Anthony Killykeen-Doyle 55 years in
by Anne Mette Mikkelsen
Tony (on the rigt) with Emer
be asked to write an article about Anthony Killykeen-Doyle or just
Tony is a great honour. But I must also say that after saying yes to
do so, I felt petrified, how to write an article worthy of the man,
a person who is known by most of us as Mr. Wolfhound; and the
This year we celebrate Tony’s 55 year anniversary owning and
breeding Irish Wolfhounds. He got his first own wolfhound as a
birthday present from his parents when he
With this heritage in his blood, Tony never wanted to do anything
else but own and breed Irish Wolfhounds. He was sent to boarding
schools as a youngster, but he eloped several
He was very lucky to have all these great breeders as his good friends and mentors; he spent a lot of time in their kennels and learned so much from them: Florence Nagle, Delphis Gardner, Mrs Groverman Ellis, Miss Harrison and Sheelagh Seal. Also his grandmother’s cousins, the Loughrey sisters had Kennel Ross, famous for their Irish Deerhounds. Kennek Ross was founded around 1911, they remained productive until well after the second world war. All these mentors taught him everything he knows about the Irish Wolfhound, Tony says they trusted him to remain faithful to what they had taught him, to keep on breeding the old bloodlines, the traditional type.
Now 55 years later, I think we can congratulate him on succeeding at doing exactly that.
Emer, Tony’s first dog never produced pups; his first litter was out of Ballykelly Kilkenny of Killykeen. This was about 19 generations ago; we can still see this same style in Tony’s breeding program today. He has always been very true to the type he started with and was taught to breed and treasure. Tony says with a great deal of pride and defiance: “I don’t breed show dogs, I breed Irish Wolfhounds!” He has dedicated his life to this breed and his beloved hound, he estimates during the 55 years he has spent 3 inheritance, preserving, keeping, breeding and feeding his Irish Wolfhounds.
It has indeed been a privilege to be able to stay with him at his home in Co. Cavan, to be mentored and learn the history, his breeding methods and his ideas. Just learning how he feeds them the old way; with milk, eggs and meat, walking with him and the hounds in the field, just taking in all the wisdom and knowledge. I count it a privilege and soak it all in. Staying there for a week at a time, getting involved in performing the daily routines with him has been a high level education. It has taught me most of what I know about Irish Wolfhounds. When visitors call on Tony he often starts the visit with the declaration “I don’t think you will like what I have”, modern breeders and Wolfhound fanciers are not used to seeing these old style Irish Wolfhounds. The type is very slow to develop, they not miniature Wolfhounds at the age of 6 months, they grow slowly, and are not fully mature before 4-5 years old. It is very impressive to note that year after year he always has 3 to 4 generations in the kennel. Old hounds looking great at 12-14 years old! We all have a lot to learn from this man.
Today, his dedication and love for this breed, is causing him a
great deal of despair. He sees the Wolfhound being compromised by
breeders who think they are improving the breed. Tony says that
about 90% of the Irish Wolfhounds we see today are incorrect when
compared to the hounds of yesteryear. The breed has become too
commercialized and developed into a
that is not able to do the work it was intended to do. They have
low on their feet, with a soft and long coat and way too heavy to do
what they were originally bred to do; hunt, kill and protect the
family! He is often shocked when reading critiques from specialties
around the world, where specialists of the breed have been judging.
When he looks at that the best in show critique says:
like him a little higher on his feet”,
He often speaks of the old great kennels that only breed from the very best stock they had. Years ago a typical kennel would have had 3 to 4 quality stud dogs, today we could only dream of visiting a kennel with a bitch to mate, with such a strong offering of stud dogs. Today many breeders use what is convenient, usually what they have in their own stock. These breeders are not using a critical eye, or thinking of long term consequences when evaluating a potential breeding. Lots of today’s breeders pick dogs according to their show ring results. Tony’s observations of many of the show dogs in the ring these days today is that “most of them could not even kill a cat”, and certainly not pull down a deer, wolf or other large game. Furthermore, after viewing some of them, he thinks they would have problems outrunning the cat!
Tony does take solace in the fact that there are still are handful people in every country that are willing to breed the true Irish Wolfhound, not the typical show dogs we see today. Dogs of great size and commanding appearance, where nothing is short, where LENGTH goes throughout the entire Hound, as describe in the standard. It is length from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail! These dogs have long legs, covering much ground and with lots of daylight under. Dogs according to Tony ought to have a rough coat, not these silky long coats that that are camouflaged with beer or sugar-water and formed into shape. He often says: “Rough coat not to be interpreted as long!” The longest hair should be over eyes and under the jaw.
This 55th anniversary did not pass unnoticed by Irish
Wolfhound lovers. At these years Irish Wolfhound Specialty in
Ireland this past June one of Tony’s
best friends, Velda Clark crafted him a wonderful celebration card
and had a fantastic cake formed as an Irish Wolfhound head. Velda
let everyone of his friends at the show secretly sign the card then
after the show she presented it to him, it gave us all the
opportunity to celebrate this
So an behalf of all your Irish wolfhound friends from around the world