Irish Water Spaniel – a brief look into the breed

My sister recently got an Irish Water Spaniel, so I’ve been researching on the breed. That big brown dog is so cute!

As his name would suggest, the Irish Water Spaniel is an excellent water dog and retriever. He can be described as beautiful, loyal, brave, and intelligent, and he displays a joy in living. Sometimes referred to as the clown of the Spaniel family, it is also a very active and precocious dog, meaning he’ll need a high amount of exercise.

This breed loves to work and play, and needs to be given plenty to do or he will become restless. This can be field work, tracking, obedience or agility training. Due to his high energy level the elderly or disabled owner may have trouble keeping up.

A house with a fenced yard is preferable for the Irish Water Spaniel, although he can adapt to apartment living as long as he is given plenty of exercise.

This breed is curious and expressive, somewhat stubborn and very independent. He is very affectionate and loving toward his owner and very much enjoys and needs human contact, but he is suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive toward other dogs. As a result, socialization and obedience training need to start early.

The Irish Water Spaniel is good with children provided no roughhousing occurs. Like all breeds, they should be supervised around infants. These dogs need strong leadership from early on, otherwise they will walk all over a spoiling, weak leader. He does not, however, exhibit the possessive aggression problems seen in some other spaniels and is generally quiet, barking only when necessary. He will have a tendency to slobber and drool.

Breed History

The Irish Water Spaniel is an old breed, developed in Ireland from several spaniel breeds toward the end of the 19th century. He was bred to excel as a water retriever but like other spaniels is very capable of flushing birds.

Physical Traits

His liver colored coat is probably his most distinguishing physical characteristic. Much of his body is covered with tight ringlets of hair. As a result, this is a high maintenance breed, requiring extensive grooming. They need to be brushed almost daily to prevent matting and regular trimming of the coat by a professional is necessary. Shedding, however is minimal.

The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the spaniels, standing between 21 and 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 45 and 65 pounds. It is generally a healthy breed susceptible to hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and occasionally, eye problems. It’s life span is generally 11-13 years and the average litter size is 7-8 pups.

Guest Post by:  Isabella Miller of Me Puppy

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