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Irish Water Spaniel

The general appearance of Irish Water Spaniel suggests both dash and endurance. He is enthusiastic, mischievous and independent.

Overall Status

Height 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder
Temperament Playful, Hardworking, Brave
Weight 45 to 68 pounds
Life Expectancy 12 to 15 years
Coat Color Brown
Barking Level When Necessery

Quick Factors

Dog Friendly
Exercise Need
Grooming Needs
Strangers Friendly
Family Affectionate
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Daily Care

Grooming Tips

The Irish Water Spaniel’s dense, tightly curled double coat is short and thick next to the skin, for warmth, and topped with a long outer coat for extra protection. The coat sheds slightly, but it doesn’t cling to the fabric of furniture and clothing quite as much as other types of hair.

Comb the coat one to three times a week, as needed. Be sure you comb all the way down to the skin to remove any mats or tangles. Use a slicker brush to remove dead hair. For a neat look, the coat must be scissored every six to eight weeks, including trimming the fur around the foot pads.

Any time your IWS goes in a pool, lake or ocean, give him a thorough freshwater rinse to remove chlorine, algae, and salt, all of which can dry and damage the coat. He doesn’t need frequent baths, which could dry out his protective oily coat, but getting wet helps to ensure that the coat has those pretty ringlets that give the IWS his distinctive look.

The rest is basic care. Keep the ears clean and dry, especially if your IWS goes swimming a lot. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.

Exercise Tips

Irish Water Spaniels are bundles of energy and quite athletic by genetics. They thrive when they are able to run, play, chase down game and retrieve fowl. They are not at all happy leading sedentary lives and can become destructive without regular activities that will enthrall and exert them.

They require at least an hour of playtime daily in order to keep them in tiptop shape. Of course, they love water so if you sit in your yard and have a hard plastic wading pool, they will happily retrieve dummies for hours. This is what makes Irish Water Spaniels awesome companions for families with sturdy kids.

Feeding Tips

It is essential that all owners of Irish Water Spaniels understand that these are high energy dogs. Therefore, they need to be fed a high-quality diet specifically manufactured for active and athletic dogs.

Dry kibble is recommended to prevent early tooth decay and gum disease. Feeding a diet of dry food also cuts down on doggie breath caused by plaque built up on the teeth.

Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Health Tips

The average life span of the Irish Water Spaniel is between 10 and 13 years. Breed health concerns may includeear infections, elbow dysplasia,hip dysplasia, follicular dysplasia, epilepsy,cataracts,entropion, distichiasis, megaesophagus andhypothyroidism.Irish Water Spaniels can have adverse, life-threatening reactions to Ivermectin and Sulfa drugs.


You’ll find that the Irish Water Spaniel is a trainable breed of dog. He has an insatiable desire to please his people; this makes him a likely candidate for many show events including hunting trials and obedience trials. It also makes him a wonderful companion for an active family.

It is important that obedience training is started at an early age. This breed can become mischievous so regular training sessions can be beneficial.

One of the best things about this breed is that the Irish Water Spaniels are not barkers. They will only bark to alert their family that strangers or intruders are about. Few are mouthy so long as they are provided with adequate toys during the teething stages.


The exact country of origin for the breed is not clear, but the country from which the most recent foundation stock came is Ireland. Some research indicates that common ancestors include thePoodle,BarbetandPortuguese Water Dog.

Recent history has the breed taking its present form in the 1830s. Its development is credited to Justin McCarthy and his "Boatswain" dog. The breed's purpose is that of a waterfowl hunter; his strong swimming ability enables him to be physically qualified for the task. He is a quality retriever in any cover and is used for a variety of games.

The breed has retained type for over 150 years, and is very popular in Ireland. The Irish Water Spaniel was recognized by the AKC in 1884.

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