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Irish Water Spaniel
Intelligent, Vigorous And Fun-Loving!

irish water spaniel

Background and Description

The Irish Water Spaniel, is thought to have originated from water dogs that existed in ancient Persia. In fact, Persian manuscripts from 4000 BC, point to the existence of water spaniels in Ireland around that time period.

With such ancient roots, it is understandable that the exact lineage of the breed is not clear, but it has been speculated that poodles and various spaniels may have contributed to its evolution. This seems to be born out by its physical appearance.

The main job of this active spaniel is to retrieve birds over water, but he also has the ability plus the zeal to retrieve game over land.

The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the water spaniels. He is a very solid-looking, tall dog with long ears, an alert expression and a curly coat similar to that of a Poodle. His feet are webbed which assists him with swimming.

Personality and Traits:

The Irish Water Spaniel is a cheerful dog - very smart, good-natured, loyal and easy-going. Many owners enjoy being entertained by his fun-loving and clownish antics. He is not known to be a barker, but has protective instincts around strangers.

With a high degree of intelligence, the Irish Water Spaniel trains easily and wants to please, though he can be a bit stubborn. Firm, yet fair leadership is called for with this breed, along with early socialization.

Using his strong retriever instincts in training sessions and to fetch things around the house, will be met with an enthusiastic response!

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Appearance, Coat And Care

irish water spaniel owner guide irish water spaniel breed guideHeight: 21-24 inches
Weight: 45-65 pounds
Color variations: Solid liver, with a purplish tint

The weather resistant double coat is dense, tight and consists of crisp ringlets over the body, sides, neck and slightly down the tail. The legs are also covered by a mass of longer curls or waves. The coat has an oily texture and needs to have significant grooming to prevent matting.

Hair cuts are best left to a professional groomer, though you can learn to do this yourself, if so inspired, as the IWS is said to be very tolerant of getting his hair done! Shedding is minimal, putting this dog on the list of those more suitable for owners with allergies.

Activity Level:

The Irish Water Spaniel is an exercise machine, with great stamina and needs a lot of physical activity. Since he is a superb swimmers and obviously loves to retrieve, water activities will be eagerly and enthusiastically welcomed as part of his routine.

Vigorous daily walks are expected. Ideal for an active family and if there is a jogger around, he will happily be a running companion.

Space Needs:

The IWS is well suited to rural residences where he can romp and run freely, or suburban homes with an adequate fenced yard.

This not only gives the dog another outlet for his high energy, but also benefits owners to have space available where their pet can happily wait for his walk.


The Irish Water Spaniel is a fun companion and has a good reputation with children. However, because of his size and high energy, we suggest he is better suited to a family with older children.

The usual caution remains that interaction between dogs and children should always be supervised by an adult.


Although affectionate, protective and loyal, the high necessity for exercise, would most often make the IWS not the best choice for the elderly or sedentary.

Share Your Knowledge and Pictures

Do you have a Irish Water Spaniel? If you do, then you know a lot about what it's like to live with this energetic and handsome dog breed.

We would love for you to share your dog's pictures and his story as well as your knowledge about the breed in general.

You can upload photos and tell your dog's story here. For inspiration, read some of the stories already submitted by other dog lovers.

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Book Recommendations:

A dog as 'highly' active as the Irish Water Spaniel will thrive and be more able to ward off disease with sound nutrition. He will also thank you for more tasty mealtimes!

Healthy Dog Food Recipe Book

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Nutritious Recipes For Dogs

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