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Irish Water Spaniels are gentle dogs with
a fun-loving personality. There's no question
the breed has a unique appearance - they have
solid liver coat full of crisp, tight curls,
a loose and curly topknot and a smooth face.
They also have a characteristic "rat-like"
smooth tail which contrasts greatly with the
rest of the coat.
Irish Water Spaniel's lineage can be traced
back to Southern Ireland in the 1100s, although
it has been suggested ancestors of the breed
dates back to the seventh or eight century.
There are several theories regarding which
breeds contributed to the Irish Water Spaniel.
One claims the Poodle contributed, and another
states there's a mix of South Country Water
Spaniels and North Country Water Spaniels.
What we do know is that today's Irish Water
Spaniel is from the 1930s and credited to
Justin McCarthy from Dublin, although it's
unfortunate he did not leave any breeding
records. His very own Irish Water Spaniel
named Boatswain is recognized as being the
first pure-bred which undoubtedly made him
the most well known dog of the breed.
Irish Water Spaniels were brought to the United
States in the 1870s and within a few years
became the third most popular sporting dog.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Irish
Water Spaniel breed in 1884.
Irish Water Spaniels are amazing swimmers
and natural working retrievers. Their thick,
double coat adds protection even in the harshest
of cold waters. They have an incredible amount
of stamina, they're quick, alert, inquisitive,
very intelligent and easy to train. The Irish
Water Spaniel is a very devoted breed - eager
to please and will protect making them also
an excellent watchdog.
The height for an Irish Water Spaniel is between
21 - 23 inches (53-59cm) for dogs and 20 -
22 inches (51-56cm) for bitches.
Weight: The weight for an
Irish Water Spaniel is between 45-65 pounds
Coat Type: The Irish Water
Spaniel has a dense, tight double coat with
crispy curls. The undercoat is thick and soft
which helps keep the Irish Water Spaniel warm
and the longer outer coat is water repellant
and adds more protection. The hair on the
face, throat, tail, front and rear legs below
the hocks is smooth. Irish Water Spaniels
are light shedders. Regular grooming is necessary
to help avoid matting.
The color of the Irish Water
Spaniel's coat is solid liver.
Temperament: Irish Water Spaniels
are active, very alert and have great stamina.
They're devoted, eager to please, very loving
and make a wonderful family pet. Irish Water
Spaniels are reserved with strangers and bark
only when necessary making them an excellent
watchdog. Both early socialization and training
are important. The Irish Water Spaniel is
intelligent and has the ability to learn very
quickly as well as retain a lot of information.
Irish Water Spaniels require daily exercise
such as long walks, running and jogging. They
also enjoy retrieving and swimming.
Problems: Health concerns
that may affect an Irish Water Spaniel include
hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, entropion,
seizures, cancer, ear infections, skin and
coat problems. Life expectancy of a Irish
Water Spaniel is 10 - 12 years.
• Irish Water Spaniels
have webbed feet making them excellent swimmers.
• Irish Water Spaniels are better suited
to live with a family rather than just one
• Irish Water Spaniels were
the third most popular sporting dog in the
United States by 1875.
Water Spaniels were also known as Shannon
Spaniels, Rat-Tail Spaniels or Whip-Tail Spaniels
during the late 1100s.
Water Spaniels are known as "the clown
of the spaniel family" because of their
humorous personality and creative and entertaining
• The American Kennel Club
recognized the Irish Water Spaniel breed in
AKC: Sporting Group
ANKC: Group 3 - Gundogs
CKC: Group 1 - Sporting Dogs
FCI: Group 8 Section 3: Water Dogs
UKC: Gun Dogs