Enthusiasts of the tallest dog breed in the world are preparing to launch a special online database that will hopefully improve the health of Irish Wolfhounds in the future.
The launch coincides with the group judging for hounds at Crufts on Sunday 13 March. The project aims to fulfill the need for an open database containing the details of as many Irish Wolfhounds as possible and is aimed at breeders, researchers or just people who care about the breed.
Per Arne Flatberg, one of the founders of the project and one of five trustees of the group, says, "We are all passionate about our breed and passionate about educating people on what pedigrees can tell us. We want to reach out to everyone who’s interested in Irish Wolfhounds, whether they are breeders, owners, scientists, or just love the breed."
Buyers and breeders will be able to research a prospective breeder's history and the data will hopefully help to identify puppy-mills or breeders who follow unethical practices. The breed also faces challenges such as its short lifespan, which the project hopes to address. Tools are also being added to allow researchers access to the raw data through their own programming interface, to help provide new insights into the breed.
"By including longevity-information and cause of death in the database, it’s our hope that breeders will both share and use this information to possibly breed dogs that have a potential for a longer life. We believe most breeders are as passionate about the breed as we are and will do the right choices if data is available in a friendly way.
"At the moment we estimate there are around 19,500 Irish Wolfhounds worldwide. Although the breed is on the endangered breeds list in the UK, it’s actually doing quite well around the world. That being said, we see a drop in registrations over the last few years which give cause for concern. As a group we don’t have an opinion on whether there should be more or less Irish Wolfhounds. What we do care about is that the ones we have are as healthy as possible and that we preserve as much genetic material as possible."
The database can be found at http://www.iwdb.org/ which goes live on Sunday.