New: 29 July 2009



A recent inquiry by one of our families brings me to this developmental timeline for you. One of the important factors at SUNSTAG is that we never feed Puppy Chow foods—I believe that product is too often heavily milk-based and when I think of the natural Irish Wolfhound, I see the mother weaning her litter and the puppies growing from that point on without MILK totally. Why would we add milk products after the Dam has decided they didn’t need it anymore? That is not to say YOU should not feed a puppy formula product which does not include milk in their ingredients; you MUST always read the ingredient labels on any product. Even though you do not understand ALL of the ingredients, it would be the first five that you do understand. Another factor is that the Irish Wolfhound has a very fast growth rate and the higher protein levels in Puppy formulas can hinder and harm, rather than enhance that process. A case in point, panosteitis—a physical disorder generally supposed to be caused by a high protein ratio in the food. We advise the families to cut back on the protein. HOWEVER, when you have a high protein product you also should have a specific calcium and fat ratio to properly blend these three items. I calculate that this higher calcium content is a major factor in this disorder. We start our puppies on the ADULT MAINTENANCE FORMULA which I have blended into powder--no Giant Dog formula; no Puppy Chow formula, just the plain kibble you feed the rest of the hounds—and we have half a dozen or more. This also means there is no transitional stage as the puppy reaches the pre-adult stage when the food companies advise going onto the Adult variety. All this said, brings me back to the original commentary: the Irish Wolfhound Puppy Development Timeline. 

Born; Weight 1#10 oz to 2#2 oz… this data is incidental as all hounds have individually “programmed” growth processes.

10 Days: Eyes opening; recognizes Mom and occasionally siblings. The big things in their day? Eating! Sleeping! Scooting over to Eat or Sleep!

17-21 Days: Still nursing; mouth fighting with siblings; tumbling and climbing over Mom; can lap water from a bowl. “Cruising”—starting to walk on all fours; half the time plowing the floor with nose-first tumbles!

28 Days/4 Weeks: Milk teeth start bothering Mom and she may be less inclined to nurse, but not yet ready to wean. Puppies are walking more steadily.

32 Days: Good time to introduce toys. Be alert to puppies dragging the toys through poops and pees. Toys should be soft and washable. Mild weaning can begin with a “pablum” like softened Adult food. We add a bit of Goat’s Milk as an enticing flavor. House breaking begins; stair descending/ascending begins; outside experiences begin on an enclosed porch attached to the house just outside their birthing/sleeping/eating area. Solidly on all 4 paws; climbing on cardboard boxes and ramps; eating and sleeping—a lot!.

5 to 6 Weeks: First puppy shots (DHLPP); visitors can now come by for a viewing; play fighting intensifies; hard toys and rope toys can be introduced. DO NOT play tug-a-war with the puppies!! Let puppies do this as they have equal strengths and will not harm the puppy bites. No more goat’s milk additive. Puppies will alert to finger-strumming on the food bowl and Breeder’s voice. Have become trained to do their “business” outside on a paper/cardboard covered area—they are semi-housebroken.

7-8 Weeks: Puppies will begin to recognize Breeder’s call and the names called out—not specifically to their OWN names since that changes when they go to their home. I personally like to simply use “Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!” to attract them to me. Since I also use the words “Come on”, they will also react to COME as a word. Selection process begins for puppy families.

9-10 Weeks: Additional socializing with neighbor kids/friends/visitors. Final selection of the families for the puppy with the personality and temperament suited to that family. Yes, the family visiting here can indicate their preference; I will make the final decision—rather, the puppy will!!  

10-12 Weeks: Shipments and pick-ups begin. Last Sunstag vaccination has been given. I vaccinate every 3 weeks (5-8-11) so that puppies will have at least 2 shots before going to their homes. Once in their homes, the family is responsible for the first vet visit within 72 hours where they have another DHLPP shot and a Well-Puppy Check-Up; this begins their Vet Record on their puppy. Results of that check-up are communicated to me. Weights can be between 25-35 pounds. DO NOT allow puppy loose anywhere without supervision—this is like giving a 2-year-old human a hammer and turning him loose in your living room. Good Luck!! An encounter with another dog (animal) must always be monitored. Either animal can accidentally hurt the other. This is also true with puppy and small children—an exuberant puppy can knock over a child; an exuberant child can break a puppy’s back.

4 Months: Rabies shot given—NO OTHER SHOTS MAY BE GIVEN WITH THIS ONE; nor any medication within 10 days of this shot. Puppy is possibly getting up once or twice a night to go out for elimination. Visits to the vet and a Puppy socialization class will add to the puppy’s self-confidence.

18 Weeks: Puppy is learning how to relate to new family members; responds to basic conversational “commands”. House breaking continues with family learning how puppy signals s/he needs to go out.

5 Months: Puppy training classes should begin. Rabies certificate copy will have to be presented to the Training Club. Puppy teeth are dropping out and adult teeth appearing. There could be some discomfort so we advise a cold carrot or an old wet sock frozen then given to puppy. The cold helps numb the discomfort of a new tooth—just like with human babies! Fairly steady in the house-breaking routine and no more accidents in the house.

6 Months: Will respond most of the time to “commands”; still rather independent and doing her/his own thing. Going on walks of ¼ mile TOTAL is permitted. Probably sleeping through the night. Lots of socialization—going to the Pet Store, walking around a park (ON LEASH!), visiting friends. Dog Park visits can begin if you are very alert! Puppy is about half her/his adult height and weighs about 75 to 100+ pounds. Over the next weeks, you can gradually increase the length of walks. Observe the fatigue level puppy presents; if need be, sit down to rest for a few minutes before returning home.

8 Months: Puppy is at about 70% to 80% total height and weight. And, your house is still standing! Some experimental off-leash exercise (a school yard?) other than at a Dog Park, may be started. I suggest training with a Sports Whistle—For Example: a looonnng blow means STOP IMMEDIATELY; a short Tweet-Tweet means COME… work out your own convenient 5 or 6 whistle command responses which works for you. This can save you a lot of fear and anxiety if your puppy walks off (or chases off) when you are out hiking somewhere new. As an example of this fast growth process—the only other mammal that grows faster is the Blue Whale!! The Irish Wolfhound is the fastest growing land mammal!!

9 Months: Formal Puppy training is complete and s/he is nearly reliable in responses.

12-18 Months: The enjoyment you are having with your puppy cannot be expressed! While not quite a grown-up Irish Wolfhound, your puppy now has a “brain”—we call it “a visit from the Brain Fairy”. Puppy is making (believe-it-or-not) informed, experiential decisions and storing away these experiences for any possible future use. Puppy is reaching maturity sexually, socially and emotionally.

 What an amazing adventure for you all!!

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