Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is a relatively rare, Irish dog breed that was created for water retrieving duties. These dogs were used for retrieving ducks and other waterfowl Irish hunters used to hunt. The modern-day breed still has a strong affection and love towards the water and is the best possible fit for families or individuals that live near large bodies of water. The Irish Water Spaniel is a great pet, companion, and friend. These dogs love living actively and have an abundance of energy that needs to be spent and directed towards something productive in order to remain healthy and happy.

These dogs are quite often mistaken for Poodles. They share a significant resemblance to the Poodle and canine historians believe that Poodle or the ancestor of the Poodle is in the bloodline of the Irish Water Spaniels. While the Poodle, their “cousin” migrated to a more of family life, the Irish Water Spaniel still has their hunting and retrieving skills which make them great hunting dogs to this day.

This breed is known for its fun and clownish character that is always going to make you smile and laugh. They are smart, agile, intelligent, and have a strong will to hunt and work. They have been carefully bred for centuries and their character was the most important thing breeders were focusing on.

Irish Water Spaniel


21-24 in (53-61 cm)

Irish Water Spaniel


45-65 lb (20-30 kg)

Irish Water Spaniel



Irish Water Spaniel

Life Expectancy:

12-13 years

Breed History

The origin of the Irish Water Spaniel is still uncertain but we do know that they came from Ireland and that they appeared in the 1830s. This dog breed came to the US in the 1870s but they never reach popularity as they have in their native land – Ireland.

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

FCI standard

This is a fairly old breed and was developed in the country that is a full member of the Federation Cynologique Internationale so it is no wonder that this breed is fully recognized and registered by this enormous cynology association. The FCI has a standard for this breed in place and this standard describes these dogs as being smart with a strong built. The FCI placed these dogs in Group 8 (Retrievers, Flushing Dogs, Water Dogs), Section 3 (Water Dogs). These dogs have to undergo a working trial which is no surprise as they are predominantly a working breed. This standard describes the required size and it is 21 - 23 in (53 - 59 cm) for the males and 20 - 22 in (51 - 56 cm) for the female dogs.

The IWS was registered by the FCI on the 28th of December 1954.


Irish Water spaniel has a double coat that shed little and these dogs need to be brushed a few times a week to keep them looking good and to prevent hair from matting.

Irish Water Spaniel coat colors:

  • Rich liver to dark liver

hey will also need other basic care; brush their teeth at least three times a week. Check their ears for signs of infection and redness, bathe them when needed, and trim their nails if they don’t wear them down naturally.


Irish Water Spaniel is a highly energetic and active breed. They were bred to work all day, so these dogs need a lot of daily exercise. These dogs need an active lifestyle to be happy. They love to be outside and be part of the action, whether running and chasing balls, playing, jumping or jogging. If you are thinking about getting an Irish Water Spaniel, make sure you have enough free time and energy to spend it outside playing and training your Irish Water Spaniel. If your schedule can’t allow you that, consider getting some less active breed.


As a pet, the Irish Water Spaniel can be wonderful. They get along great with all family members and love spending time with them. They will usually choose their “main” owner, the one person they will form a special bond with. They aren’t made for a watchdog’s role because they are relatively friendly, even with strangers. They are an energetic breed but won’t mind a lazy afternoon if they had a couple of active days before. They are best suited for homes with yards where they can explore and spend their excess energy. 

Like any other dog breed, the Irish Water Spaniel requires early socialization. It is essential to ensure that your dog doesn’t become shy or aggressive. Expose your dog to many different people, dogs, sights, and situations to secure a well-rounded dog. Because they have a high prey drive, even with the right training and socialization, these dogs will not be able to resist going after a rabbit or squirrel. They can adapt to any environment as long as you secure them with plenty of physical and mental activity.


Early socialization and proper training can teach them to behave even when children are around. Their temperament makes them more suitable for families with older children. If you train and socialize your dog well, your children will get a great playing partner that has plenty of energy. These dogs can play for hours upon hours without getting tired or bored.

Children should never be left alone with any dog, no matter what breed it might be. You should make sure that your children understand how to approach dogs of this breed and understand how to interact and play with them properly.

Other animals

These dogs are a hunting breed, but they learned to hunt in packs, which makes them quite tolerable of other dogs; they love having company. The Irish Water Spaniel was developed to hunt in coordination with other dogs and hunters. 

They are not the best fit for other pets. They have a strong prey drive, so they will most likely try and catch smaller animals such as gerbils, hamsters, squirrels, or rabbits. They can learn to get along with pets they are raised with, but our advice would be never to leave them unattended.

Health problems

Like any other dog breed, the Irish Water Spaniel can potentially develop health problems. If you are buying a dog, make sure the breeder can provide you with the necessary health tests and guarantees. Always ask to see the results of tests from the puppy’s parents. The health problems these dogs are associated with are: 

  • Hypothyroidism - A health problem caused by the hyperproduction of hormones from the thyroid gland.
  • Epilepsy - Brain problem causing mild to severe seizures.
  • Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
  • Cataracts - Cloudy spots on the lens of the eye
  • Ear infections - Especially for dogs that love water, you need to check their ears regularly for signs of infections or redness.
  • Entropion - A defect causing the eyelid to roll inward. 
  • Allergies - these dogs are prone to have allergic reactions to specific foods, products, or medications.

The Irish Water Spaniel is generally considered a very healthy breed that can live 12-13 years

Irish Water Spaniel breeders

If you decide to get one of these dogs, make sure you buy from a registered and reputable Irish Water Spaniel breeder that takes good care of their dogs. This is an active breed that is not for everybody so before you decide to get one, make sure you made an informed decision and made sure that this breed is the best choice for you and your family.

Responsible breeders will breed dogs that don’t only look good but have great characters as well. You must find a good Irish Water Spaniel breeder that can help you learn about this breed and make an informed choice about getting a dog with these characteristics. 

Buying a dog from a responsible breeder will cost you more money, but you can be sure that you will get a healthy puppy. If you are unable to buy a dog, we advise you to search for local animal shelters because there is a chance you can find Irish Water Spaniel dog in it.

When you bring your new puppy home start with the training and socialization immediately. By doing so, you will end up with a well-behaved dog whom you can trust. Provide him with enough daily exercise for him to be happy. If you devote your time and energy to this dog, you can be sure that you will end up with a companion for life.


World Dog Finder team


Updated at27.06.2020.