The Irish Water Spaniel is part of the Spaniel family.
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, ACR
deep puce, dark brown or liver color
20-24 inches in height
19-23 inches in height
The Irish Water Spaniel is an active large dog that will need plenty of exercise and for this reason alone the best living conditions for this breed will at least require an average size back yard. The best living conditions for an Irish Water Spaniel would not only include a large fenced place to run and play but also somewhere near a clean and safe body of water for swimming. This is a breed that loves to be in the water and living near a body of water or having access to water would be a wonderful benefit for your Irish Water Spaniel. Because the dog's breed is prone to hunting a fenced or enclosed space to run in is the best as they will run off to chase anything that is moving and may trigger their retrieving instinct. The most common and best places for Irish Water Spaniels is in the country or in the suburbs where larger back yards are found, city life is a hard concept for this breed of dogs.
Although the Irish Water Spaniel looks much like a standard Poodle it is not a part of the Poodle family but a part of the Spaniel family. The Irish Water Spaniel is both the largest and the rarest of the spaniel family. They are a puce, dark brown or liver color that has a purple shade to their coats. The Irish Water Spaniel has medium-long curly hair that composes much of the dogs coat. The face and back of the legs of this dog are covered in short straight hair as well as their tail, which is where the alias of rat tail dog comes from. At the top of the head there is a top knot of long curls that covers the Irish Water Spaniels eyes and is there mainly to protect the eyes from the elements of life. The dogs ears are also covered in thick longer curls and adds to the handsome look of this rare breed, however special grooming attention is needed because of this. The Irish Water Spaniel is a solid and stout large dog breed with a large head and deep chest, the hind quarters sit high as well and their feet are webbed to help them with their favorite past time of swimming.
This is a breed with a coat that requires a great amount of grooming however, since the Irish Water Spaniels coat is composed of hair instead of fur it is also a great dog for allergy sufferers. Because the Irish Water Spaniel is covered in hair it needs regular trimming just as a person does. This is a breed that sheds very little hair and also has little dander to set off allergies with.
The coat is made up of a long curly top coat and a warm thick undercoat that keeps the dog warm in cold conditions. The coat needs to be well maintained to keep the dog looking good and without uncomfortable matting. The Irish Water Spaniels coat consists of long curly hair on the top of the tail, neck and body. The hair on the face, back of the lower legs and most of the tail is shorter and smooth. This breed also has a top knot of longer curly hair, as well as on the ears and front of the legs.
The Irish Water Spaniel is a deep puce, dark brown or liver color that is often accompanied with a purple shade. It is a very unique coloring and is one of the only dogs to have a purple shade to it's coat. The coat is a solid color in one of the puce, liver or dark brown shades.
The history of the Irish Water Spaniel is traced back to the mid 1800's when it was discovered as a hunting dog. The Irish Water Spaniel originated in Ireland and is believed to have been derived of ancestry with the Poodle and Irish Setter or other Spaniel breeds found in Northern and Southern Ireland. The Irish Water Spaniel is a breed that has always been prized as an excellent hunting dog with a firm but gentle mouth for retrieving animals for it's hunter, and is mostly used for hunting birds. The Irish Water Spaniel was the most popular hunting dog until the Labrador Retriever replaced it due to the easy grooming of it's short straight haired and water repellent coat. Most often the Irish Water Spaniel was bred as a retriever for water birds and other small hunted game and known for being a daring retriever in the coldest of waters.
The Irish Water Spaniel is an active, intelligent, alert breed of dogs. It is also a very playful, inquisitive and responsive dog that has a good temperament as a pet, watch dog or hunting dog. Their gentle nature can be nurtured through good training to make them great with older children that know how to handle and treat a dog and around other family members. This breed should be socialized as a puppy if it is intended for a family pet as this will make the family life more comfortable for the dog and the people. This is a breed that can seem aggressive around other dogs if not properly introduced and this is another reason for early socialization with the Irish Water Spaniel.
