Irish Water Spaniel

Overview of Irish Water Spaniels

  • Irish Water Spaniel, Afghan Hound, Skye Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Bedlington, Portuguese Water Dog, Lhasa Apso, Lowchen, Tibetan Terrier, Bichon Frise, Poodle, Chinese Crested – powderpuff, Havanese, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Old English Sheepdog.
  • Irish Water Spaniels do not shed loose hair and can therefore be recommended for people who may suffer from allergies.Please take noteAlthough this breed is easy to train, and is very quick to find out, it can become easily bored so avoid overtraining.
  • Irish Water Spaniels may have a reserved or wary nature with strangers, which indicates they may have a low level fear or concern about them that can be aided with socialization to minimize the development of fear-based defensive aggression.
  • Irish Water Spaniels have short hair and rarely shed, but they should be brushed at least once a week to keep their curly coat from tangling or matting, as well as to keep it clean and healthy.
  • Irish Water Spaniel temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books
  • Irish Water Spaniels take the cake for the tallest of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) spaniels, coming in at 21 to 24 inches, straddling the line between medium and large dogs.
  • Irish Water Spaniel America on Instagram: “Finn – Loved by Claire Coulter #IrishWaterSpaniel #Dogs #DogsOfInstagram #SportingDogs #RoadToWKC @DogCelebration @PhilosophyOfDog…”
  • Irish Water Spaniels get on swimmingly with kids with whom they’re raised, though they are ideally matched with older kids who can hold their own when play gets boisterous.
  • The Irish Water Spaniel is a dog of very ancient lineage, and there is evidence of Irish Water Spaniel-type remains going back as far as the 7th and 8th centuries AD.
  • Irish Water Spaniels love all activities and have taken part in a range of canine sports including Agility, Flyball and most recently Dock Diving.
  • Allergies

    The Irish Water Spaniels is a low shedding breed with a hypoallergenic coat, which means they are generally considered more suitable for those with pet allergies than most dogs.Their curly, waterproof double coat isn’t the easiest to maintain though, so regular brushing is needed.


    In 1875 it was one of the most popular sporting dogs in Britain and America, but today is much rarer.Irish Water Spaniels became popular in Britain for their ability to retrieve game from frigid waters.The breed was introduced to North America during Boatswain’s time, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1878.The Irish Water Spaniel has ancient roots, and may very well be the largest and oldest of all Spaniel breeds.The modern version of the Irish Water Spaniel originated in Ireland in the 1830’s, the founding father of the breed was a dog born in Dublin in 1834 named “Boatswain.” While the exact lineage of the Irish Water Spaniel is unknown, it is possible that they share common ancestry with the Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog and the Barbet.


    Because white blood cells can be found throughout the body, this cancer can show up almost anywhere.Luckily, lymphoma is one of the few types of cancer that can often be found with a blood test, so we may recommend a complete blood count twice yearly.Lymphoma is a very treatable form of cancer, with an excellent success rate in dogs receiving chemotherapy.Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma is a type of cancer that afflicts Irish Water Spaniels more than other breeds.This disease makes the body form abnormal lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.Treatment can be costly, however, and is a lifelong commitment.Watch for swollen glands (ask us, we’ll show you where to look), weight loss, or labored breathing at home and be sure to call us if you notice any unusual symptoms.


    Clean and dry the ears every time your IWS goes swimming.In other words, those floppy ears hold in moisture, and the wet, warm environment is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.Irish Water Spaniels shed little to no hair, but they must be brushed two or three times a week to keep the coat from tangling or matting, as well as to keep it clean and healthy.Regular brushing not only distributes the oil throughout the coat to keep the skin healthy but also removes the dirt and debris.The breed can be prone to ear infections due to the pendant earflap.The oil in the coat attracts debris and dirt.


