Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Irish Dogs: Blue, Red, but No Green Country Deserves Credit for Breeds from Wolfhound to Setter

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Irish Dogs: Blue, Red, but No Green Country Deserves Credit for Breeds from Wolfhound to Setter

Article excerpt

IRELAND IS famed for its strains of horses and cattle, and it deserves equal credit for creating canine breeds renowned for their beauty and working skills.

The Irish have been breeding dogs for quite a while, so long that there are laws dating from the fifth century dealing with the ownership, breeding and welfare of dogs.

The outstanding attributes of the Irish wolfhound, which has been selectively produced for almost 2,000 years, were appreciated in ancient Rome and by European nobles. Like its prey, the Irish elk, wolf and boar, the breed had become virtually extinct by 1860, when a few were located and bred remarkably true to type.

The Irish wolfhound is a huge, rough-coated, shaggy-browed hound that can be up to 36 inches at the shoulder. It is quiet, sweet-tempered, intelligent and craves human companionship, but it is short-lived (eight or nine years average). The American Kennel Club registered 1,223 Irish wolfhounds in 1992.

The Irish setter, one of the world's most beautiful canines, can be a breathtaking sight streaming across a field, its flowing red coat gleaming in the sun. It probably was created from the English setter and Irish water spaniels. Though show specimens now must have a mahogany coat with a few tiny white markings, early examples undoubtedly were red and white.

Owners describe the Irish setter as devil-may-care, rollicking, bold, yet gentle, friendly, loyal and sweet-tempered. The dogs are about 27 inches at the shoulder, very active indoors and out, standoffish with strangers but fond of family members. The AKC registered 2,718 in 1992.

The Irish water spaniel, the clown of the spaniel family, was common in Eire well before 1100 and may have been created centuries earlier by crossing local specimens with Portuguese water dogs brought in by Celts migrating from the Iberian Peninsula. …

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