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Irish Wolfhound
#1
Irish Wolfhound

[Image: IrishWolfhound1.jpg]

Country of origin: Ireland 

The Irish wolfhound (Irish: Cú Faoil, Irish pronunciation: [ˈkuː ˈfˠiːlʲ]) is a breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), specifically a sighthound. The name originates from its purpose (wolf hunting) rather than from its appearance. Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest dog breed on average.

Appearance

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The standard of The American Kennel Club describes the breed as "Of great size and commanding appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with keen sight. The largest and tallest of the galloping hounds, in general type he is a rough-coated, Greyhound-like breed; very muscular, strong though gracefully built; movements easy and active; head and neck carried high, the tail carried with an upward sweep with a slight curve towards the extremity." The colours allowed by The Kennel Club are "grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, wheaten and steel grey" The American Kennel Club allows "any other color that appears in the Deerhound". The size as specified by the KC is "Minimum height for dogs: 79 cms (31 ins), bitches: 71 cms (28 ins). Minimum weight: 54.5 kgs (120 lbs) for dogs, 40.9 kgs (90 lbs) for bitches. Great size, including height of shoulder and proportionate length of body is to be aimed at, and it is desired to firmly establish a breed that shall average from 81-86 cms (32-34 ins) in dogs."

Temperament

An easygoing animal, they are usually quiet by nature. Wolfhounds often create a strong bond with their family and can become quite destructive or morose if left for long periods. Despite the need for their own people, wolfhounds generally are somewhat stand-offish with total strangers. They should not be territorially aggressive to other domestic dogs but are born with specialized skills and it is common for hounds at play to course another dog. This is a specific hunting behaviour, not a fighting or territorial domination behaviour. Most wolfhounds are very gentle with children and are aware of their size and power. The Irish wolfhound is relatively easy to train. They respond well to firm, but gentle, consistent leadership. However, historically these dogs were required to work at great distances from their masters and think independently when hunting rather than waiting for detailed commands and this can still be seen in the breed.

The wolfhound of today is far from the one that struck fear into the hearts of the Ancient Romans. Irish wolfhounds are often favoured for their loyalty, affection, patience and devotion. Although at some points in history they have been used as watchdogs, unlike some breeds, the Irish wolfhound is usually unreliable in this role as they are often friendly toward strangers, although their size can be a natural deterrent. That said, when protection is required this dog is never found wanting. When they or their family are in any perceived danger they display a fearless nature. Owenmore wolfhound breeder Linda Glover believes the dogs' close affinity with humans makes them acutely aware and sensitive to ill will or malicious intentions leading to them excelling as a guardian rather than guard dog. J A McAleen, in praising them, wrote:

No other dog can come so close to the understanding and kindly companionship That exists between humans as this dog can. A giant in structure, a lamb in disposition, a lion in courage; affectionate and intelligent, thoroughly reliable and dependable at all times, as a companion and as a guard he is perfection.

Health

Irish wolfhounds have a relatively short lifespan. Published lifespan estimations vary between 5 and 10 years. Dilated cardiomyopathy and bone cancer are the leading cause of death and like all deep-chested dogs, gastric torsion (bloat) is also common; the breed is also affected by hereditary intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.

In a privately funded study conducted under the auspices of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and based on an owner survey, Irish wolfhounds in the United States from 1966 to 1986 lived to a mean age of 6.47 and died most frequently of bone cancer. A more recent study by the UK Kennel Club puts the average age of death at 7 years.

By the age of 8 months, Irish wolfhounds appear adult, and many owners start stressing them too much. Outstretched limbs and irreparable damage are the result. Wolfhounds need at least 18 months to be ready for lure coursing, running as a sport, and other strenuous activities. It takes almost two years for the wolfhound to fully grow.

Wolfhounds should not receive additional supplements when a good dog food is used. It is generally accepted that they should be fed a large breed puppy food until 18 months old and then change to a large breed adult food. Most breeders today recommend that they not be supplemented to slow their rapid growth.

Irish wolfhounds are one of the tallest of dog breeds so they are well suited to rural life, but their medium energy profile allows them to adjust fairly well to suburban and urban life as well, provided they receive appropriate exercise.

History

The breed is very old; there are suggestions it may have been brought to Ireland around 3500 BC by early settlers, further genetic testing may help clarify a point of origin. These dogs are mentioned, as cú (variously translated as hound, Irish hound, war dog, wolf dog, etc.) in Irish laws, which predate Christianity, and in Irish literature which dates from the 5th century or, in the case of the Sagas, from the old Irish period - AD600-900. The word "Cu" often became an added respected prefix on the names of warriors as well as kings denoting that they were worthy of the respect and loyalty of a Cu.

