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Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is a medium sized sporting breed that has a hypoallergenic coat. This breed is intelligent, trainable and active.

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Physical Characteristics
  • Largest spaniel
  • Strong build
  • Coat: Solid liver
  • Curly hair with thick undercoat that helps insulate in frigid water
  • Long ears covered with curls
  • Deep, narrow chest and webbed feet help swimming
  • Height: 21-24 inches
  • Weight: 45-65 pounds
  • Average lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Alert, smart, gentle, eager to please, independent, fun-loving
  • Interaction with people: Good with mature children; wary of strangers
  • Interaction with animals: Good with other pets
  • Training: Easily trained, quick learner
  • Bark: Vocal when alerting to visitors
  • Protection: Good guard dog
Medical Conditions
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Megaesophagus (regurgitation disorder)
  • Nail-bed disease
  • Ophthalmic disorders (including entropion and distichiasis)
  • Otitis externa (ear infections)
  • Susceptible to heartworm medications and vaccines
While the listed ailments may be common in this breed, not all members of the breed suffer from these conditions. Responsible breeders screen for orthopedic and genetic diseases.
At Home
  • Prefers rural areas
  • Needs large yard
  • Needs daily exercise
  • Loves the outdoors; enjoys swimming and retrieving
  • Sheds periodically, but hairs get trapped in coat instead of falling off
  • Curly coat needs brushing and combing two to three times a week to avoid mats and cords
  • May require trimming throughout the year
Other Facts
  • Ancestors were Shannon spaniels, rat-tail spaniels or whip-tail spaniels in the late 1100s
  • Often called the "clown" of the spaniel family, possibly due to the peak of curly hair between the eyes
  • Tallest of the spaniels
  • The curly double coat is naturally water-repellent, and protects against thorns, as well as all weather conditions
Breed History
  • Ancient lineage; dates back to 800-900 A.D.
  • Remains of similar dogs excavated in Roman ruins
  • Shown in America and Britain in the late 1800s, when it also was the third most popular sporting dog
  • Known for daring retrieves in frigid water
  • Now a rare breed in the U.S., displaced by the easy-care, short-coated Labrador retriever
For more information about this breed and breeder referral contacts, please visit the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America For breed rescue opportunities, visit IWSCA Rescue
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