The Irish Water Spaniel’s lineage can be traced back to Southern Ireland in the 1100’s, 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.
Height: 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 (20-30kg).
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 repellent 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.
Color: 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.
Health 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 person.
• Irish Water Spaniels were the third most popular sporting dog in the United States by 1875.
• Irish Water Spaniels were also known as Shannon Spaniels, Rat-Tail Spaniels or Whip-Tail Spaniels during the late 1100s.
• Irish Water Spaniels are known as “the clown of the spaniel family” because of their humorous personality and creative and entertaining ways.
• The American Kennel Club recognized the Irish Water Spaniel breed in 1884.
AKC: Sporting Group
ANKC: Group 3 – Gundogs
CKC: Group 1 – Sporting Dogs
FCI: Group 8 Section 3: Water Dogs
UKC: Gun Dogs