Irish Water Spaniel


A medium sized Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Water Spaniel Quick Summary
Also Known As
Height (at withers)20-24in (51-61cm)
Weight45-65lbs (20-30kg)
Hair Colour(s)Liver
Lifespan10-12 years
Energy LevelMedium
Litter size4-12
Barking TendencyLow
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingHigh
Suitability for kidsMedium
Animal compatabilityMedium
Aggression levelsLow
Distress if leftLow

The Irish Water Spaniel is a stout dog and the largest of the Spaniels. The body has a deep but narrow chest to facilitate swimming, straight front legs, hind quarters slightly higher than the shoulders, and webbed feet that again assist with swimming. The rather large head has an arched skull, a long square muzzle, long pendulous ears, dark eyes and a curly top-knot. The distinctive coat consists of a dense undercoat and a crisp, curly outercoat, and the colouring is normally liver.


Irish Water Spaniels are bold, fun-loving natural clowns with personalitites that can sometimes differ from timid to nervous to suspicious. With proper socialisation though, generally they are easy-going, eager to please and inquisitive, and their very high energy levels as puppies will decrease as they grow older. Although some can be one-person dogs, mostly they are family-loving dogs that are devoted, although often mischievous. These dogs are gentle, eager, highly intelligent and quick to learn, which can make training easier, but they can also be quite stubborn, sensitive and independant too, which makes them best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership rather than for novices. For example they will sometimes refuse commands from family members who have not established leadership over them. Irish Water Spaniels get along well with children, particularly when raised alongside them, and also with pets when again socialised early - otherwise some can be aggressive, particularly with other dogs. These protective dogs will be wary and reserved around strangers, which also makes them effective watchdogs. Although normally quiet, with the tendency to drool and slobber occasionally, they will bark to warn the family when absolutely necessary.

History & Skills

Irish Water Spaniels originate from Ireland, unsurprisingly, and were bred to retrieve water birds. Probably descended from Poodles and Irish Setters, they have a long history albeit with a rather unlcear origin.

Breed Specific Ailments

Irish Water Spaniels tend to live between 10-12 years, and although generally a healthy breed there are a few noted health problems, including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, allergies, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, eye entropion and epilepsy.


Irish Water Spaniels are low shedders, which makes them suitable for allergy sufferers, although their grooming requirements are somewhat medium to high because their coat tends to mat a lot. The coat will require brushing several times each week to keep it in good condition, and hair around the bottom area should be kept trimmed for hygience reasons. Other trimming should be done by a professional when required. The ears should be checked and kept clean and dry to reduce the chance of any infections.

Exercise & Environment

Irish Water Spaniels have a lot of energy and stamina and love to be outdoors. For this reason they are best suited to the country, or at least suburban areas, and need a long daily walk plus chance to play outdoors in a yard or garden. The chance of a long swim will be appreciated too.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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