N E W   O W N E R ‘ S   G U I D E


You are now owned by a SUNSTAG (Reg.) Irish Wolfhound puppy. You’ve gone through the interviews. You’ve been inspected by, through and around except under a microscope. You’ve answered questions (some so personal you could scream). You’ve said “yes” so many times that you’re finding it hard to say “no” to anything. You’ve agreed that in the event of a personal catastrophe that involves the welfare of your SUNSTAG (Reg.) Irish Wolfhound, that the SUNSTAG (Reg.) Breeder will be called first and the hound returned to us. So, “On with it”, you say--OK, here goes.
                    AKC Name: __________________________________________________________________________________
                    Call Name: ______________________________________      Whelped: __________________________________ 
                    Sire____________________________________________     Dam: _____________________________________
Your puppy is            weeks old. (Not less than 12 weeks except under special circumstances, i.e., to another breeder, to be shipped, or to an experienced Irish Wolfhound owner.).

I have to include some personal comments about your relationship with us. I have nearly 40 years of experience and am a huge resource for you in raising your new puppy. Please ask lots of questions--there are NO stupid questions where the welfare of the puppy is concerned. Please keep in touch. I don't care if you call at 3:a.m. just to tell me your puppy blew bubbles in his water dish--I want to share in these little things with you, just as I will be there to share in the big things--good and not so good. When in doubt about anything, ALWAYS! CALL SUNSTAG FIRST!!! Now, you need to prepare. . .


2 large ceramic or stainless steel bowls with flat bottoms, 5-quart size preferred
 3 small spray bottles (1 for Listerine; 1 for drinking water; 1 for Avon Skin-So-Soft optional)
Sleeping pad/pillow or old quilt
 Airline flight kennel, wire crate or 36"/48" X-Pen (optional)
 Web collar (2 inches larger than neck size or expandable style)
 3 chain link collars, 2", 4" and 6" larger than puppy’s current neck size
 Head Halti device (optional)
 6- to 8-foot 3/4-inch leather lead
 1 “traffic” lead
 Toys -- hard rubber variety, tied rope knot, gumabone
 2-40 pound bags of quality dog food (We prefer Kirkland or Purina.)
 2 quarts of Cottage Cheese and/or Plain Yogurt
 Vitamin C (the Ester-C variety)

See your Vet within 72 hours
of returning home for a well-puppy check-up and evaluation. Your vet needs to know what your healthy puppy looks like to better recognize an unhealthy aspect in this stoic breed. Set an appointment for baseline vet will understand. At age 6-8 months, you need to have a full blood panel run as a baseline, and again at the 1st annual check-up. Please include Free T3/T4 values.

AKC Registration and Name
. Your Sunstag (Reg.) puppy probably has already been named and registered with the AKC. The papers will be released in accordance with your contractual agreement. You may call your puppy anything you like, but please refer to him/her by the registered name when communicating with us.

We never have collars or choke chains on our hounds unless we are going out of the gated and locked yard. I keep all license tags on a key chain readily accessible for our departures (generally kept on the coat hook by the front door). We use a medium weight choke chain for everyday use and a jeweler’s choke chain (serpentine braid) for shows. The dog will learn the difference in the sounds of the collars. Day walks are on six- to eight-foot 3/4-inch leather leads or 20-foot retractable lead. Show work is done with a braided nylon or fine leather lead, approximately 18" in length. Pet shops also sell what is called a “traffic” lead--simply a short leather handle with a collar clip. If you fear losing your dog because s/he does not have on a collar, we suggest you tattoo your dog’s AKC number on the inner left thigh or have a microchip inserted (our preference). Your vet can usually do either of these, but ask him to keep a tattoo small yet noticeable. We stack the letters and numbers, thusly:    

Lost and Found.
    True, AKC will not give out owner name and telephone number if your hound is found, but they will forward postal inquiries back to you...and, they might even call you collect. The microchip (Home Again is aligned with AKC) comes with a tracing service and is the most reliable we have found to date. We strongly recommend having the chip implant done.

