Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water spaniel

This water-loving dog was bred to retrieve waterfowl for Irish hunters in the 1830s. They are alert and curious and make a wonderful outdoor companion. Find out what caring for an Irish Water Spaniel entails, including health problems to watch for with this breed.

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Irish Water Spaniel Breed Characteristics

This eager and hardworking water-lover is very affectionate despite his history as a working dog. Irish Water Spaniels reach a shoulder height of 24 inches and a solid weight of up to 68 pounds (58 pounds for females). They have a life expectancy similar to that of other medium-sized breeds, at 12 to 13 years.


The short hair Irish Water Spaniel’s attractive curly coat protects the dog while swimming, and the distinctive smooth tail also helps in the water, by acting as a rudder. But the coat needs weekly grooming to ensure that it stays healthy. This breed should be trimmed every two months to neaten and shape it. You’ll need to find a groomer who’s familiar with the breed to scissor your dog’s coat properly.

Find detailed grooming advice at the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America’s website (listed below). 


When it comes to Irish Water Spaniel training, they’re very playful and eager to please, which makes them highly trainable. They tend to be a bit more reserved when meeting new people compared to most other spaniels. 

Irish Water Spaniel Standard

 The official breed standard for the Irish Water Spaniel describes the dog’s general appearance as …

“That of a smart, upstanding, strongly built moderate gun dog bred for all types of shooting, especially for water-fowling. Great intelligence is combined with rugged endurance and a bold, dashing eagerness of temperament. Distinguishing characteristics are a topknot of long, loose curls and a body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth “rat” tail.” 

The curly coat with smooth face and rat tail is what distinguishes the short hair Irish Water Spaniel. These striking dogs have a topknot of long, loose curls that fall over the top of the long ears and face. The breed has wide hips and powerful hindquarters that aid in swimming. The coat is liver-colored, sometimes with a purplish tinge.

Read the full official breed standard for the Irish Water Spaniel

Best Lifestyle For Irish Water Spaniels

The name says it all. Irish Water Spaniels love to be in or around water! This brave and playful companion will be happiest if you have easy access to a river, pond, lake, or other place to swim regularly. 

Irish Water Spaniels need vigorous and frequent exercise, so you should enjoy spending time being active outdoors if you’re considering this dog.

The Irish Water Spaniel’s coat makes it a popular addition to households whose family members have allergies and want a hypoallergenic breed. 

They are very smart dogs who are eager to please, so they thrive when being taught new tasks to do and problems to solve. Although they are very affectionate, they may not be best suited for homes with very young children as they can be rambunctious. 

Irish Water Spaniel Health Problems

Here are some health issues to look out for if you’re considering adding an Irish Water Spaniel to your family.

Frequent Ear Infections

Irish Water Spaniels love getting wet, which increases the risk of ear infections. Whining, shaking the head, and scratching are signs that your Irish Water Spaniel may have an ear infection.  

Ear infections are not generally dangerous. But in severe cases, or if neglected, they can lead to hearing loss or other problems. These include compromised balance, walking in circles or drooping eyelids or mouth. If you see these more serious symptoms, you should see your vet.

Mild ear infections are easy to treat with home remedies. 

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Dental Disease

Irish Water Spaniels are more likely than most dogs to develop problems with their teeth. This makes it important to prevent tartar build-up so that it never progresses to infection of the gums and teeth.

Luckily, there are plenty of natural ways to help prevent and treat dental disease in dogs. Start by feeding probiotics that help create a healthy bacterial environment in your Irish Water Spaniel’s mouth. 

How To Find Irish Water Spaniel Puppies

Here’s where to start your search for a new Irish Water Spaniel family member.

Irish Water Spaniel Parent Breed Clubs

The most reputable place to find purebred Irish Water Spaniel puppies is via the parent breed club in your country. Here are some places to look:

In the US: Irish Water Spaniel Club of America

In Canada: The Irish Water Spaniel Association of Canada

In the UK: Irish Water Spaniel Association UK

Adopt or Foster an Irish Water Spaniel 

You can find Irish Water Spaniels looking for new or temporary homes through the rescue group within the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America.

Now that you know more about the Irish Water Spaniel, you’re all set to give your dog the happiest and healthiest life possible!

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