    A hunting breed with a great deal of energy and stamina, the Irish Water Spaniel needs a yard to romp in and isn’t suited to apartment life.As with any dog, don’t run him ragged in the heat of the day.Give him at least an hour a day of running, long walks or hikes, or vigorous play such as retrieving a ball in the yard.If you have a pool or access to a lake, swimming is a great way for him to get exercise.Keep an eye on him just as you would a child, and be sure he knows how to get out of the pool safely.You can break up his activity into two or three 20- or 30-minute sessions throughout the day.

    Genetic Predispositions

    At the end of the booklet, we have also included a description of what you can do at home to keep your IWS looking and feeling her best.This guide contains general health information important to all canines as well as the most important genetic predispositions for Irish Water Spaniels.This information helps you and us together plan for your pet’s unique medical needs.You will know what to watch for, and we will all feel better knowing that we’re taking the best possible care of your pal.


    Everything you want to know about Irish Water Spaniel, including grooming, training, health problems, history, adoption, finding a good breeder, and more.


    You can minimize serious health concerns in your Irish Water Spaniel by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.


    Irish Water Spaniels are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper.Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, her age, and other factors.

    Life expectancy


    Activity Level
    The Irish Water Spaniel is highly energetic and active, most definitely not a dog for couch potatoes. 

    The Irish Water Spaniel is energetic and fun-loving. 

    Like all dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel also needs basic grooming. 
     As part of their training, Irish Water Spaniels should also have plenty of early socialization.Before that time, their bones and joints are too delicate to withstand vigorous activity.Brush their teeth, clean their ears and trim their nails on a regular basis.For puppies, a daily walk and regular, supervised playtime are enough to meet their exercise needs.Grooming Needs
    The Irish Water Spaniel has a low-shedding, liver-colored double coat.However, any hard exercise must wait until the Irish Water Spaniel has reached 18 months of age.In the 1830s, a sportsman named Justin McCarthy took it upon himself to refine the breed and develop one, distinct type.Irish Water Spaniel   

    The Irish Water Spaniel has a life expectancy of 10 to 13 years.Irish Water Spaniels are friendly, but tend to take time to warm up to new people and situations.Irish Water Spaniels tend to be reserved with strangers and make good watchdogs.Once trained in the basics, Irish Water Spaniels can go on to participate in agility, obedience and tracking.One of his dogs, named Boatswain, is credited as the foundation for all modern Irish Water Spaniels.Origin
    The Irish Water Spaniel emerged in southern Ireland in the late 1100s as a cross of the South Country Water Spaniel and the North Country Water Spaniel.Over time, numerous versions of the Irish Water Spaniel were created.Size
    The Irish Water Spaniel weighs 45 to 65 pounds and measures 21 to 24 inches.Temperament
    The Irish Water Spaniel has lots of enthusiasm for work and play.The Irish Water Spaniel is a determined hunter in the water and a devoted companion in the home.The Irish Water Spaniel loves to be with their family and included in all of their activities.The Irish Water Spaniel should be brushed every few weeks, bathed occasionally and trimmed every two months.The Irish Water Spaniel thrives on regular activity in the form of long walks, swims, hikes or games of fetch.The Irish Water Spaniel was developed to be a hunting dog, used extensively for flushing and retrieving waterfowl.The Irish Water Spaniel will not respond to a handler that is too soft or passive.The Irish Water Spaniel’s body is covered by thick, crisp curls while their top knot is accented by long, loose curls.They are highly intelligent and tend to bore easily, and do best with short, varied sessions.They can be shy and timid around new people as well as aggressive with other dogs if not well socialized.They have a charming, clownish demeanor and maintain a puppy mentality longer than some other breeds.They notice everything around them and are protective of their loved ones.Training Needs
    The Irish Water Spaniel is eager to please and fairly easy to train as long as they have a firm, consistent leader.


    Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk.It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease.Obesity can be a significant health problem in Irish Water Spaniels.She’ll feel better, and so will you!Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when she looks at you with those soulful eyes, you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie treats.


    As with other spaniel breeds, the Irish Water Spaniel is used in hunting, taking advantage of its swimming and retrieving abilities.Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent, energetic, and alert dogs.