Flea Collars. NO! NO flea dips except those specifically approved for a sighthound. NO “Shell No-Pest” strips in the house or yard. Any produce that says, “Not for use on Greyhounds”, DO NOT USE ON YOUR IRISH WOLFHOUND. Flea powder is okay, as is Sevin 5% dust from your gardening outlet. We use DFT-Plus which can be used daily, does no harm to furniture or clothing and smells rather good once the alcohol smell evaporates.

Vet Visits. We suggest you flea spray and brush your dog the night before a visit to your vet. Wipe the dog’s coat with Listerine from a spray bottle. This clears away any last minute surface dust and odor. Use a “traffic” lead for close control.

Your Vet will put your Irish Wolfhound on the schedule most suited to your hound’s needs. Our Show hounds are given extra protection through more frequent boosters and an annual titer (a test which shows the dog’s immunity levels). Follow your Vet’s advice or consult SUNSTAG (Reg.), however, DO NOT give the Rabies at the same visit for booster shots.

Be A Good Pet Owner.
Remember not all people love dogs...especially very big dogs. Keep your puppy close by your side and do not allow him/her to wander to the end of the leash when other dogs and humans are present. Puppy could be hurt by an obstreperous passing canine.

Medical Documents.
You will receive a record of your puppy’s vet visits, shots record, and pertinent health data. The Irish Wolfhounds are exceptional dogs; they need unusual experience and knowledge from your Vet. We suggest you canvass the veterinarians in your area: Are they familiar with Irish Wolfhounds? Do they have any Irish Wolfhound patients in their current files? With what other large breeds or sighthounds are they very familiar-- Borzoi, Saluki, Greyhound? Sighthounds are a whole new ball game. Be careful in selecting your Wolfhound Vet.

Emergencies. Get the telephone number, address and a map to get to your Emergency Clinic. If more than one is within a reasonable distance from home, get all of them. Make a dry run to see how long it takes to get there. Be familiar with alternate routes to all emergency clinics. Check occasionally to be sure they have not moved! In an extreme case, dial 9-1-1, for help.

Anesthetics/Tranquilizers. NO tranquilizers before anesthesia. Sighthounds have different respiration and metabolism and your Vet should be cautioned (though s/he is more than likely well aware of this) to take extra care in administering these to your hound. Irish Wolfhounds are generally very stoic and can be “repaired” without drugging. Valium can be used only if the Vet is familiar enough with YOUR hound. NO ASPIRIN either, unless buffered. We recommend Isoflorine anesthesia. Your Vet may call our Vet for protocols

Hip Dysplasia/PRA/Thyroid/Cholesterol/Von Wildebrands. It is suggested that you have your SUNSTAG (Reg.) Irish Wolfhound’s hips x-rayed at 24 months for hip dysplasia. Two reasons: (1) SUNSTAG (Reg.) has a replacement policy for defects of this nature; and (2) your hound will need your help to keep fit and relatively pain-free if HD is diagnosed. Caught early, HD can be kept at bay for quite awhile. Also, have his/her eyes checked for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); get Thyroid, vonWilldebrands and Cholesterol (T3-T4/Free T3-T4) tests. These have never been a problem, but we feel you should be aware of these procedures for the care of your hound.

Hot Spots. Stress, fleas, allergies can cause a dog to chew his/her rump or tail to a bloody pulp. We do several things: (1) start Stop-Itch (brand); (2) coat the raw area with Vaseline, Vitamin E cream, Aloe Vera ointment or other soothing salve; (3) use Bitter Apple (brand) to discourage chewing; (4) give 1000 units of Vitamin Ester-C to combat possible stress--limited to about 3 days use.

Bloat/Torsion. A gaseous swelling of the abdomen/twisted or telescoped intestines. Symptoms include vomiting, arched back, obvious swollen belly, severe pain. Get to a vet immediately! If your vet will give you his/her home telephone number for emergencies, get it, but PLEASE use it ONLY in emergencies. Or, after hours at the Emergency Clinic, insist that they notify your Vet that you have your Irish Wolfhound in the Clinic. They will call him/her if you insist--DO IT! Make a scene if you have to. Your hound’s life may depend on having your Vet in attendance. If the emergency vet (or any Vet) says “Parvo” and you are certain all shots are up to date, suggest checking for torsion. This is important!

