The Irish wolfhound is a very versatile dog that performs many tasks besides just being a family pet. They make a very good working dog. From the time the breed was developed, they were bred and trained to work. They originally were trained to be a war dog with the task of pulling men off horsebacks or out of chariots. They then had their training extended to being a guard dog. Years ago, the Irish wolfhound was not the gently loving ball of fur that they are today. This was to the owner's advantage as the dog was used to guard the flocks of animals as well as guard the home and they were dedicated and ferocious in their duties.
At that time, the Irish wolfhound was used more as a working dog than anything else. They had the job of hunting wolves and elk for the men as well as going to war with the Irish nobles. They were a dog that was highly revered by the people for all the capabilities, dedication and loyalty.
Although, the Irish wolfhound of today is not near as aggressive, being more of a family companion, they still are used in many working capacities. Their working ability is more suited to the duties required today. They enjoy their duties of protecting their family, a duty they take very seriously. They may not be a vicious guard dog, but will protect their family with their lives if it ever came to that.
The Irish wolfhound is also used in the capacity as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are dogs that are used to give comfort and affection to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, mental institutions or other stressful situations. The Irish wolfhound works very well in this capacity because in many cases all the person needs is the dog to allow them to hug, hold and pet. The Irish wolfhound thrives on this type of companionship.
Another capacity that the Irish wolfhound fulfills very well is that of companion dog. A companion dog is a dog that stays by the person's side at all times offering them companionship and affection and watching out for harm. They accompany the person (often the owners or their children) wherever they go and are allowed to go.
Even though hunting was the major task of the Irish wolfhound, it has now been replaced by many other duties the Irish wolfhound performs. They still do some hunting for men as a line of work. They are fast, dedicated and have a great sense of smell which can help them track almost anything they set their mind to. In most of their duties, their large size is an asset, often frightening many of the prey or strangers. Little do they know the gentle lamb the Irish wolfhound really is.