    Just as it is with most other spaniel breeds, the Irish Water Spaniel has an alert and inquisitive temperament.They may, however, tend to be reserved around strangers, which is unlike many other spaniels.


    Like all spaniel dogs, they need socialization and training from puppyhood.They are not the best choice if you have a nine-to-five job as it’s hard for them to stay alone for a longer period of time.For this reason, crate training for Irish Water Spaniel puppies is crucial.This breed requires a lot of exercise.

    Is the Irish Water Spaniel Easy to Train?

    Yes! The Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent dogs, so they are easy to train and eager to learn.Crate training them when they are puppies can help reduce the risk of separation anxiety developing.This is important if you need to leave them alone for any length of time.

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    Are Irish Water Spaniels Good with Kids?

    As long as the Irish Water Spaniel has been raised around kids, there should be no issues with both of them living under the same roof together in harmony.That’s why it’s important to socialize your dog with different experiences and people early on during the training process.

    Is the Irish Water Spaniel a Good Apartment Dog?

    Not really! The Irish Water Spaniel loves the outdoors.These dogs will be happier if they have a large fenced yard to roam around freely.

    Did You Know That There Are Food To Help Your Dogs Gain Weight?

    Underweight and undernourishment is as real an issue as obesity among dogs.

    How is the Irish Water Spaniel with children and other animals?

    Irish Water Spaniels are great with children.It can be affectionate and loving and also playful and energetic.It is best to make sure it is well socialized and it also helps when dogs are raised with the children.Supervision is a good idea with younger children to prevent tail or ear pulling.Also always teach children how to touch dogs and approach them.With other dogs of the same sex there can be aggression with the dominance issue.With other pets it can vary from one IWS to another.Some will chase small animals like cats, some when raised with them and socialized can learn to get along with them.(Though they will still chase strange small animals outside).If you keep birds though this is probably not he best breed to bring home, with its history of bird hunting.

    Are Irish Water Spaniels Hypoallergenic?

    Yes they are!.They are good for people who have dog allergies.

    What is the IWS Like to Groom?

    Grooming your IWS is going to take more effort than most breeds, especially those with short coats like the German Shorthaired Pointer or Greyhound for example.

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    Why Should I Have My Irish Water Spaniel Spayed or Neutered?

    There are many reasons why you should have your Irish Water Spaniel spayed or neutered, not least of all because it will likely improve their quality of life (and stop you from worrying about a litter of puppies).

    How Much Do Irish Water Spaniels Shed?

    Irish Water Spaniels are a low shedding breed.

    How big Is the Irish Water Spaniel?

    The Irish Water Spaniel size is between that of a medium and large dog.Males are 21-23 inches (50-56 cm) tall and weigh between 55 and 65 pounds.Females stand at 20-22 inches (50-56 cm) height and weigh 45 to 58 pounds.

    How Much Does an Irish Water Spaniel Cost?

    Expensive! The Irish Water Spaniel averages $1,800 – $3000 per puppy.

    Do Irish Water Spaniels Shed?

    The Irish Water Spaniel shedding properties are minimal.They are hypoallergenic dogs that seldom drool and produce little dander.

    Is your dog a Irish Water Spaniel?

    You can use our Dog Scanner app to find out whether your dog is a Irish Water Spaniel.

    How active is the Irish Water Spaniel?

    The Irish Water Spaniel is a fairly active breed so will need owners committed to being active on a daily basis themselves.It can adapt to an apartment but does better in a home with at least a small to average sized yard, if not larger.As well as taking it for a couple of good walks a day it will also need time off leash to run free, play time with you and mental stimulation too.It enjoys and is good at swimming, you could also take it to a dog park a few times a week, and it can join you for a jog or hike.It needs a least an hour a day of vigorous physical activity.Make sure the yard is well fenced in.

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    Is the Irish Water Spaniel Good with Children?