We recommend you check the ingredient percentages on the product you currently use, if you have a preference. Our hounds are fed Kirkland Chicken & Rice or Purina Hi-Pro their entire lives; each of these has an ingredient percentage of 26% Protein and 15% Fat, plus the other daily recommended doses of other minerals and fiber. We leave a good supply of dry kibble available throughout the day. Occasionally, you may have a hound with food sensitivities--try a Lamb and Rice produce but attempt to keep the Protein/Fat ratios close to those noted above. Some hounds react unfavorably to high protein levels and develop “growing pains”. Simply cut back on the protein in the food for about 2 weeks.

NO MILK (except goat’s milk, fresh or powdered). NO raw eggs.
NO vitamin supplements (if you continue to feed a well-respected brand). There are exceptions to this comment, of course. You will see the front toes on your puppy begin to spread. At that point you may supplement with a product available from some pet stores called Pet-Calc,--Calcium=600mg; Phosphorous= 464mg; Vitamin D=400 units...these proportions only. Another, is Vitamin Ester-C in 500 unit minimum, 2 times a day. Usually this is continued for three days only, then every other day for the balance of one week. The toes will slowly close. This is a growth cycle. Don’t fret!

NO raw meat or meat products. NO TABLE SCRAPS. Believe me, an Irish Wolfhound with “wind” is really something else! You don’t want to experience this, therefore, stay away from meat, meat products and table scraps. NO TREATS from the table. There are biscuits and cookies especially formulated for our hounds -- use them, please You may ask why we do not advise raw foods for the Irish Wolfhound; it produces gases that are at the very least unpleasant when expelled, can be a contributing factor to broat (more later on that issue); and, in some cases, creates a food aggressive attitude in the hound.

NO concrete or hard tile surfaces
for your SUNSTAG (Reg.) Irish Wolfhound. When they are older they won’t “plop” down, but puppies do and can develop elbow or hip bursas/hygromas. These swellings are fluid under the skin. Some go away by themselves. Your Vet will guide you in their treatment. Cutting into them and inserting drains should be a LAST RESORT. NO cortisone! We recommend giving Vitamin Ester-C and Ferrous Sulfate in a prescribed protocol (2000 units Vitamin Ester-C and 6 tablets FS/Iron twice daily for three days, then half the dosage for additional 5 to 7 days) before having the vet drain and wrap the area. You could also massage them GENTLY with BenGay or Iodex product several times a day. ALWAYS! CALL SUNSTAG FIRST!!!

Exercise. Well, we say, “It takes two Wolfhounds”, to get proper exercise even in a small backyard. The Irish Wolfhound wants to be with you only slightly more than s/he wants to be with another Irish Wolfhound. [Ah, the beginnings of the “Potato Chip Syndrome”.] Go jogging or bike riding, but stay off pavement with your puppy. Not only is the surface hard, it is usually hot. A mile a day will be good for both of you once your puppy is 8 to 10 months old. DO NOT RELEASE your Irish Wolfhound in an unfenced area unless you have a 110% surety that you can recall the dog INSTANTLY! This is for his/her protection.

Stairs. Many breeders feel that puppies should not be allowed on stairs and we agree to a point. SUNSTAG (Reg.) supervises our puppies at 5 weeks on half-stairs and as they become more proficient, to full stairs with open backs. When they are older, we monitor their play if stairs are involved, but they need to know how to get up and down SAFELY.

No strenuous exercise either before or after meals. This is a commonly accepted cause of bloat and torsion. The dog’s belly swells to huge proportions and the dog will be in severe pain. Death can result in less than one hour! Limit his/her exercise to a time when the hound can wind down before and after eating.

Bedding. Use large carpet ends, sheepskins or cedar-chip pillows for bedding. Several types are available through pet supply stores ranging from $20.00 on up. An old baby crib mattress from a garage sale is great. Remember that puppies chew...and chew...and chew. Be sure that the stuffing from any bedding will not cause problems (not if) WHEN it is ingested by your puppy. If bedding becomes torn, get rid of it.

