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Irish Water Spaniel


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The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest and most distinctive spaniels. Dogs resembling them are depicted in manuscripts from 1,000 years ago. Continued references to this dog can be found from 1600 on. Around that time, the King of France is said to have been presented with one of them. Whether the breed was at one time found in different varieties or whether several similar breeds were its forebears is a matter of conjecture. What is agreed upon is that several similar spaniels existed in Ireland. The breed entered the show ring in both Britain and America by the late 1800s. In 1875, it was the third-most popular sporting dog. Despite its enchantingly clownish appearance and adept water-retrieving ability, the Irish Water Spaniel lost popularity and is only rarely seen in the show ring or found as the family pet.



The Irish Water Spaniel is intelligent, easy to train, and possesses a desire to please. They are known to be eager, bold and confident, but at the same time stubborn and independent.  They are however capable of learning a great deal and becoming loving family dogs or one person dogs. Usually easy-going and gentle they can have a mind of their own being mischievous and fun-loving but devoted.  Some make good guard dogs and generally do well with other pets if properly introduced. They can be reserved and protective with strangers and should be well-socialized as a puppy and do best with older considerate children. A quiet dog, barking only when necessary to warn the family but is prone to the occasional drool and slobber.  Being an excellent swimmer, they have considerable stamina and drive, and a very good nose.



Height:   51-58cm (20-23in)

Weight:  55-65lbs (25-30 kg

The largest of the spaniels, the Irish Water Spaniel has a solid brown, crisp-textured dense curly coat. Both the face and tail have short hair as contrasted with the long curls of the body. It has a rather large head with an arched skull. The curly outer coat is lined with a dense undercoat, which helps insulate the dog in even the coldest water. A top-knot of curls on the head hangs down to cover and protect the eyes. The muzzle is long, square and powerful. The long ears are covered with curls. The chest is deep, but rather narrow for free movement when swimming. The hind quarters are as high as or slightly higher than the shoulders. The front legs are straight and well boned. Webbed feet assist in swimming.



A lot of care in grooming is needed, as the coat can tend to mat. Skilled trimming of the coat is necessary. The coat is usually good for allergy sufferers since it has little dandruff. These dogs shed little to no hair.  If you don't have the time to bath or groom your dog, your local  dog grooming parlour provides these services.


Life Expectancy

10-12 Years


Health Concerns

Prone to hypo-thyroidism and eye entropion. Be sure the parents are checked for thyroid problems. Avoid timid puppies. They may drool and have ear infections.



The Irish Water Spaniel loves being inside. Not considered a townhouse dog because of their size they are easily able to be housetrained to become very well mannered and will especially love lazing around. They are not recommended for families with toddlers, very small children or inactive people and can be kept in a backyard but will require at least 30 minutes per day of exercise.  They also enjoy swimming and will take to obedience and agility training if introduced to it early.


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Gundogs; dogs in this group were all bred to assist in hunting and retrieving game. A few in this group include Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever to mention a few.


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