Irish Water Spaniel - Largest and Oldest Spaniel Breed

Irish Water Spaniel is a fun loving dog. Apart from being a proficient hunter, it is a great entertainer and makes wonderful family companion. It is one of the rarest breeds of this world. The dog has closely packed curls and people often get confused between this breed and poodle. The dog excels in hunting, retrieving and pointing in water as well as on land. It is an incredible swimmer and thrives in a place close to water. The dog is also clownish in behavior and has great sense of humor. This breed is a great combination of intelligence with endurance. He is bold, outgoing and has incredible work ethics. The dog is not animal friendly and can be aggressive with them. Like other spaniels, it gets attached to single member in the family the most. The dog is not barky but it will bark on new people. This makes them wonderful watchdog too.  If you want an active, hunter, trainable and outgoing dog, this is right breed for you. This breed also excels in obedience, agility and rally related dog’s sports.


There are many speculations made about its history. The exact origin of this breed is debatable. Researchers have found out that the dog has Poodle, Barbet and Portuguese water dog ancestry. Few believe that Justin McCarthy is responsible person for its development. The dog continues to serve its purpose for which it was bred. It is a great swimmer and excels at water hunting games. The dog is popular at its native country but to the rest of the world it is rare.


Irish Water Spaniel Facts And Characteristics

  1. The breed belongs to Ireland and excels at water hunting games
  2. Life expectancy of this breed is 10 to 12 years
  3. It is an alert, intelligent, clownish and inquisitive breed
  4. Height of the dog is 51-58 cm
  5. It weighs around 20-30 kg
  6. The dog comes in brown color
  7. Average cost of the puppy is $800 - $1000 USD
  8. The dog needs plenty of exercise to remain happy and even tempered
  9. It doesn’t bark excessively. However it barks on strangers which makes it good watchdog
  10. It is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful and cheerful around them
  11. The grooming needs of the dog are moderate
  12. It is a hypoallergenic breed
  13. It sheds lightly
  14. The dog should be given opportunity to swim
  15. It is not an animal friendly breed
  16. They are not suitable breed for novice owner because training the dog is not easy. They tend to be headstrong and independent thinkers
  17. Drugs like sulfa and leptospirosis component injection can be fatal for its body.


It is the tallest spaniel breed. The dog has a magnetic appearance and it will definitely be the reason for head turns when walking with this breed. The dog has a square shaped, long muzzle which ends in a well-developed large nose.  The dog has leveled bite teeth. Its chest is deep and strong. The legs should be muscular without being bulky. Its hind legs are set at higher position that aids them in swimming. Webbed shaped feet also help them in swimming. The tail is thick at the roots and gets thin towards the end. This type of tail is called rat tail.

Size and Weight

Ideal height of male breed should be 22 to 24 inches at the withers. Female should be 21 to 23 inches tall. Male should weigh around 55 to 68 pounds while female should weigh around 45 to 58 pounds.

Coat and Color

The dog has double coat. Its hair has tight curls which covers its whole body that includes legs too. However the hair on its face and tail is smooth and short. The dog even has curly bangs on head that protects its eyes. Its undercoat is dense, soft and waterproof. The dog comes in rich brown color. There should be no white color or any other color marking on its coat.



  1. Personality - It is a fun loving creature that can make a game out of any activity. The dog adores its family and craves for their companionship. He loves to get involved in every family activity and that includes outdoor trip too. It is polite with strangers, though not necessarily friendly. With children, they are patient and gentle. They make best playmate to kids. Inside home they remain well-mannered without being hyperactive.  They also make great watchdogs because of their attentive nature. This breed is an excellent swimmer and loves to go swimming with family members.
  2. Behavior - It is a happy breed that loves to please humans. Even the old dog will greet you on your arrival to home. They tend to be bouncy and love throwing themselves on people so teach them “stay” and “down” commands. They have high prey drive towards small animals and are prone to chase them. Animal aggression towards same sex is common in spaniel breeds.
  3. Activities requirement - The dog loves water and water related games. They are reliable trackers and retrievers. The dog is gifted with supreme stamina and endurance which makes it one of the best water spaniel dogs. Give this breed ample amount of exercise and work to keep them happy.
  4. Trainability - The dogs have willful streak which make them moderately difficult to train. Puppies may not always listen to you and will search for fun in every lesson provided. Be stern but not harsh in making them learn skills. The dog will learn any skills which he thinks is a game so keep the training fun filed and excited.


This dog’s meal should be broken into 3 to 4 small meals because they are likely to suffer from bloat.  You can feed this dog poultry, fish, lamb, avocado and wheat.


The dogs can live up to 10 to 12 years.

Health issues

It is hypoallergenic breed. Breeds health concern may include- ear infection, hip dysplasia, cataract, hypothyroidism and progressive retinal atrophy.


Grooming Needs

The dog sheds negligibly; its coat should be brushed after every two days to avoid tangled hair. The natural oil found on its coat attracts dirt and mat; brushing will circulate the natural hair and will keeps it coat dirt and mat free. It is advisable to bathe the dog after every brushing so that curls remain in shape. They have large floppy ears which are profusely covered with hair. This doesn’t allow air to pass; also water gets trapped into its ears after swimming which leads to painful ear infection. Therefore it is imperative to clean their ears after very swimming exercise. Brushing its teeth and trimming its nail should be a part of grooming regime.


They are not suitable for apartment life because of their extreme level of exercise requirements. This breed needs active owners who can devote time to it and fulfill its exercise and mental stimulation needs. The dog prefers cold climate.

Pet Names

  1. Sona
  2. Lolo
  3. Bebo
  4. Bella
  5. Picku

Things To Consider Before Buying


  1. It is family oriented dog that craves for human touch in its life
  2. They are versatile hunting dogs capable of hunting on land and in water
  3. It is a hypoallergenic breed.


  1. They are not suitable for apartment life
  2. The breed requires active owner
  3. Training them can be difficult.