The Irish Water Spaniel


Irish Water Spaniel bloodlines are thought to date back as far as the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Dogs found in southern Ireland below the River Shannon in the late 1100s were at the time called Shannon Spaniels and today are called Irish Water Spaniels. Unfortunately Justin McCarthy, the father of the breed, left no breeding records. Some have suggested dogs that were involved in the breeding of the Irish Water Spaniel included the Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Barbet, and the now-extinct English Water Spaniel.

The Irish Water Spaniel was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1884.

Dog in grassSizing up

  • Weight: 45 to 68 lbs.
  • Height: 21 to 24 inches
  • Coat: Double coat with dense curls
  • Color: Liver/puce with a purple hue
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

What’s the Irish Water Spaniel like?

The Irish Water Spaniel makes for a great family dog because he’s great with other pets and wonderful with children who are respectful toward him. He is not an aggressive dog but he does have a fierce bark which can make him very good as a watch dog. Exercise is very important for this breed and regular walks are encouraged. He loves a good game of fetch or a good long swim. If unexercised he can become mischievous and destructive.

The Irish Water Spaniel is very intelligent and has a natural instinct to please. He also has a sense of working as a team player which makes him relatively easy to train. As always begin the training and socialization processes early.

Grooming your Irish Water Spaniel consists of keeping the ears, teeth, and nails healthy. His coat sheds very little and can be combed through every 1-2 weeks to keep it free of mats.


The Irish Water Spaniel is generally a healthy breed but watch for any of the following conditions:

Takeaway Points

  • The Irish Water Spaniel sheds little to none.
  • The Irish Water Spaniel needs to be exercised in order to stay happy and healthy.
  • The Irish Water Spaniel is great with kids which makes him suitable for any home.
  • The Irish Water Spaniel is a water dog so be wary of ear infections.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on: 
Monday, December 29, 2014