Of course if you talk about breeding IW, health will take a very essential position in the way of thinking and breeding.
There is a lot to do about longlivity in Irish wolfhound, and it is a good thing.

If you look in manuals of genetic deseases in dogs, you can find a lot of breeds with pages and pages of problems. Our IW in fact has some problems , but not a big list of them.
I do think so that most of the IW that die early have a problem either with the CDM or with Osteosarcoma.

In Belgium the official club ( ) is very strong in her rules about breeding . We need to check the dogs every year for a serious heart test done by cardiologists.
If I use an older bitch ( over 6 years old ) for a litter, I will do the heart test in the beginning of the heath, se we are sure that at this moment everything is ok, because it would be very unfair to use a test from 10 months ago......

Of course it is a piece of cake to get a good heart test on a young bitch, in fact those bitches (or males ) do not prove anything till they are getting over 6 ......
That is also the reason we try to combinate a younger bitch to an older male, just to have a certain amount more of ' prohability of getting older ' .
It is so that in Belgium we are working now since 1998 with those heart checks , and yes it appears getting better with the breed. Of course this problem in IW will not be , will never be , ' out of the breed, but it is very important that people stay very close to reality and that those heart checks will be done over and over again.

We try also to work together with official vets in doiing some research, and it is not one research we are working with ; we support several researchers. It is so that how more people are getting a close look to ' a problem ' that how more brains are used, how better we wil understand the problem and in a long run maybe doiing something about it. But we will always have to be carefull because solving one problem in not always keeping the others away...

I also want to preech for using older bitches and males. I do know that I get much critique on the fact that I dare to mate a bitch from nearly 8 years old ( Rathkeale's Jewel, Shaellagh of FA ) BUT those bitches proved they where in a very good health. They where never sick, they where in such good condition that anyone who looks for longlivity in IW can understand me. We will have to do this for a period of time, so that the breed will benefit from it. And I realise that we need to make a monument for those bitches and males who are proven to be in the best condition.

Osteosarcoma is also a problem in breeding. The bad thing about osteosarcoma is that it affect also very young dogs, like in humans......
It is also very painfull and I do understand that some IW owners will never forget this again.
Here also we are giving bloodsamples to several researchers, from young dogs that died from it but also from old dogs who had no problems.

I do hope that as DNA research progresses that we will know more , and this will be a bless to the breed...

Dr. Regine Vandamme