Thinking of getting an Irish Wolfhound puppy?  Why? 

For company, for long walks on the beach, or through the woods, walking miles across open fields or park land? Lots of exercise to tire you both out and become healthy?   

Your dream will eventually happen, but with a new Irish Wolfhound puppy you have to wait and take it easy for the first 12 months at least. The idea of exercise is always associated with a new puppy, but this can inadvertently use more harm than good. 

Firstly you must look at your hound puppy and realise that, to become a giant, there is a lot of growing to be accomplished. To allow this process to happen, Mother Nature has provided soft areas at the end of the long bones in your puppies legs, these soft areas called “Growth Plates”. The growth plates contain fast dividing cells, which allow the bones to become longer, and gradually these plates thin and the growth plates calcify or harden, but this doesn’t happen until puberty has finished. 

Your puppy also has soft tissue in the form of muscles, ligaments and tendons and these are far stronger than the soft growth plates. Unlike with us humans, it will not be the soft tissue which will absorb the sprains, it will be these all important growth plates. Therefore your puppy can seriously be harmed by twisting and turning and jumping. If the growth plate is damaged it may not be possible for it to heal in time for puppy’s legs to grow correctly. Such an injury can result in a shortened limb or an incorrect angle to a joint. If this kind of injury happens to a large hound it can have a detrimental effect on the way they continue to grow and cause untold suffering and pain. 

In addition to soft growth plates puppy also has very soft bones and this leads to all kinds of injuries when growing. Twists and turns when playing and jumping out of the car or off furniture can put undue pressure on the lower leg bone (tibia) and lead to fractures. 

What kind of exercise is best? 

Free play is the best play for your puppy. Exploring the garden, and pottering around, until he is tired and flops down. Listen to him at this point, he will tell you when he is tired. 

What kind of exercise is not good? 

Repetitive exercise is bad! So no long walks, just lots of free play. This is the time to try and incorporate some training and keep puppy busy, both in mind and body. Short bursts of positive training with rewards can easily tire your puppy out. 

What about a play mate? 

A well matched play mate is always good, but chose wisely, not one who gives puppy huge paw whacks and not one who likes to body swipe, these too can cause injuries. 

What about getting out of the car? 

Well jumping off anything, including the sofa, the bed, or any piece of furniture, is not good. It is one of the major causes of spiral fractures and damage to growth plates, along with bounding up and down steps and stairs. Any kind of movement which causes impact on the growth plates or a twist of a bone is to be avoided at all costs. Your growing puppy needs a soft cushioned and aided landing when getting off the sofa or bed! 

Neutering a Wolfhound too early

Don’t forget spaying or castrating (neutering) your hound before 18 months of age and the normal changes have occurred will lead to delays in the growth plates closing. So it is worth while waiting if you are considering this.