Grooming your wolfhound
Dont be afraid to have a go at hand stripping your Wolfhound - you just need a bit of patience and practice-anyone can do it! I hope you find the following information helpful.
The Irish Wolfhound does not require a huge amount of grooming however you will need to brush him over a couple of times a week to remove any dirt, stimulate the skin check him over and keep him looking neat. I use a soft brush and a comb with rotating prongs to brush my dogs. Occasionally you might need to wash out the beard area to keep it clean. With bitches I wash their back ends with a mild dog shampoo and warm water to keep them clean as required.
I only bath my dogs once or twice a year at most and then only if they really need it. Its easier if you can wash them outside in the summer or if you have a walk in shower. Only use a dog shampoo as human shampoo has a different pH and can irritate their skin. A wolfhounds coat should not be soft so it is best to use a harsh coat or terrier shampoo, do not use a conditioner.
A wolfhound nails should be short, if you can hear your dogs nails click on a hard floor when it is walking they are too long. When cutting the nail don’t forget they have a nerve in the nail so you must be careful not to cut the nerve. Cut off a small amount at a time, you can always cut off a bit more if needed. Darker dogs with black nails are more difficult as you cant see the nerve so with experience you will learn how much to remove. You can use either the guillotine cutters or nail pliers. I prefer the plier type but both work well. If you cut off too much nail they might start to bleed in which case you can use a product such as Quick Stop to stop the bleeding.
Also your dogs teeth should be checked and brushed using a dog toothpaste, I do brush my dogs teeth once a week, they love it! Gnaw bones and chews are also useful for the dog to chew and remove plaque, keeping the teeth clean.
It is important to check the inside of your wolfhounds ears to make sure they are clean. If they smell or look dirty they will need to be cleaned using a dog ear cleaning solution (such as those pictured below) and cottonwool. Do not use ear buds.I check inside my dogs ears at least once a week and clean them out probably every 2 weeks. If your dog is scratching their ears or head shaking a lot they may have an infection and need vet advise.
The Irish Wolfhound has two coats, longer hairs that form the top coat and shorter hairs that form the under coat. It is the top coat of longer hairs that need removing twice a year by a process called “stripping”. Do not clip the coat using clippers as this will change the texture of the coat and also the colour will become dull over time. Usually the longer hairs will loosen but not fall out when it is ready to be stripped so you will need to help remove the top coat. This can be done in two ways, firstly by hand or secondly using a stripping knife. If you use a stripping knife you will use a coarse knife on the body and a finer one for the face. You hold the knife blade between your thumb and bent first finger and you strip a small piece of coat in the direction of hair growth. Don’t twist your wrist or this will cause a cutting action-keep your wrist straight. Start at the top of the neck and work down the body (as per hand stripping instructions).
I always start at the back of the neck and work along the dog in the direction the coat grows. Hold the coat with one hand so the skin is not loose and with the other hand grasp a few hairs between your thumb and forefinger and pull in the direction of hair growth. Do not twist the hairs. The dead coat should come out easily.
The neck should be long, well arched and strong so as with all grooming this is what you want to accentuate. Start at the top of the neck and strip out the coat down to the shoulders. At the sides of the neck any excess hair should be stripped out so the neck looks clean. The throat should be stripped short in a V shape until you can feel the top of the rib cage on the breast.
The hair on the shoulders should lay flat against the shoulder blade and not look too rounded.
Back and sides
The back should be stripped all the way along to the tail and down the sides of the dog, continuing to strip in the direction of hair growth.
The belly should be stripped out to show the classic tuck up of the underline. Be careful though as this is a sensitive area, so care should be taken.
Thigh and Rear
The thigh and rear should look sporty and not heavy so strip the coat to give a clean look.
The base of the tail should be stripped out to give a neat straight line tail. The tail should be long and groomed to show this. The top line of the back should flow into the tail seamlessly. All excess fringing below the tail should be stripped out-it should not look like a Golden retriever!
The legs should show strength and angulations so the hair should be stripped short to show this.
Elbows should look neat so any excess hair should be stripped away so it looks clean and nor fluffy.
Pasterns and feet
The bend of the pastern should be seen so the coat should be stripped quite short to show this. The feet should be stripped short also, to show the toes that should be well arched. Stripping should show off these features. The hair between the pads on the foot should be trimmed with blunt scissors to look neat.
The crown of the head should be clearly visible and so should be stripped short, blending in to the neck. The outside of the ears should be stripped of all hair so they feel like velvet. The inner ear should have any excess hair removed so they are clean. Any hair around the base of the ear should be tidied up. The hair on the face should be short except the eyebrows and beard which should be kept longer giving the Wolfhound its classic look.
Although this whole process will take several hours on a fully grown dog, it is definitely worth it and your dog will enjoy the fuss-mine do!