Irish Water Spaniel Breed Guide

Breed Group:
Sporting Dogs

Middle Age: 5 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

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Irish Water Spaniels Background

Originating in Ireland back in the 1800’s, the Irish Water Spaniel is an athletic breed that loves a job to do. As you can assume by their name, these dogs excel both on and off the land.

Their swimming skills allow them to hunt for ducks and other game, and then seemingly transition onto dry land. While these dogs have proven to be hard workers, their talents go beyond the standard fieldwork. They have also proven to be a glitzy show dog in the competition ring and was a fan favorite during the 1800’s.

These versatile pups made their way to America during the 1870’s, however, they never were able to gain the same popularity like they had in Ireland.  In almost 15 years time, the Irish Water Spaniel was added to the United States recognized breed list of the American Kennel Club.

Irish Water Spaniels Personality

The Irish Water Spaniel is both determined and playful. Whether they have a job to do or they are with their family, they will be smiling ear to ear as long as they are around the people they love. They also have clownish personalities at times and will do whatever they can to entertain themselves or others.  

While they may be standoffish towards strangers, they will never be aggressive or develop inappropriate behaviors. Lastly, some Irish Water Spaniels have a tendency to be independent. When this happens, it’s best to train your dog continuously and firmly so you can gain his respect.

Irish Water Spaniels Training

The Irish Water Spaniel is very intelligent, which shows when it comes time to dog training. Most owners say that this breed is a breeze to train, and that’s probably because of their ancestry in hunting and other fieldwork.

One of the main reasons the Irish Water Spaniel is so easy to train is because they love to please their owners. They want nothing more than to see a smile on their family’s faces.

However, it’s important to note that this breed also has a mischievous side to them. This can make training difficult when all your dog wants to do is go play outside or cause some trouble. Professionals recommend enrolling your Irish Water Spaniel in obedience training if you are having trouble setting some ground rules yourself.

Irish Water Spaniels Exercise Needs

Because of their high energy levels, the Irish Water Spaniel should get lots of exercise. While they love running around the park, they enjoy swimming in a lake or pool even more. An active family that loves to go hiking, biking, swimming or running would be the best fit for this breed.

Irish Water Spaniel Lifespan

On average, the Irish Water spaniel lives to be around 10 to 12 years old.

Irish Water Spaniel Breed Popularity

Even though the Irish Water spaniel is a popular breed in Ireland and Great Britain, they still haven’t gained the same recognition in the United States today. As of right now, these dogs are ranked as the 150th most popular dog breeds in the United States.

Irish Water Spaniels Feeding Requirements

On average, an Irish Water Spaniel should consume between 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality food a day, split into two separate meals. It’s important to keep in mind when feeding your dog, you have to take into account his size, age, metabolism, and activity level. For further professional assistance on your dog’s diet, contact your local veterinarian.

Irish Water Spaniels Grooming

The coat of the Irish Water Spaniel is always a reddish-brown color and completely curly from head to toe. In order to keep their coat at it’s best, brush it out at least 3 times a week. This will help to prevent their coat from matting or tangling.

Aside from their coat grooming, brush their teeth at least once a week to avoid dental disease from developing. It’s also a good idea to check their ears and eyes for any type of developing an infection.

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.

Irish Water Spaniels Health

The Irish Water Spaniel is known to be a healthy breed, however, they are still prone to several health conditions like any other breeds. Possible Irish Water Spaniel health problems include:

Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the dog has a deficiency of thyroid hormones. When this happens, they may become infertile, tired, overweight, or experience a change in their coat. A dog that has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism can take a synthetic hormone pill that will cure them of their symptoms.

Follicular Dysplasia: Follicular Dysplasia occurs when the dog experiences a loss of hair or change in their coat. Although the changes may be annoying, they do not have any impact on the dog’s overall health.

Entropion: Entropion in dogs causes the eyelids to roll inward. Once this happens, the eyelashes can poke and irritate the cornea. If you notice that your dog is scratching his eyes, this may be a sign that he is suffering from entropion.

Other Resources

National Breed Website: Irish Water Spaniel Club of America  

Rescues: Irish Water Dog Rescue 

Health Issues Associated with this Breed: