A Giant Lady in a Giant Breed

Arguably, one of the finest early producers of Irish Wolfhounds was Mrs. Norwood Browning Smith and her “Cragwood Kennels.”  This was the same Mrs. Smith who was founder and the first president of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America organized during the Sesqui-Centennial dog show in Philadelphia in 1926, it being the first dog show ever held by the AKC. Smith was also the first American breeder to send an Irish Wolfhound to England.

It was a Cragwood dog, a great-grandson of Cragwood Darragh, then the most famous Irish wolfhound ever bred in the United States, who lived in the White House with President and Mrs. Herbert Hoover. “Patrick” was gifted to the First Couple by the breeder, former schoolmate, and old neighbor of Mrs.Hoover’s, the very same Mrs. Norwood Browning Smith. Patrick was registered with the AKC by Mrs. Hoover (and trivia alert, his number was 665,207).

Mrs. Smith passed away in 1959, but she was so devoted to her dogs that when hospitalized, she secured (wrangled, probably) permission to allow her two favorite dogs to be brought to her.  We can imagine the comfort she felt at having her dear dogs under her bed. She once said, “I like dignity in a dog [which is] why I chose St. Bernards, Scottish Deerhounds, and finally the breed which I dreamed of from the first, the Irish Wolfhound.

Certainly, what Mrs. Smith contributed to the breed made her as much a giant as her Irish Wolfhounds were.

Image of Mrs. Smith taking her dogs out for a “romp” on the Smiths’ Rosegill estate in Urbanna, Virginia.

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