IWDB gives us access to full pedigrees of most Irish Wolfhounds dating back to the breed founders. For Wolfhounds born today, that equals complete data for at least 40 generations with some lines stretching more than 60 generations back in time, mostly dependent on how young ancestors were when bred.

Documenting the full pedigree data for a modern day wolfhound is practically impossible. It would take close to a year to calculate on a standard computer and would exhaust storage space on all but the most powerful ones. 50 full generations equal information on 2,251,799,813,685,250 hounds.

When mapping the full pedigree, we are able to see how many times any ancestor shows up in the pedigree, at which distance, and we are able to calculate the probability that any gene expressed is  from that ancestor. In the following, we will call that probability influence. On IWDB, this is called contribution of blood and may be found in the ancestors tab.

Understanding influence

Influence of each ancestor based on generation

Each individual has a unique genetic markup. We inherit that markup from our parents. For each of our genes, there’s a 50% probability that its expression comes from our father and a 50% probability that it comes from the mother. Similarly, there’s a 25% chance that its expression is coming from each of our grandparents, a 12.5 chance that it comes from the great grandparents, and so on.

When an individual appears more than once in our pedigree, the chances are increased that its genes express themselves in the antedescendants. For an individual 10 generations away, there’s less than 0.1% chance that his or her genes are expressed in the antedescendant. but if the ancestor is present 100 times 10 generations back, the chances increase to 10%.

Sulhamstead Max

Sulhamstead Max is an important ancestor to all modern Irish Wolfhounds

Due to the practical limitations in calculating the complete pedigree of a modern day wolfhound, we chose to look at one of the popular sires in the breed. Sulhamstead Max was bred in 1959 by the famous Florence Nagle in England. Like a lot of UK hounds at his time, he was linebred to Sanctuary Rory of Kihone, a gift from the United States of America to save the breed in the United Kingdom where there were very few hounds left after World War II.

Sulhamstead Max sired 19 litters over four years, with 94 offspring. He was used by some of the more important kennels of the UK and Ireland at that time, among them Sulhamstead, Nendrum, Boroughbury, Eaglescrag and Sanctuary.

Some of his offspring were very popular too. Eaglescrag Clonroe of Nendrum had 138 puppies in 32 litters, while Connel of Nendrum had 111 puppies in 36 litters. The result of all this is that all hounds born in the last 30 years has Sulhamstead Max somewhere in their pedigrees. There’s no denying the influence Sulhamstead Max has had on the Irish Wolfhound.

Close to the founders

Mapping all of Sulhamstead Max’ ancestors showed more than 208 million known ancestors (208,114,851 to be precise). There are, however, only 855 unique hounds in this pedigree. That means that a lot of these hounds show up many times.

The one hound that is listed most is Cumming’s Scottish Deerhound bitch Garry. Garry is one of the deerhound founders of the resurrected Irish Wolfhound. She was probably born sometime around 1855, and it would take 5 generations and almost 20 years before she appeared in an Irish Wolfhound pedigree. By 1898 she was present in all Irish Wolfhound pedigrees as she has been in the 120 years since that time.

In Max’ pedigree she first appears 16 generations away, and she is listed more than 9 million times in his pedigree. Her influence in Sulhamstead Max is a bit over 3 percent, equal to what you see if one ancestor is present only once 5 generations ago.

The furthest we can go with Max’ pedigree is 47 generations back in time. Here we find the Borzoi Black.

The breed founders start to show up only 12 generations back from Max.

Huge influence from generations back

A complete ancestry mapping shows that even dogs that appear way back in the pedigree can be very influential in the makeup of a hound.

For Max, the most important of these very influential, but distant, ancestors is CH Sulhamstead Conncara. He was the famous blind hound of Florence Nagle, bred by J.H.B. Lockhart. Conncara was the second champion hound from Sulhamstead and was very important in Mrs. Nagle’s breeding program. Conncara starts showing up 7 generations behind Max and is present 173 times in Max’ pedigree. The probability that his genes are inherited down to Max is 17.3%, making him more influential in Max, than Max’ great grandparents.

Moving a bit further down the list, we find Garryowen, born in 1887. Garryowen is a breed founder, bred by Captain Graham. His sire was Scythian, out of the Great Dane Cedric The Saxon and Lufra. Garryowen’s dam was Graham’s Scottish Deerhound Spencer. Garryowen is present 143,479 times, spanning generations 13-27 and has a 14.28% influence.