Toys. Hard rubber objects, pigs ears and rawhides (U.S. produced only) are best. NO pull-type toys (you’d be tempted to pull too hard). The young puppy teeth are developing and pull-toys can cause a misalignment to the mouth. Pulling is okay when it is puppy-to-puppy, but a human has a stronger pull. Worst case is the dog that cannot chew because of a misaligned bite. We do not recommend Nylabones; Gumabones seem okay. This is a personal preference.

Teeth. Have your Irish Wolfhound’s teeth cleaned or do it yourself (a demonstration is about all that is needed) about every 3-6 months. Naturally, you’ve been playing “Let’s Go To The Vet” with your puppy and s/he is ready for this. Right? The most convenient way to remember to do the dental work is to do it just before the six-month’s booster shot appointment or include it in your Vet visit or when YOU go to the dentist, do your Wolfhound’s teeth.

Ears. It is always a good idea to inspect your hound’s ears weekly. A cleaning may be needed more frequently than once a month, but be sure you do get them cleaned that often. Yeast infections, and other inflammations could lead to deafness if not properly maintained.

Feet and Nails. Keep the pads clear of tufts of hair. Check them thoroughly daily during the summer; that is the sticker and burr season. Stickers and burrs can cause infections and can kill. At the very least they can be painful and crippling. Trim the nails regularly with the dog lying down. Watch a demonstration or two and you can do it yourself. If you cut too close and the toenail bleeds, an ice cube is a handy way to stop the bleeding (or purchase a good septic powder before you begin). You could ask your vet or professional groomer to trim the nails if you are unsure.  

Dew Claws. In most of our litters, all dew claws have been removed for safety in case you decide to Lure Course your SUNSTAG (Reg.) Irish Wolfhound.

Worming. NO commercial off-the-shelf wormers. Let your Vet do this. All worms should be verified from a fecal sample by your Vet. Ask the Vet for a fecal sample container and use it! The only worm you’ll see will be tape. All others are microscopic. We have fecal samples checked every 90 days except during the summer when we check them every month. Fleas cause tape worm. Tape worms cause anemia. Anemia kills. You should have a sample checked no less than every 6 months.

Grooming. For couch potato companions, there is little grooming needed. You’ll naturally brush the dust out every day and upon coming in from outside. We’ve learned that a spray bottle with straight Listerine brand and a towel mitt are great for keeping the surface coat clean and dust-free. There is nothing like a good brushing down. A rounded-surface slicker brush is really good. Don’t bathe your dog too often; three or four times a year should be sufficient. If you don’t feed meat or meat products, your Irish Wolfhound should always have a pleasant smell. Any unpleasant odor could be caused by the anal glands. Ask your Vet or Groomer to check them for you--occasionally only; as this can be overdone. Show Grooming is a totally different story. We suggest you either purchase the DeQuoy book (see Miscellaneous, The Irish Wolfhound Guide), follow the outline in a later Section herein, or have SUNSTAG (Reg.) give you a private demonstration. We suggest that all puppies (especially Show potential ones) be hand stripped--all puppy coat “milked” or “plucked”--when the puppy is between five and eight months of age. It takes roughly four months for the adult coat to grow in, and it will be much more coarse with the early elimination of the puppy coat. NEVER USE SCISSORS or shave your hound!

Training. Begin NOW! At the car door make the puppy sit, then say, “Car”, as you lift him/her in. Always support the rear of a growing puppy. NEVER lift straight up under the forearms. Continue to play a game we call “Let’s Go To The Vet”--play with your puppy’s mouth. Show the teeth while the puppy is standing up and lying down. Tap the teeth, rub the gums, teach your puppy to accept tooth scaling, get a toothbrush and paste--use them. Play with the ears, inside and out. Open the eyes wide. Peer into the nostrils. Get your puppy ready for a vet exam by having him/her lie down quietly and to stand quietly. Learn how to take your puppy’s temperature and know what it should be. Play “Come Along” with the lead. Gently tug on the leash as you step out (starting off with puppy on the left side and using your left foot), and slap your thigh as you move forward. Coax, don’t demand. “Good dog. Good dog.” That’s the puppy’s reward. Enroll in a puppy socialization class for more details. We will happily refer you to trainers we have found to be best suited to the Irish Wolfhound.

