Grooming an Irish wolfhound is a fair old time commitment, and not just because of the amount of dog you have to brush. Wolfhounds have thick and occasionally woolly coats, which need a good going over to remove dead hair and prevent mats. The patches of long hair in awkward places don’t help.
Ask your wolfhound to stand or sit in front of you. Basic grooming, mainly combing and brushing, is only required once or twice a week.
Starting at the nape of the neck and working down, methodically comb through his coat, taking your time when teasing out tangles or the objects, such as grass seeds and burrs, he might have picked up outside. Return to his head to comb the hair below his jaws and on his forehead.
Brush through any particularly tangled parts of his coat with the slicker brush. This brush also removes dead hair so it is a good idea to give him a proper going over with it when he is shedding.
Trim the longer hairs on his face, tail and legs with the scissors as required. Blunt-nose scissors are safest, but make sure that the blades are sharp.
Brush through the rest of his coat with the bristle brush.
Moisten a cotton ball with water or a proprietary ear-cleaning solution, lift his ear flap and wipe the accessible areas carefully, without pushing or scraping. Making sure nothing goes into the actual ear canal. Use another ball for his other ear.
Brush his teeth as per the advice of your vet or dog groomer. Good hygiene helps prevent dental problems emerging later. This is a procedure that you need to see demonstrated first, and to which you might need to spend some time accustoming your dog.
Bathe him once every 6 to 8 weeks, not more frequently. Do so after combing. A dog the size of an Irish wolfhound is not going to fit comfortably in the tub and certainly not in a baby bath, so your best option is the shower. Get the shower running lukewarm water and dampen his fur before massaging in a little dog shampoo, avoiding his head. Despite his apparently coarse coat, your own shampoo is too harsh. Rinse out the shampoo and repeat the procedure with conditioner. After the final rinse, let him out of the shower and stand well back while he shakes. Once he’s finished, towel his fur until it is nearly dry. Comb through once more to prevent tangles from developing.
Check his feet at the end of each grooming session. Lift each one up to check for injury, then walk him over a hard surface, observing his gait closely. The greyhound-like build and active nature makes an Irish wolfhound vulnerable to leg and foot problems. If you see any swelling or notice him limping even slightly, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. When his nails make a clicking sound when he walks on a hard surface, they need to be trimmed, not for cosmetic reasons but to prevent him developing foot problems.
- Use a soft bristle brush on an Irish wolfhound puppy to get him used to the grooming routine early. Also, get him accustomed to having his mouth touched. Trying to groom a big dog who doesn’t really want to be is not a fun experience. Transition to a stiffer brush and the comb once he is a few months old.
- Take your dog to a professional groomer at least once and ask to be shown the procedures for tooth brushing, ear cleaning and nail clipping. Not only can these be awkward, but without a proper in-person demonstration, you risk hurting your pet.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.