Show Grooming an Irish Wolfhound

July 11, 2012


For the show ring, the Wolfhound should be cleaned up so as to show the form of the dog.

Irish Wolfhound groomed

Notice the obvious sighthound outline and clean appearance

Hand-stripping the coat is an effective way to remove the dead hairs that cause a fluffy or ungainly appearance. Hand-stripping of an Irish Wolfhound is different than stripping a terrier coat. With IWs, you remove only the hair that is detracting from the shape of the hound, NOT pull every guard hair from the dog’s body. The goal is to present a hound that bears the correct “sighthound” silhouette. Your dog’s outline should be immediately recognizable as a coursing hound, rather than an overgrown Bouvier or a Shetland Pony. Cleaning up can involve a lot of work – especially for hounds with a heavy coat, which are inclined to grow soft, long hair.


Many dogs will have long silky hairs in and around the ears, as well as between the toes. The hair from the ears must be removed with finger and thumb a little at a time. Pulling these hairs, rather than cutting them, makes them grow back rougher and stronger. Most people use thinning shears or clippers to remove the hair from the feet, as this is a very tender area, and the judge will not be feeling the texture of the hair between your dog’s toes.


Clean up the hair that grows in ridges down the sides of the neck, behind the ears, and under the jaw. This characteristic “mane” is usually more prominent in males, but every dog is different. If your dog has a ton of hair at the base of the neck where it meets the withers; take it down a notch. The goal is to allow the judge to see the shape of the neck, from the juncture at the head, to the smooth transition into the body. Next, look at your dog’s chest and shoulders. Can you see a discernible difference between the legs and the chest? If not, thin out a bunch of the hair on and below the point of the shoulder.

This can be done a variety of ways, depending on what works best for your dog’s coat texture. We use a Mars Coat King, a variety of stripping knives, a simple comb and a Furminator. Try each and see which will be best for your hound.

show grooming an irish wolfhoundTHE HEAD:

Groom the head so that the planes of the skull can be seen, with no fur to spoil the lines of the top and sides of the head. The goal here is to create parallel lines with the cheekbones. The head, from the occiput to the top of the stop, should be hand-stripped until clean. The remaining hairs are often a different color than the dead outer hairs, and lay close to the skin. This is correct. Do not bald your dog, and make sure to blend the back of the head into the neck- it should not be obvious that there is a difference in coat between the head and neck.


Strip the hair under the belly, especially under the tuck-up, so that there is not long fringe hanging down and spoiling the underline. The hindquarters should appear as a fluid extension of the body, and the hair should not flop or wobble. These “saddlebags” of hair are extremely ugly, and disrupt the outline of the dog both standing and when moving. Strip any over-thick hair from the base of the tail so that the curve of the topline flows smoothly down into the tail, and do the same to any area where the hair is sticking out in tufts or not lying smoothly. The outline of the hound should flow in a series of curves.


If your dog has a feathered tail, those hairs are all dead and pale, and need to be taken out. Your dog will probably not like this, so take it slowly. When you’re finished, the tail should create a smooth line, not look like a flag.

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About BredByBitch

Hello! My name is Dani, and I've been in the "dog world" since I was 8 years old. My mother raises and breeds Irish Wolfhounds, which was my introduction to the show ring. I showed in Junior Showmanship for many years before aging out and getting my first German Wirehaired Pointer. I live in Tucson, AZ with my German Wirehaired Pointer, Luke. Luke is my man, from my first home-bred litter of wires.

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One Response to “Show Grooming an Irish Wolfhound”

  1. Christine Bouman Says:

    Hi, Dani….love this site and grooming Sterlyng for showing again. Very helpful but miss your expertise. Going to handling class w Melinda Chaney Sunday. Hope to see you soon!!


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