Irish Water Spaniel Puppies

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A confident and fun-loving family dog

The Irish Water Spaniel is smart, lively, and eager to please. These dogs are often called the "clowns" of the Spaniel family because of their poofy hair and rowdy personality. However, Irish Water Spaniels are equally skilled at retrieving game as they are at making their owners laugh.

Irish Water Spaniel At a Glance

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Irish Water Spaniel At a Glance

  • Size: 21"-24", 45-70 lbs.
  • Lifespan: 12-13 years
  • Energy Level: high
  • Coat: Smooth and wavy
  • Shedding: light
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Dog Group: Sporting
  • Common Nicknames: Shannon Spaniel, Rat Tail Spaniel, Whiptail Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel Breed Guide

Learn More About Irish Water Spaniels

  • Temperament

    Irish Water Spaniels are self-assured, happy dogs with a charming sense of humor. They form strong bonds with their family, including children. They are, however, wary of strangers and do not always get along with other dogs and pets.

  • Health

    Irish Water Spaniels are healthy, but are often allergic to Sulfa drugs, as well as the popular deworming medication Ivermectin. Your vet will more than likely be aware of this, but it is always good practice to remind them to avoid these drugs during treatment. The breed can also be susceptible to Hip Dysplasia, allergies, and Thyroid Disease.

  • Activity Level

    Irish Water Spaniels are high-energy dogs who require a lot of exercise on a regular basis. Long walks, hikes, and backyard play sessions are excellent methods for them to expend energy while also spending time with their owners.

  • Grooming

    Their double coat hardly sheds, but will need to be brushed 3-4 times per week to prevent matting. These regular brushings will also remove most of the dirt and debris from their curly coat. Their ears are covered in thick hair and hang down, so they should be cleaned regularly to remove moisture and bacteria which helps prevent infection.

  • Shedding

    The hypoallergenic coat of the Irish Water Spaniel will shed very little, and will shed about the same amount as a Standard Poodle.

  • Appearance

    Irish Water Spaniels are strong, well-balanced dogs with a poof of curls on the top of their heads and a silky "rat" tail. Their curly coats are typically a distinct liver color called puce liver that is not found in any other dog breed.

  • History

    Irish Water Spaniels descend from two Spaniel breeds popular in Ireland before the early 1800s; the South Country Water Spaniel and the North Country Water Spaniel. The Irish Water Spaniel today most closely resembles the South Country Water Spaniel. The first Purebred Irish Water Spaniel was bred in the 1830s by Justin McCarthy, and their popularity quickly grew due to the disposition and reuptation of retrievers and water dogs. They made their way to America in the 1870s and quickly became one of the most popular sporting breeds in the country.