Irish Wolfhound Club of America, Inc.

How Much Exercise Is Appropriate For a Young IW?

By Mel Mercer, DVM, CCRT

Click here to read the entire article (first published in Harp & Hound, Autumn 2014)

There has been a fair amount of debate regarding the proper amount of exercise for young wolfhounds. Some well-known breeders, particularly Mary McBryde in The Irish Wolfhound, Symbol of Celtic Splendor, contend that playtime should be limited to no more than 20 minute episodes until the pup is 10 months old, that play areas should not be large enough to allow a fast gallop and that there should be no opportunity for sudden stops or turns. She allows no contact with stairs and does not allow them to stand on their hind legs until after one year of age. She states that pulling on a leash at a young age will “encourage distortions of the front legs and may damage the spinal column.” And, finally that “If you have a very heavy-boned, tall male then it is probably safer to not let the puppy gallop until the growth plates are closed at 13 months old.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum are other well-known breeders, including Florence Nagle and Ruth Jenkins who, while specifically warning against enforced or coaxed exercise, allow more free play and do not put severe restrictions on galloping after six months. Zena Thorn-Andrews of Drakesleat fame goes further, writing: “Another thing is dogs need to have suitable exercise right from their puppyhood days.” And: “I also exercise my dogs right from eight weeks old. My wolfhounds have always been out. They’re not caged. And all this business about not exercising them until they’re six months old is just rubbish because by then, they’re totally wrecked......”

This page was last updated 03/30/2018.