Ancient wood cuts and writings have placed them in existence as a breed by 273 BC. However there is indication that they existed even as early as 600 BC when the Tectosages and Tolistobogii Celts sacked Delphi. Survivors left accounts of the fierce Celts and the huge dogs who fought with them and at their side. They were mentioned by Julius Caesar in his treatise, The Gallic Wars, and by 391 BC, they were written about by Roman Consul, Quintus Aurelius, who received seven of them as a gift to be used for fighting lions, bears, that in his words, "all Rome viewed with wonder."

Bred as war dogs by the ancients, who called them Cú Faoil. The Irish continued to breed them for this purpose, as well as to guard their homes and protect their stock. Regular references of Irish wolfhounds being used in dog fights are found in many historical sagas—Culain's favourite dog, Luath, was slain by a southern chief's hound, Phorp. Cúchulain, a name which translates literally as "hound of Culain", gained his name when as a child, known then as Setanta, he slew the ferocious guard dog of Culain forcing him to offer himself as a replacement.

While many modern texts state Irish wolfhounds were used for coursing deer, contemporary pre-revival accounts such as Animated Nature (1796) by Oliver Goldsmith are explicit that the original animal was a very poor coursing dog. Their astonishing size, speed, and intelligence made them ideal animals for both boar hunting and wolf hunting. They were perhaps too ideal, as the boar and wolf are now extinct in Ireland.

Unlike the Russian wolfhound (Borzoi), who were bred to keep a wolf at bay until the hunter arrived, the Irish wolfhounds were bred not only to hunt the wolf down, but to go in for the kill. They killed wolves in the same way a cat kills a rat, by shaking it until its neck snapped. The Irish wolfhound has been recorded as being exhibited in ancient Rome to some excitement, and mention is made that they so amazed and terrified the Romans that it was seen fit to only transport them in cages. During the English conquest of Ireland, wolfhounds were trained by the Irish for war; their job was to catch armoured knights on horseback and separate them from their horses.

Only kings and the nobility were allowed to own the great Irish hound, the numbers permitted depending on position. They were much coveted and were frequently given as gifts to important personages and foreign nobles. Like the nobility they served, the hounds were often bejeweled with chains and collars studded with precious gem stones and metals. Wolfhounds were the companions of the regal, and housed themselves alongside them. King John of England, in about 1210 presented an Irish hound, Gelert to Llewellyn, a prince of Wales. The poet The Hon William Robert Spencer immortalised this hound in a poem.

In his Historie of Ireland completed 1571, Blessed Edmund Campion gives a description of the hounds used for hunting the wolves on the Dublin and Wicklow mountains. He says: They (the Irish) are not without wolves and greyhounds to hunt them, bigger of bone and limb than a colt. Due to their popularity overseas many were exported to European royal houses leaving numbers in Ireland depleted. This led to a declaration by Oliver Cromwell himself being published in Kilkenny on 27 April 1652 to ensure that sufficient numbers remained to control the wolf population.

References to the Irish wolfdog in the 18th century tell of its great size, strength and greyhound shape as well as its scarcity. Writing in 1790, Bewick described it as the largest and most beautiful of the dog kind; about 36 inches high, generally of a white or cinammon colour, somewhat like the greyhound but more robust. He said that their aspect was mild, disposition peaceful, and strength so great that in combat the mastiff or bulldog was far from being an equal to them. The last wolf in Ireland is thought to have been killed at Myshall, Co Carlow in 1786 by a pack of wolfdogs kept by a Mr Watson of Ballydarton. The remaining hounds in the hands of a few families who were mainly descendants of the old Irish chieftains, were now symbols of status rather than hunters, they were said to be the last of their race.

Englishman Captain George Augustus Graham is responsible with a few other breeders for reaffirming the dogs' existence. In 1879 he wrote: "It has been ascertained beyond all question that there are few specimens of the breed still left in Ireland and England to be considered Irish wolfhounds, though falling short of the requisite dimensions. This blood is now in my possession." Captain Graham devoted his life to ensuring the survival of the Irish wolfdog. Owing to the small numbers of surviving specimens outcrossing was used in the breeding programme. It is believed that Great Dane, Deerhound and Mastiff dogs all played their part in Graham's creation of the dog we currently know. In 1885 Captain Graham with other breeders founded the Irish Wolfhound Club, and the Breed Standard of Points to establish and agree the ideal to which breeders should aspire.

