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Adopt an Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


gundog, spaniel

Area of origin:


Original function:

water retrieving

Average size of male:

Ht: 22-24, Wt: 55-65

Average size of female:

Ht: 21-23, Wt: 45-58

Other names:


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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

Irish Water Spaniel Dogs Available on Petfinder Right Now

See more adoptable Irish Water Spaniel dogs available on Petfinder

Irish Water Spaniel Dog Temperament

The Irish water spaniel goes at everything in life with gusto and enthusiasm. He loves to swim, run, hunt and play and needs a lot of exercise. A clown at heart, he can be stubborn and independent, so he needs to be trained with patience, firmness and a sense of humor. He is generally good with children, though some can be timid.

Irish Water Spaniel Dog Care

This active, athletic, inquisitive breed needs lots of mental and physical exertion to keep him from becoming frustrated or bored. An hour of free running or strenuous playing a day is necessary to satisfy his needs. Obedience work can also be helpful in giving him the mental challenges he enjoys. The curly coat needs brushing and combing two to three times a week, plus scissoring every few months. Like all dogs, he loses his coat periodically; however, the hairs tend to become trapped in the other hairs rather than fall off. If not combed out, they will form mats and cords.

Irish Water Spaniel Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD
Minor concerns: none
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: hip
Life span: 10-12 years

Interested in the history of the Irish Water Spaniel dog breed?

The Irish water spaniel is one of the oldest and most distinctive spaniels. Dogs resembling them are depicted in manuscripts from 1,000 years ago. In the 1100s, mention is made of dogs called Shannon spaniels, rat-tail spaniels, whip-tail spaniels or Irish water spaniels. Continued references to the Irish water spaniel can be found from 1600 on. Around that time, the king of France is said to have been presented with an Irish water spaniel. Whether the breed was at one time found in different varieties or whether several similar breeds were his forebears is a matter of conjecture. What is agreed upon is that several similar spaniels existed in Ireland: the Northern Irish, Southern Irish and Tweed spaniels. The Southern Irish spaniel, also called McCarthy's Breed, is credited with being the eventual major forebear of today's dogs. In the mid-1800s, the appearance of the prolific sire Boatswain so influenced the breed that he is often credited as being the progenitor of the modern Irish water spaniel. The breed entered the show ring in both Britain and America by the late 1800s. In 1875, he was the third-most popular sporting dog. Despite his enchantingly clownish appearance and adept water-retrieving ability, the Irish water spaniel lost popularity and is only rarely seen in the show ring or found as the family pet.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Irish Water Spaniel Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Irish Water Spaniels ready for adoption:

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