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Irish Water Spaniel

Quick facts

Irish Water Spaniel AKC Group: Sporting
Height: Male: 22-24 inches; Female: 21-23 inches
Weight: Male: 55-68 lbs; Female: 45-58 lbs
Colors: Liver
AKC recognized in: 1884

The Irish Water Spaniel originated in Ireland but its real origin is unknown because no breeding records were kept. Only the person who started the breed is known. He is Justin McCarthy from Dublin in the 1830s. He bred the dog from a number of breeds, but which ones continue to be only speculations; among these are the Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog, and the Barbet. The Northern and Southern Water Spaniels and the English Water Spaniel, which no longer exists, are also included in this speculation.

The Irish Water Spaniel has one unique feature that differentiates it from the spaniel and poodle breeds. Its tail resembles the tail of a rat. The "rat tail" of this dog is thick with curls at the base that goes thin at the endpoint with smooth, short hair.

Talking about curly-haired dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel is the only dog with a curly topknot above the head. The liver or puce color of its curly hair sheds very little, leading to it being recommended to allergy sufferers as the ideal dog for them as it is hypoallergenic. Definitely, this dog has the unusual character for loving water and its feet have evolved to being webbed.

On its outer coat, the curls are loose and long, while its undercoat is dense, which functions to protect the dog from the cold water. Even its long ears have loose curls hanging low close to the head while its face has short hair. It has almond-shaped eyes that gaze directly giving an intelligent dog look.


Irish Water Spaniel Summary
Affection five paws
Cold Tolerance four paws
Ease of Training five paws
Energy level five paws
Exercise Requirements five paws
Friendliness : Children four paws
Friendliness: Other Animals four paws
Friendliness: Other Pets four paws
Grooming Requirements one paw
Heat Tolerance four paws
Playfulness four paws
Protection Ability three paws
Watchdog Ability four paws

This dog is a hard working dog that loves to swim in water like the sturdy retrievers. It has an active nature and, therefore, it has needs for a large space for exercise and developing its skills. A good trainer is what it needs so that it can be a sociable dog and also a loyal pet. When properly trained, the Irish Water Spaniel is a gentle dog to children and affectionate. It has a comical trait that earns it a reputation of being clownish.

Generally, though, this dog is quiet and will only bark whenever it is necessary to warn the family when it is on a watch. It has a fierce and intimidating bark.

It can display a dominating behavior when it senses that its master has loosened grip on authority. It is never aggressive or timid though. But, it may refuse to follow commands when it feels there is no leadership at home. This dog is not recommended for first time dog owners for this reason.

Health and Exercise

The Irish Water Spaniel has a life span of between 10 and 12 years.

While the Irish Water Spaniel is generally a healthy dog, they are susceptable to certain health problems including:

  • Hip Dysplasia - Where the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the hip joint. This can lead to severe lameness or arthritis. A dog diagnosed with hip dysplasia should never be bred, as this is an inherited condition.
  • Hypothyroidism - A disorder of the thyroid that can result in obesity, lethargy, or epilepsy.
  • Eye problems, including cataracts, entroprion (eyelids that roll inwards), and distichiasis (an extra set of eyelashes that irritates the eye).
  • Epilepsy - A disorder that can cause either mild or severe seizures. This can be hereditary, but may also have other causes including its environment, exposure to poisons, or head injuries.
  • Sensitivity to vaccinations and medications - While not normally fatal, you need to watch your dog for a few hours following a veterinary appointment where vaccinations or medication was administered, looking for signs, including hives, lethargy, tremors, seizures, and more, and call your vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

This is a hunting breed, and as such needs a yard to play in to deal with the pent up energy and stamina. It is not recommended as an apartment dweller, unless given plenty of outdoor exercise, including swimming, running, hiking, and ball play.

While Irish Water Spaniels are not much for shedding, they still must be brushed out two or three times a week to prevent matting and to keep its coat clean and healthy.

As much as they like to swim, they are prone to ear infections, so make sure you wipe out her ears following any swimming excursion. Use a cotton ball soaked with a cleaning solution, and gently rub only that part of the ear you can see... do not probe or you could cause damage!

Visitor Comments

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