So, you’re “just” an owner or prospective puppy-buyer of an Irish wolfhound, and don’t intend to breed. What have pedigrees and iwdb.org got to offer you?

Getting a puppy can be really hard. There’s only so much a pedigree can help you with. Your first stop when looking for a puppy should be your national or regional Irish Wolfhound Club. They will normally have sound advice to give puppy-buyers, like the article The Irish Wolfhound Club has on avoiding puppy farmers. This is not a how-to on what to look for when getting a puppy, but rather an introduction to how you may use pedigree databases, and especially iwdb.org to find the right puppy.

Many of the points in our article on what matters in a pedigree also apply to non-breeders. Breeders, breed bodies and puppy-buyers should have the same interest: To have healthy, long lived dogs with excellent temperament and conformation. Mostly that’s the case. Most breeders are doing what they do for the love of the breed.

iwdb.org gives you information on some things to look out for when you are considering a puppy. We highly encourage you to use Trial Mating to check the mating that you are considering a puppy from. If your breeder hasn’t got information on the parents which are used to produce a puppy, our advice would be to look for another breeder.

  • Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI). You find this value under Ancestors in a pedigree lising. The UK Kennel Club recommends this value to be at or below the breed average. You will see a handy meter showing you just how your dog fares compared to the current average in the Ancestors pane at iwdb.org. Here’s a quick list of what COI-levels you may expect with some quite common matings of related individuals:
    • Father/daughter, mother/son or brother/sister → 25%
    • Grandfather/granddaughter or grandmother/grandson → 12.5%
    • Half-brother/half-sister, Double cousins → 12.5%
    • Uncle/niece or aunt/nephew → 12.5%
    • Great-grandfather/great-granddaughter or great-grandmother/great-grandson → 6.25%
    • Half-uncle/niece or half-aunt/nephew → 6.25%
    • First cousins → 6.25%

    There may be perfectly good reasons for breeding with a higher degree of inbreeding than the breed average. However, FCI (Federation Cynologique International) states that “Mating between siblings, mother to son or father to daughter should never be performed”. A good breeder will explain why they’ve elected to do what they did when asked about inbreeding levels.

  • Breeding practices. If you’re anywhere except the US or Canada, do a search for the kennel name or click the name of the breeder. It will show all dogs bred by the kennel you are considering puppies from. Breeders breed, and that’s normal practice. You want to find a breeder that breeds quite regularly and does not exploit their dogs. In the US and Canada, it’s much harder, since dogs are very often co-bred with various other breeders and kennel names are not necessarily given. In these cases, look up the bitches owned by the breeder in question. How many litters have they had? Are there a number of bitches used in the breeding-program? Ideally you’d want the breeder to breed on more than one bitch, but maybe not all the bitches at their disposal.
    Look for the number of litters the dam of your litter has had and the time interval between litters as well. You are looking for good welfare-practices when it comes to this. Several kennel clubs will refuse registrations if a bitch has more than 5 litters (in many countries 3 is considered the maximum) and the bitch should be allowed time to recover between whelpings.
    Have a look at the sire used as well. You will normally want variation in stud dogs. If a breeder has used the same dog on most or all of their bitches, you might want to inquire about the reasons for this practice. The FCI  warns against the practice called matador breeding, where a stud dog sires more than 5% of the population over a five year period.
  • Look for longevity information in the pedigree. For many irish wolfhounds, we have this information recorded in iwdb.org. Many dogs with a lifespan above breed average (currently 7.4 years) in the pedigree, will likely increase your dogs potential to be long lived as well.
  • Look for common diseases in the pedigree. In general you will want to have a breeder that’s open and transparent about what their dogs died from and how their longevity is. So more information in the pedigree will normally mean the breeder has been able to make an informed choice and works with other breeders that are also transparent. This is a very good thing, and we are incredibly grateful to those breeders that choose to share this kind of information.
    All dogs will die of something, but if a number of dogs in the pedigree have died young from the same disease, it’s quite likely the disease is genetic and your dog will be in danger of aquiring the same disease.
    Some diseases are very common in the breed, so remember there’s a big difference if a dog dies of things like heart failure or osteosarcoma at the age of two compared with the age of 8-10 years.
  • Look at pictures if available. A picture might tell you quite a lot about a dog. Ask the breeder to see pictures or movies of parents and grandparents if they aren’t available in iwdb.
  • Look for dogs you have met yourself in the pedigree, reverse pedigree and vertical pedigree. Did you like them?  If you did, that’s a good thing, and it’s more likely that you’ll like the puppies.
  • If parents are unavailable in iwdb.org, they are either from a country where we have little or no data, or there may be cause for concern. You should always check that both parents are purebred Irish Wolfhounds, registered in a recognised registry, if you want an Irish Wolfhound. If they’re not in iwdb.org, ask to see their official pedigrees.

Remember that most breeders will have the best interest of the breed and their dogs at heart. They will be just as concerned as you are that your dog will have a happy, long life.

Blog-post written by Per Arne Flatberg. All views express are those of the author.

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