If you are contemplating getting an Irish wolfhound for a family pet, you couldn't be getting a friendlier, more loyal or loving animal. They make great family dogs that are great with children. They are gentle and quiet, sometimes even on the shy side. It is advisable to remember that they can be quite fierce when they are provoked. Provocation to them would be someone threatening their family. They do not make good guard dogs as a rule, however, because they are much too friendly and loving. Their large size may scare away strangers, though.
Speaking of size, they are recorded as the largest dog in the world (tallest) and need lots of room. If you don't have a large home or yard for them to freely move around, they may not be the right dog for you. They are perfectly content to be stretched out on the couch relaxing next to you. The couch had better be big for them to stretch out, however. Don't forget about Gibson, the largest dog in the world who was 7 feet long!
They don't fully mature until they are two years old, so you can expect a lot of the puppy playfulness for longer than many other breeds. They love children and are very good with them, but shouldn't be around young children at first. The reason is that with their size so large, they can easily hurt a young child just trying to play with them. When they stand on their hind legs, they can put their paws on their owner easily. Just imagine if they tried to "hug" a young child!
The Irish Wolfhound is not a an overly active dog, but they do enjoy and need regular exercise and survive best when they have a large fenced in yard to run around on the days you can't take them for the walks they love so much. They are tall enough to easily jump over a six-foot fence so keep this in mind when having your yard fenced.
The Irish wolfhound needs to be socialized around any other animals you may have, as they tend to get aggressive towards other animals. They are a very intelligent breed of dog and learn very quickly. They do tend to be stubborn at times and pretend to not catch on, but they are smart and very easy to train. They do respond best to positive reinforcement. They love praise and respond very well to it in their training and discipline.
Although this dog is very gentle and loving with the family, they tend to be shy with strangers at first. Once they trust the strangers, they respond very warmly to them. In spite of their loving nature, you need to remember that they can very easily be over 100 pounds when they are fully grown and will need a lot of room.