Irish Wolfhounds are intelligent, calm, and usually friendly dogs. Participation in dog sports such as lure coursing, racing, running, tracking, agility, rally and standard obedience as sport can help to provide physical and mental stimulation while helping the Irish Wolfhound bond with its family. Irish Wolfhounds also bond with people in animal assisted-therapy dogs. Their reputation as a good family dog allows them to be around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression. Irish Wolfhounds are also described as being sensitive dogs, which means a reward-based approach to training is important to further the dog's bond to the family.
The Irish Wolfhound breed dates back as far as the first century, with some speculating that it may go back even further. Irish Wolfhounds were exhibited in Ancient Rome where they amazed and terrified Romans such that the dogs could only be transported in cages. Their great size, speed and intelligence made them excellent boar hunting dogs. The breed was likely to have been introduced to Ireland by the Celts, who referred to them as the "Cu Faoil." The Celts bred them as war dogs to knock armored knights from their horses and they were also trained to be highly skilled wolf hunters. The training of the breed for that purpose was so successful that the wolf no longer exists in Ireland today. During the nineteenth century, the breed's numbers dwindled. Captain Graham, a Scottish officer, is credited with a breeding effort that saved the Irish Wolfhound from extinction in the late nineteenth century, and the modern traits of the breed were established at about that time. The Irish Wolfhound was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1897.