When the Irish Wolfhound was resurrected in the late 19th century, five other breeds were used in this work. Scottish Deerhounds, Great Danes, Borzoi, a Tibetan hound and a Mastiff.

The most influential outcross in Max’ pedigree is found in Muster’s Scottish Deerhound Monzie. Monzie is listed some 1.4 million times, spanning generations 14-33, showing an influence of 14.33%. A single great grandparent would have an influence of 12.5%.

The outcross list is dominated by Deerhounds, which is only natural given their importance in resurrecting the Irish Wolfhound and the details we have of them due to Captain Graham’s detailed work on documenting Scottish Deerhound pedigrees.

Other breeds

The Great Dane Cedric The Saxon had a huge influence of Sulhamstead Max and continues to influence the breed today.

The most influential hound of another breed is the famous Great Dane Cedric The Saxon. He starts showing up 14 generations behind Max and is present almost 400,000 times in Max’ pedigree. His influence is at 9.52%, making him more influential than Max’ great great grandparents.

The next outcross breed on the list is the Tibetan hound Wolf. He starts showing up 13 generations away and is listed 52,386 times. He has an influence of 6.8%, higher than what a single great great grandparent would have.

A detailed study like this also shows that the two other breeds used in the outcross project starting more than 150 years ago are less prominent. The most important Borzoi is Black. Although she shows up 4.3 million times in Max’ pedigree, she only has an influence of 1.64%.

The last breed to be used was the Mastiff, where Garnier’s Lion is present 1.4 million times but, given the distance, only has a 0.34% influence on Max.

Some practical consequences

Although Max is just one influential dog in the pedigrees of modern Irish Wolfhounds, there are certainly lessons to be learnt by mapping his complete pedigree.

  1. Surprising influence. Distant relatives have a large influence on modern dogs. In some cases, hounds born before WWII can be more influential than the hounds that can be seen in a five generation pedigree.
  2. Things will pop up. Given the influence some individuals from other breeds have had, things that aren’t normally seen in Irish Wolfhounds will pop up now and then. Be it double dewclaws, excessive white markings or woolly coat; They are all natural consequences of the breed’s heritage.
  3. Know your pedigrees. Although we can only show you 10 generations in IWDB, it’s important for breeders to extend their research back in time from that as well. As we have seen, hounds that are further back than what can be shown in 10 generation pedigrees can often have enormous influence.
  4. Manage risk. Numbers add up quickly. By doing linebreeding or using popular sires, we increase the influence of certain ancestors. This will lead to less genetic diversity in your hounds and in the breed itself.
  5. Only estimates. When looking at pedigrees we can only estimate probability of inheritance. We will see more and more DNA-testing used to determine diversity within litters and breeds.

The most influential hounds

The following table shows the 100 most influential hounds in Sulhamstead Max’ pedigree.