    Yes! Irish Water Spaniels love kids.They are cheerful and love to play with children and other dogs.

    Is the Irish Water Spaniel Smart?

    Yes! The Irish Water Spaniel is an intelligent breed.These dogs are also highly active and quick to learn new routines.

    What will training look like?

    The IWS is easy to train for owners who are can remain firm and in control.It is eager to please, smart and listens to commands, so in fact it can learn more quickly and needs less repetition.It can have a willful side though so sometimes things can be a little inconsistent as it can be manipulative and some are more dominant than others.It needs a positive approach, using treats and praise to keep it focused and happy.It also helps to keep things interesting by keeping sessions short and mixing things up.When it thinks things are a game or a puzzle to solve it will be a lot more willing.Be consistent, never meek and when you set rules stick to them.

    Have any questions about health in your breed?

    If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed.They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

    What Makes an Irish Water Spaniel Unique?

    The Irish Water Spaniel is a member of the AKC's 'Sporting Group' with a temperament that is often described as playful, hardworking and brave.The Irish Water Spaniel has a demeanor best described as 'Somewhat Reserved'.When it comes to grooming needs, the Irish Water Spaniel requires a weekly good brushing and sheds infrequently.In regards to training, you can expect the Irish Water Spaniel to be obedient with very a decent level of excitement or energy.The Irish Water Spaniel can be expected to live 12 to 13 years if they receive proper excercise and an Irish Water Spaniel dog food diet that keeps their weight between 55-68 pounds (male), 45-58 pounds (female).The Irish Water Spaniel is generally considered tall with a height of between 22 inches and 24 inches for males and 21 inches and 23 inches for females.

    Looking for a puppy?

    Looking for a Spaniel (Irish Water)? Explore our list of puppies and rescue dogs for sale near you.

    When Should I Spay or Neuter My Irish Water Spaniel?

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    Carbohydrates.You should never ever overfeed your dogs too much carbs as they get stored as fat in the body if they are not used.

    When Should I Have My Irish Water Spaniel Spayed or Neutered?

    Whilst recommendations vary, vets typically suggest that you should have your Irish Water Spaniel spayed or neutered between the ages of four and nine months.There are various reasons for such a broad timeframe, although some vets suggest that timing can have positive effects on your Irish Water Spaniel’s behaviour, dependent on their sex.

    History of Irish Water Spaniels

  • In 1598 it is thought Sir Robert Cecil sent one to the King of France, and the breed is described in Topsell’s book from 1607, ‘History of the Foure-Footed Beastes’.
  • in 1870, they became the nation’s third most popular sporting breed and for many years thereafter held that position reaching the height of their popularity in the period between World Wars I and II.
  • In 1875 it was one of the most popular sporting dogs in Britain and America, but today is much rarer.
  • In 1875 it was the 3rd most popular sporting dog in the US.
  • In 1875 the breed was one of America’s most popular sporting dogs and was most often used for duck hunting but his popularity has been replaced by the Labrador Retriever and the Irish water spaniel is now considered an uncommon and rare breed.
  • In 1878, the Irish water spaniel was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the sporting group.
  • In 1879, one was even entered at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in America.
  • In 1879, the breed was advertised as a Wire-haired Pinscher.
  • In 1890 the Irish Water Spaniel Club was started.
  • In 1908 this breed was introduced from Alaska when they were used in dog sled races, which they excelled at.
  • In 1925, there was a diphtheria epidemic and the same man drove one of the teams of Siberian Husky to Nome, Alaska to bring serum.
  • In 1937 the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America was formed but while the dog is still popular with show fanciers, bird hunters and some families it is rare in the US, though continues to do well in its home country.
  • In the 1800s the Irish Water Spaniel was popular in the United States as a duck hunting dog.
  • In the 1830s, a sportsman named Justin McCarthy took it upon himself to refine the breed and develop one, distinct type.
  • In the 1930s, technological advancements in fishing nearly caused the extinction of Portuguese Water Dogs.
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