Crate Training. This will have been started by SUNSTAG (Reg.) Irish Wolfhounds. Purchase, rent or borrow an airline-style or wire crate to continue this training. You will find it very beneficial for both you and the puppy (see section of Crate Training). We also suggest purchasing at least one 36-inch or 48-inch tall wire enclosure called an “X-Pen” (short for Exercise, we think), three brass clips, and some shade cloth (from your Nursery). You can now picnic with puppy!

Boarding. ALWAYS take your Irish Wolfhound to the kennel you have selected several times for a visit BEFORE you are ready to leave. Let him/her stay in the kennel for a few hours while you go shopping. A good kennel will appreciate your concern and may not even charge for the “babysitting” indoctrination. This is a good idea for several weeks prior to your departure. Be sure the kennel feeds, or has on hand, your dog’s brand of food. A change of food can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Boarding costs run from $15.00 to $25.00 per day. Cheap is NOT best for your Irish Wolfhound. Ideally, you will have an in-home sitter or your Vet Tech might be willing to check on your puppy in your home for a small fee.

Travel. By car or plane, the Irish Wolfhound seems to thrive on being with you no matter the conveyance. Call SUNSTAG (Reg.) for recommendations on travel enclosures or crates for air travel. We can offer details on other modes of travel and how-to information.

Conformation Shows. All the assistance you want is available through SUNSTAG (Reg.), IWCA, IWAWC, other breeders and many other IW clubs as well as county activity agencies; all you have to do is ask. SUNSTAG (Reg.) is quite willing to manage your puppy’s show career for you (if we are in your area) or arrange for a handler, if that is part of your contract...just ask.

BREEDING? STOP AND THINK of these bits of statistics: Only 2% of all Irish Wolfhounds born should be used for breeding; nearly 30% of Irish Wolfhound whelpings (births) are by Caesarian Section and cost a bundle; you may have to euthanase an entire litter. The average cost for a litter of seven Irish Wolfhounds (2008) for twelve weeks is nearly $1,000.00--without a C-Section which can add up to $2-3,000.00! Your contract with SUNSTAG (Reg.) also has outlined the answer to breeding or stud service for your puppy. Follow it.

Memberships. We encourage you to become a member of any IW club in your area, our own Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast or the South Counties Irish Wolfhound Fanciers Society, or the national club. You may not be interested in active participation, but the educational value of the various membership publications is incalculable. This information is available from SUNSTAG (Reg.) upon request as the chairpersons change regularly.

AEROGLEN, Jill Bryson, P.O. Box 1112, Broadford Rd., Hailey, ID 83333.
          ~Bursa coveralls, coursing supplies, first aid kits, shade cloth, other IW essentials and literature. Catalog: $3.00
          ~Any pet supply outlet can provide the essential items for the care and maintenance of your puppy. Check your local Yellow Pages for a major pet supplier in your area. Many are now on-line for ease of purchase and delivery.

“The Irish Wolfhound Guide”, Alfred W. DeQuoy, available from AEROGLEN. Approximately $45.00.
“Raising, Showing and Breeding the Irish Wolfhound”, Elizabeth Murphy, AEROGLEN or $35.00.
“CPR for Canines”, Carol Evert, 221 Greenland Ave., Oconomomac, WI 53066. Approximately $3.00.
“The Irish Wolfhound Quarterly”, Hoflin Publishing, 4401 Zephyr Street, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-3299. $52/yr.


IN CLOSING... There are hundreds of little tidbits that could not be included in this small booklet. We do advise that you keep in touch, call, write, e-mail, ask questions and just share with us. We all learn from the Irish Wolfhound...and each other. Please feel free to contact us over even the slightest thing. Just remember, we are your Mother-In-Law, and we love to talk IRISH WOLFHOUND..