The Irish Water Spaniel breed is often shy and timid around strangers making them great watch dogs and can be easily trained to alert you to any intruder in the home or on the property. They are not an aggressive dog and so they will remain low on the list as an actual guard dog. Other than to alert you to intruders the Irish Water Spaniel is a quite dog that does not bark incessantly and will remain that way from puppy to mature adult. When exercised regularly this breed of dog can be a great pet and companion but with out the right amount of exercise and training they can tend to be a bit hyper due to excess energy that must be burned off through proper exercise and activity.
The Irish Water Spaniel is a breed of dogs that does drool and develops more saliva than other average dog breeds. They can also be disobedient with members of the family that have not established a dominant role and therefore can seem unruly at times, this is a dog that requires a strong leadership role. Although with the right training for both dog and owner this is easily corrected and the Irish Water Spaniel can become a great pet with little obedience problems. Irish Water Spaniels that are not socialized correctly can seem timid, shy or unsure of strangers and other dogs so it is important to socialize them as puppies if you intend to have the dog as a family pet or around other animals.
The Irish Water Spaniel has a few Health concerns that it's owner should be aware of and keep a keen eye out for. The most common of these would be Ear infections as this is common in many swimming dog breeds with longer ears and the Irish Water Spaniel is no exception. Ear infections often occur as a result of the water that does not drain from the ears properly and can pool inside causing an infection. Drying your Irish Water Spaniel's ears throughly after swims may help to prevent some Ear infections, but any sensitivity around the ears should immediately be checked by a veterinarian.
Other Health Problems to be aware of with this breed is Hypothyroidism, seizures, eye Entropion which can all be inherited and you should inquire about any health concerns with the parents of your puppy before adopting or buying him or her. Because the Irish Water Spaniel is a larger breed of dog hip dysplasia is also a common health condition for the dog as it ages and can be uncomfortable for the dog, proper nutrition and health check ups can help to prevent some hip dysplasia.
Because of the Irish Water Spaniels long locks of curls on much of the dog's body there is a good amount of grooming that is needed for this breed of dog. The average for grooming (with a steel dog brush) is once a week to prevent matting and keep the dog comfortable in certain warmer climates. The coat of the Irish Water Spaniel must be attended to regularly to prevent matting and tangles as well as keep the dog looking it's best. Professional trimming is needed around the feet as well as stripping of bothersome hair on other areas of the dogs body. Special attention also needs to be paid to the hair behind the Irish Water Spaniel's ears to be sure it is not matted and painful for the dog, as this is quite common in this breed of dogs. The dogs coat also needs to be professionally trimmed to keep the two thick coats (both top coat and under coat) of hair in healthy condition as well as keeping the dog comfortable to exercise as well as in warmer climates.
The Irish Water Spaniel is a high energy breed of dog that was originally and historically bred as a hunting dog and because of this simple fact exercise is an important and imperative part of the Irish Water Spaniels daily needs. This is a breed that loves to swim, take walks or run for exercise and will be very excited to accompany you on very long walks. Irish Water Dogs also enjoy retrieving many different items and can be trained to fetch or retrieve nearly anything you like. The Irish Water Spaniel will seem to have an endless amount of energy but with good exercise once daily your dog should remain healthy and fit. The amount of exercise you give to your Irish Water Spaniel will reflect in his behavior, by having less energy they will be less destructive to property and much more well behaved in your home. They are most often not off leash dogs as they will chase animals for exercise if given the chance.
The Irish Water Spaniel needs a firm and dominant authority figure for training beginning at an early age of puppy hood. When trained early they will make great dogs for your family, hunting or watch dogs. They are highly intelligent and good problem solvers however obedience can be an issue without the proper authority. Professional training is recommended and the owner needs to be present to become the superior figure in the dogs mind, otherwise this is a breed that will often only listen to whom it recognizes as the most dominant figure in it's day to day life.