The wolfhound is sometimes regarded as the national dog breed of Ireland but in fact no breed has ever been officially adopted as such. The wolfhound was historically a dog that only nobles could own and was taken up by the British during their rule in Ireland. This made it unpopular as a national symbol and the Kerry Blue Terrier was adopted by Irish Nationalists such as Michael Collins. However, in recent years, the wolfhound has been adopted as a symbol by both rugby codes, which are organised on an All-Ireland basis. The national rugby league team are nicknamed the wolfhounds, and the Irish Rugby Football Union, which governs rugby union, changed the name of the country's A (second-level) national team in that code to the Ireland Wolfhounds in 2010.

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#2
Double Dogs: Identical Twin Puppies Confirmed

By Ashley P. Taylor, Live Science Contributor | September 2, 2016 03:42pm ET

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These are the first known identical puppy twins http://goo.gl/atkVoV

Two puppies born in October are in fact identical twins, a team of veterinarians reports. This is the first time that a genetically confirmed set of identical twin dogs has been reported in the scientific literature.

"What happened in this case … would have been the same thing that happens in a woman when she has identical twins," Carolynne Joonè, a veterinarian and lecturer at James Cook University in Australia, and co-author of the report of the finding, told Live Science.That is, early during the mother dog's pregnancy, a fertilized egg split in two, creating two genetically identical embryos, Joonè said.

The Irish wolfhound puppies were first suspected to be twins when, during their birth last October in South Africa, veterinarian Kurt De Cramer observed that the two puppies had shared a single placenta. The puppies' mother had been straining to give birth for several hours and was taken to De Cramer, who performed a Cesarean section, Joonè said.

De Cramer began cutting at the site of an unusual bulge in the uterus. From that incision, he removed one puppy, and then saw that there was another fetus within the same placenta. Very excited, De Cramer "put [the newborn puppies] on the table next to him, within the [operating] theater, and quickly got assistants to take photographs of these pups still connected to a single placenta," before cleaning them up as usual, Joonè said.

The veterinarian also delivered the mother's other five puppies, each with its own placenta, the authors wrote in their paper. 

De Cramer thought it possible that the placenta-sharing pups were monozygotic twins, Joonè said. To test this hypothesis, when the puppies were 2 weeks old, De Cramer, Joonè and another colleague, Johan Nöthling, a veterinarian and professor at the University of Pretoria, drew blood samples and sent them for genetic testing.

"I wasn't sure that they were going to be monozygotic at that time," Joonè said.

"They did look very alike, but they weren't completely identical." There were slight differences in the puppies' white markings. But the DNA showed that the puppies had identical genes on 40 different markers that are commonly used in such testing.

A second DNA analysis, done with samples taken from cheek swabs, confirmed that the dogs were identical. The differences in white marking patterns are likely due to differences in gene expression between the two puppies, Joonè said.

A rarity?

Because this is the first documented case, researchers think that monozygotic twins in canines are rare, Joonè said. However, it's also possible that such twins are born more frequently than thought, but go undetected, she added. 

It's certainly not rare to see what, in an analogy to humans, could be called fraternal twinning in dogs, though.

"With dogs, they always have multiples. They always have twins, triplets, quadruplets and so on, but they're all different eggs that have been fertilized [by different sperm]," Joonè explained. Human fraternal twins come from two separate eggs fertilized by two separate sperm.

As for what exactly causes a single fertilized egg, or embryo, to split into two embryos, whether in humans or in dogs, that remains mysterious, Joonè said. Twinning is "something that has been fascinating us for years," she said.

The research appeared Aug. 22 in the journal Reproduction in Domestic Animals.

http://www.livescience.com/55978-identical-twin-irish-wolfhound-puppies-confirmed.html




Journal Reference:
Joonè, C., De Cramer, K. and Nöthling, J. (2016), The first case of genetically confirmed monozygotic twinning in the dog. Reprod Dom Anim. doi:10.1111/rda.12746

Abstract
Monozygotic twinning has not previously been genetically confirmed in the dog. This case report describes the finding of two viable male monozygotic foetuses within one placental site during caesarean section. Their umbilical cords attached to a single placenta. Genetic profiling using a total of 38 microsatellite markers, as well as amelogenin and SRY for sex determination, revealed identical DNA profiles, whether derived from blood or tissue (buccal swabs) samples. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of monozygotic twinning in the dog confirmed using DNA profiling.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.11...12746/full

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