1Sulhamstead Mystic150%1
2Sulhamstead Fellus150%1
3Sanctuary Rory of Kihone237.5%2-3
4Sulhamstead Melba125%2
5Sulhamstead Felcara125%2
6Sulhamstead Sedlestan Rebel125%2
7Killary of Ambleside418.75%4-5
8Taddeus of Kihone218.75%3-4
9Chalet Cam218.75%3-4
10Sulhamstead Conncara17317.2974%7-13
11Artel Felclarion317.1875%3-6
12Sulhamstead Cosmo215.625%3-5
13Garryowen (1887)143 47914.2816%13-27
14Brian II (1893)62 73213.7496%13-25
15Chulainn Casey Of Kihone1213.6719%5-8
16Monzie (Muster’s)1 415 27813.2986%14-33Scottish Deerhound
17O’Leary (1896)26 64113.2108%11-24
18Sulhamstead Dan Of Ambleside6212.5488%7-11
19Sulhamstead Cassandra412.5%4-6
20Sedlestan Rona112.5%3
21Sulhamstead Mesa112.5%3
22Cragwood Barney O’Shea of Riverlawn112.5%3
23Old Torrom (Deerhound) (Muster’s)4 353 98612.485%13-38Scottish Deerhound
24Felixstowe Kilbarry19212.2131%7-14
25Scythian (1885)217 56211.9646%13-28
26Felixstowe Gara4 33511.8788%11-20
27Rippingdon Dan Of Southwick1611.5234%5-9
28Spencer (Graham’s)195 87411.5062%13-28Scottish Deerhound
29Felixstowe Gweebarra Later Dromore Gweebarra3 85511.4706%10-20
30Gay Lady Of Ennisfarne1511.1328%5-9
31Dermot Astore (1896)23 31811.0773%12-24
32Padraic of Summerhill510.9375%5-6
33Nookoo (1892)41 49210.8544%13-25
34Felixstowe Kilgerran54310.8498%9-17
35Sheelah #26 (Graham’s)253 74110.7514%14-29
36Sulhamstead Pedlar27110.733%8-15
37Lindley Hector2 04910.5856%10-19
38Ambleside Finn of Erinn1710.5469%6-8
39Lufra Rhu (1904) AKA Lansdowne Lufra Rhu7 57710.3833%11-21
40Leinster (1902)7 2269.9535%11-21
41Hindhead Mollie8289.8907%10-16
42Felixstowe Kilrush1 9749.7815%10-19
43Cheevra #170 (1892)32 3179.7726%12-24
44Cedric The Saxon379 4059.5191%14-31Great Dane
45Teanhra of Ambleside49.375%5-6
46Laith of Kihone29.375%4-5
47Cragwood Brenda II29.375%4-5
48Artel Clontarf29.375%4-5
49Sulhamstead Mary29.375%4-5
50Bran II (Angelo’s)38 7918.9756%12-25
51Sulhamstead Fianna778.96%7-12
52Felixstowe Kilronan2 0238.8698%9-20
53Brenda of Kidnal10 0238.8485%12-22
55Clonboy Of Ouborough58.5938%5-7
56Sulhamstead Fella38.5938%4-7
57Chulainn Curlew38.5938%4-7
58Lufra #39a (c1883)312 3388.4741%14-31
59Zarah (1889)67 0678.3597%14-26
60Brannish of Ambleside278.2031%7-9
61Tara #83 (Lindsay’s)78 9797.8767%13-27
62Swaran II (1879)420 4837.8291%14-31
63Fillongley Queen3 3717.8177%11-20
64Cragwood Bard47.8125%5-6
65Brown Bruce27.8125%4-6
66Dhulart (Graham’s)121 3657.6278%13-28
67Iduna Of Hindhead637.5684%7-12
68Fionn-Ma-Coul of Brabyns607.5195%7-12
69Felixstowe Sheelagh6 9957.4933%12-22
71Nualla (1897)10 8447.3332%12-22
72Felixstowe Kilcully Halcyon formerly Brogan of Brabyns207.3242%6-10
73Gareth (1903)3 9837.3058%11-20
74Wargrave (1897)19 2977.2945%12-24
75Silver King2 7887.199%11-20
76Felixstowe Kilmorac Halcyon367.1777%7-11
77Toyon St Patrick2917.019%9-14
78Lady Kathleen21 3697.0124%13-24
79Wynall Gwynne1 4296.9149%11-18
80Fingal Or Gara62 7326.8748%14-26
81Wolf #19352 3866.8124%13-26Tibetan
82Wyke Mark Dan O’Hagarty1806.7505%8-15
83Brenda (Muster’s)1 482 8046.7468%15-34Scottish Deerhound
84Oscar #18 (of Kilfane) (1875)756 0166.6989%15-34
85Taffy of Ambleside106.6406%6-8
86Princess Oona (1892)26 6416.6054%12-25
87Sheelin of Caldy5526.604%10-16
88Dreumah (II) (1877)674 2246.6024%15-32
89Lady Moll7326.4575%9-17
90Fonab Of Ouborough76.4453%5-9
91Lindley Brenda6146.3347%10-17
92Gruamach (Deerhound) (Campbell’s)4 414 7936.3038%14-39Scottish Deerhound
93Shellock (Cameron’s)4 414 7936.3038%14-39Scottish Deerhound
94Scota Of Brabyns46.25%5-7
95Barn Hill Gilda16.25%4
96Sulhamstead Majenta16.25%4
97Cragwood Gaelic Harp16.25%4
98Banshee Of Boroughbury16.25%4
99Cragwood Molly996.1768%9-12
100Felixstowe Slane1926.1066%8-15

Research and article by Per Arne Flatberg