The Irish Water Spaniel is an Irish breed that was created to be a waterfowl retriever. Today they are used as a hunting dog and as a family dog. They have a very friendly and playful temperament and they get along with kids as long as the play doesn’t get too rough. This breed does have a tendency to be dog aggressive so they will need to be either an only pet or they will need to be properly socialized and trained to accept a housemate.
The Irish Water Spaniel stands between 20 and 23 inches tall and they weigh between 45 and 65 pounds. Its coat is designed to help protect the Irish Water Spaniel from the water is works in. It is made up of a dense layer of tight liver colored curls.
Origin of the Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is believed to be an old breed with an ancient lineage and there are a lot of theories about its origins and there is evidence of Irish Water Spaniel-type of dogs going back as far as the 7th and 8th centuries AD.
Most probably, Irish Water Spaniels descended from Poodles and Irish Setters, or from Poodles and the Curly-Coated Retrievers crosses in early Ireland. In the late 1100’s, they were called Shannon Spaniels, Rat-Tail Spaniels or Whip-Tail Spaniels.
Nowadays, the Irish Water Spaniel breed is a true dual-purpose hunting dog. They are qualified with upland game as well as waterfowl.
Irish Water Spaniel Appearance and Abilities
This breed is the tallest among spaniels and they closely resemble a brown Standard Poodle. It has a strong build with appearance and physique perfectly suited for a gun dog bred and for all types of shooting.
It has a curly coat which is colored rich liver to dark liver with a purplish tinge. It has no white hair or markings except for the graying of age. It is a double-coated breed. The coat is water-repellent It consists of dense, tight ringlets with a topknot of long, loose curls. The face is level and smooth. The coat is hypoallergenic thus suitable for allergy sufferers.
It has a distinctive “rat tail” which is strong, low set and carried level with the back. The tail thick at the root where it is covered for two to three inches with short curls until they stop abruptly.
It is a strong and intelligent breed. As retrievers, they are great hunting companions. They are noted for their bold and daring retrieval abilities.
Temperament and Tendencies
The Irish Water Spaniel is clown-like and can be amusing to have around. They will try to think of creative ways to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. That are very eager to please their masters, making them relatively easy to train.
They exhibit great intelligence with rugged endurance and are bold with an eager temperament. The Irish Water Spaniel is naturally alert and inquisitive. Their temperament is stable and humorous. They may be reserved with strangers but never aggressive or shy.
Training and Care of the Irish Water Spaniel
As a sporting breed of dog, they are an active and energetic companion. Regular exercise is very important for the breed. With enough mental and physical exercise and owners who convincingly display a natural, firm, confident and consistent leadership over the dog will find it to be easy-going and gentle.
It should be socialized well as a puppy. Sensitive but firm leadership will make the breed develop into a well-tempered house pet. They do their best with children who know how to be little pack leaders. Owners should never be meek or passive when handling this breed. They can become stubborn, mischievous, timid, nervous, suspicious, and even over protective.
The Irish Water Spaniel requires brushing every few weeks and trimming every two months to neaten and shape the coat.
The breed needs a lot of running and playing. It requires venting out its field instincts. This breed does best with at least an average-sized yard.