Pedigrees & Breeding
Why are complete and ACCURATE pedigrees so important? Because a pedigree is more than just a bunch of names - to a good breeder (and owner) it provides an astonishing amount of information about the phenotype (physical features) and genotype (breed characteristics, temperament and health) that may become evident during the life of your dog or may surface in future generations.
Pedigrees with accurate and complete known ancestry are an important tool used by conscientious breeders to improve stock and breed away from health issues. Unknown or incorrect ancestry increases the risk that Irish wolfhound breeders now and in the future will make the wrong decisions. The latest information about the mode of inheritance for health issues is useless if you have 'blanks' in a pedigree or inaccurate information about WHO is behind your breeding stock. Responsible Irish wolfhound breeders want and need to know this information because they try to plan any matings to make sure future generations are as magnificent, strong and healthy as possible. (Note, pedigree 'blanks' have since been replaced with the name of a dog, Ornumflow Lord Erikson, so breed researchers should adjust research accordingly.)
Pedigrees have always been important in the history of the Irish Wolfhound. During the mid 1800s, Capt. George Augustus Graham began his efforts to revive interest in the breed, searching out remnants of 'the true blood' and using this foundation in combination with a closely allied breed, the Scottish Deerhound.
A small number of crosses - chiefly the Great Dane and Russian Wolfhound along with a 'Great Dog of Thibet' -were introduced by others in an attempt to gain size more rapidly with the last outside influence in the early 1900s. It then became necessary to breed to eliminate traits found in these breeds not desirable in Irish Wolfhounds.
Graham had a firm goal in mind and, joined by others with a similar passion for the breed, the first Irish Wolfhound Club was formed in the UK and a Breed Standard created as a blueprint for breeders of that day as well as today.
Graham felt very strongly that knowing a dog's ancestry was the key to breeding dogs that would be true to type and fit for purpose. To support that goal and to assist other breeders he recorded every pedigree he was able to discover during the period 1859 to 1906. Over 600 pedigrees along with details about phenotype, health and temperament were recorded in his notebooks.
Protecting the Breed
When you first meet any dog with show ribbons, it may seem inconsequential if there is one missing grandparent in a 3 generation pedigree. However, that one 'blank' actually means there are 63 'unknowns' behind that dog in the seven generation pedigree. That is a LOT of missing information about phenotype (physical traits), health and temperament that will affect future generations. If breeders ignore those 'blanks' and the unknown lineage becomes dispersed throughout the breed population, by the time a health problem appears it can be catastrophic.
While there can never be guarantees in breeding living animals, why take more risks than necessary?
As a future owner of this breed you can help ensure the future remains bright for the breed by choosing an Irish wolfhound puppy with complete known ancestry. Do not accept unknown or inaccurate ancestors in the pedigree.