Finding a Reputable Breeder

Whenever purchasing an Irish Wolfhound, or any other breed for that matter, always make sure you are buying from a reputable and more importantly from an ethical breeder. Always check with IWCC Breeder Referral. Unfortunately there are a few not so reputable breeders who claim they are members of a club or association that is not recognized by either the Canadian Kennel Club or the America Kennel Club.

Here are but a few of the essentials to look for:

  • If possible, personally visit the breeder’s premises.
  • Obtain references before placing a deposit or otherwise making a commitment to purchase an Irish Wolfhound.
  • Contact the Irish Wolfhounds Club of Canada (IWCC) or the Irish Wolfhounds Club of America (IWCA) to insure the breeder is a member in good standing as each breeder is required to sign and abide by the IWCC Code of Ethics and the IWCA Standard of Behavior for Breeders. In addition, the Canadian or American Kennel Club (CKC /AKC) can also assist you in regards to any complains they may have received involving the member/breeder .
  • The breeder has elected to display their contact information online.
  • The breeder will act responsibly towards all puppies produced by their bitch and the breeder should, whenever possible, keep in contact with the new owner for the lifetime of the puppies.
  • A reputable breeder will normally breed an individual bitch every second season and this bitch will not produce more than three litters in her lifetime. Please verify the breeder’s litter information with the CKC or AKC to insure he/she is not over breeding his/her bitches.
  • A breeder should never breed for personal profit or commercial exploitation of the breed and should never breed for the pet market but only to preserve and improve the breed.
  • Some breeders falsely advertise puppies “come from champion lines…” Ask to see the pedigree of the offspring to ascertain if in fact the puppy’s sire, dam, grandsire, grand dam etc have received their Championship through the CKC, AKC or any other accredited international kennel club. Many breeders claim their litters come from champion lines but upon closer investigation, only a fourth or fifth generation sire and/or dam did actually achieve this title.
  • A breeder should not stress nor guarantee height or weight in his/her advertisement for puppies. Bigger is not always necessarily better.
  • The breeder should have a contract ready to be signed and should address each and every clause of the agreement with the potential purchaser to insure the responsibilities of both parties are clearly listed, understood and agreed upon.
  • And no, not only does the breeder have the right to ask questions. The potential buyer should interview the breeder as well. Among examples of questions to ask could be:
    • How many puppies does this breeder/kennel produce per year?
    • Will the puppies by registered with a national/international kennel club.
    • Which health problems run in the line? An ethical breeder will disclose honestly what his or her old dogs died from and at what age. Someone who tries telling a potential purchaser they never had this or that health problem is not trustworthy.
    • Are any of the breeders sires or dams carriers of / or affected with any congenital disease.
    • What tests are performed on the parents of the litters? (This is extremely important; eyes, hips, elbows, heart & Brucellosis tests should be done on all breeding pairs prior to breeding.)
    • Ask to see the test result certificates from O.F.A. (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or C.H.I.C. (Canine Health Information Center) to certify that the tests were indeed performed and the results are registered with the O.F.A. You can also go online to see the certificates and health information at: or
    • What was the reason for this particular litter? (Typically a reputable breeder will plan for a litter in order to keep one for their breeding program)
    • What tests are performed on the puppies? (They should have been vetted, vaccinated, dewormed and Liver Shunt tested; again Very Important: Ask to see a copy of the vet’s reports and Liver Shunt results for the individual puppies)
    • What is the return policy?
    • What are the health guarantees?
    • Is the breeder available to answer questions and concerns and support the new owners for the life of the dog after it has left the breeder’s premises?
    • Will the breeder allow you to see and interact with the parents, or with the dam if the sire is not on site?
    • What items, if any, does the puppy leave with? (i.e. collar, leash, food, toys, instructions, contact numbers, veterinarian health certificates, etc)
    • Will the breeder assist you in showing the puppy should you decide to engage in dog showing, and if so, in what capacity? (Some breeders claim their litters are show quality but have never shown or had their dogs shown and therefore are ill-equipped to make such a claim.)
    • There is a Facebook group devoted to exposing puppy mills; please join it to save yourself much heartache and vet bills: Search and submit your request to join Irish Wolfhound Puppymills Exposed

Once you are satisfied you are dealing with a reputable and ethical breeder, and you have purchased your beautiful Irish Wolfhound puppy, take him/her home and fully enjoy every moment; owners of this phenomenal breed are truly blessed.


Here is a beautiful poem depicting the heart wrenching pain of losing a puppy bought from a not-so-reputable breeder: (posted with permission)

Into the Abyss ~ by Helen Rohan

I read the warnings never buy online... find a good breeder, you'll be fine.

I called a few just to ask, but no one had a litter
They wanted me to visit them, and for them to visit me
But I want one now, not next year, that's way too long for me

So I'll just look on puppyfind, and peek at nextdaypets
Oh look right here, two dozen ads, I can't believe my luck
This breeder must be good, they've be members for so long
And from what they say, their dogs are great, they are all from Champions

Rare colors for two hundred more, and with full breeding rights
All from the comfort of my couch, oh what a perfect night
I ordered one, they said that's great, you're now top of my list
I'll email you when pups are born, just send the money quick

They said she is an awesome mum, and produces lovely litters
the last few times, she'd had 12 pups and raised each one herself.
All they asked was a deposit, so I mailed my check that day
Oh wow, now I have a puppy, just need to wait the day.

I picked him up just past 6 weeks, yes what a joyous day.
No we don't test for anything, hey they're the best in the US of A.
Just pay us the money, and be off on your way
don't call we'll be busy, our eighth litter this year is on the way

But my puppy did seem tiny, but as cute as he could be
I fell in love on that first night, but something niggled me
A few weeks later I noticed something really odd
He kept circling around, and then staring into space

He wasn't doing really well, he didn't want to eat
He hardly played, and seemed quite weak, and just laid on my knee
I took him in to see a vet, and wondered what was wrong
And then the news was such a shock, my heart ripped out my chest.

All I heard was Liver Shunt, his body's shutting down
The best thing we could do for him would be to put him down.
No, No, No .. surely not, there must be something we can do
I sobbed, and sobbed, and held him close until his last heart beat.

He's gone they said, he's now at peace, be glad for him it's over
But I loved my pup, he was my world, which felt like it too was ending
Goodbye my pup, our time was short, I can't believe he's gone
This hurts so bad, to let him go, his life had not begun

The pain went on for days and weeks, I could not let it go
He was the dearest thing to me, and how I loved him so
I finally got up the nerve, to call and tell the breeder
But they never answered, not one call, not even one damn email

I think about him quite a bit, I'll never forget his eyes
The look he gave, the night he left will haunt me till I die.
I wonder if he's happy and enjoying life at the bridge
I hope one day he'll run to me so we can finally be as one.

So will I get another? yes but not just yet,
my heart is still too heavy, and my choices I regret,
I'm now talking to a breeder, whom I totally respect,
So maybe in a year or so, there will be one for me,
we'll just have to wait and see.


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