WATER SPANIEL: Treasure Among Breeds

Discover the charm of Water Spaniel, also known as the Irish Water Spaniel. This gundog is a distinctive and versatile breed renowned for its exceptional aquatic abilities and unique appearance.

Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is a rare breed originating from Ireland, prized for its curly, waterproof coat and exceptional swimming abilities. This breed is known for intelligence and loyalty, these dogs excel as water retrievers and make wonderful companions for active families.

This Water spaniel is also known for its tight, curly coat, “rat tail” (whip-like tail with a distinctive curl), and signature “topknot” of long, loose curls on the head, the Water Spaniel stands out among spaniel breeds.

Let’s get started to learn about its history, appearance, temperament and much more.


The Irish Water Spaniel has a rich history that dates back several centuries, and its origins are believed to be rooted in Ireland. While the exact ancestry of the breed is not entirely clear, it is thought to be descended from several water dogs and spaniel breeds. The breed’s development was likely influenced by the Poodle, Portuguese water dog, and various spaniels.

The Irish Water Spaniel gained recognition in the 1830s, and the breed standard was officially established in the late 19th century. Its distinct appearance marked by a curly waterproof coat, rat tail, and topknot, sets it apart from other spaniel breeds.

Historically, the Irish Water Spaniel was primarily used as a waterfowl retriever, excelling in retrieving game from both water and land. Its waterproof coat and swimming prowess made it particularly well-suited for retrieving waterfowl in various terrains.

Today, the breed continues to be valued for its abilities in the field and its affectionate nature as a family companion.


This Spaniel is a dog breed known for its distinctive appearance. It has a curly, waterproof coat. This breed has a long, tapered muzzle. The Water Spaniel has a strong, muscular body with a deep chest and a thick, powerful tail. Overall, it presents a graceful appearance, perfectly suited for its original purpose as a water retriever.


Physical characteristics


  • Male 22-24 inches
  • Female 21-23 inches


  • Male 55-65 pounds
  • Female 45-58 pounds


He has distinctive curly and water-resistant coat.


The colors are:

  • Solid Liver
  • Rich Hue


This dog has dark and expressive eyes that harmonize with their coat color.


The ears are long and pendant-shaped, that hang close to the head, framing their face.


The tail is distinctive “rat tail,” which is thick at the base, tapers to a point.


The average lifespan is around 10-12 years.


The Water Spaniel is celebrated for its amiable and lively temperament, making it a delightful companion and skilled working dog. With a distinct combination of intelligence, this breed is known for its adaptability to various roles.

In the field, this Spaniel showcases its natural abilities as a proficient water retriever, demonstrating a love for swimming and a keen sense of smell. Beyond its working capabilities, this breed is equally cherished for its affectionate nature as a family pet.

Its friendly disposition extends to children, making it a suitable choice for families. While it can be reserved with strangers, its overall sociable nature makes it a wonderful companion in various social settings.


Grooming this gundog is a unique yet rewarding aspect of caring for this distinctive breed. The breed’s curly, water-resistant coat requires regular attention to keep it in optimal condition. Routine brushing with a slicker brush or comb is essential to prevent matting and remove loose hair.

Occasional trimming, particularly around the ears, tail, and feet, helps maintain a neat appearance and reduces the risk of tangles. Bathing is necessary to keep the coat clean and preserve its water-resistant properties; using a dog-specific shampoo ensures the coat’s health. Nail trims and dental care complete the grooming routine, contributing to the overall well-being of this water spaniel.

Irish Water Spaniel


Training this gundog is a rewarding endeavor due to its intelligence, eagerness to please, and versatile nature. Early age socialization is crucial to expose them to various people, environments, and situations, fostering a well-rounded and confident adult dog. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and play, making training sessions enjoyable and effective.

Obedience training is important to instill good manners and ensure control, particularly in off-leash situations. Consistency and patience are key elements in training this breed, as they can be independent thinkers. Engaging in regular training sessions throughout their lives helps to maintain their mental sharpness and reinforces the strong bond between him and its owner.


Providing adequate exercise for the Water Spaniel is crucial to meet its energetic and active nature. Daily walks, runs, or jogs are essential to fulfill their exercise needs, and incorporating off-leash play in a secure area allows them to unleash their boundless energy.

Water activities, such as swimming or retrieving toys from the water, align with their natural instincts and provide both physical and mental stimulation. Due to their retrieving heritage, games like fetch offer an excellent way to combine mental stimulation with physical exercise.

Regular exercise not only maintains their physical health but also supports a well-balanced and content, ensuring they are both physically and mentally fulfilled.


Nutrition plays a vital role in ensuring the overall health and well-being of this spaniel. As an active and energetic breed, they benefit from a balanced and high-quality diet that meets their specific nutritional needs. A diet rich in proteins from quality sources helps support their muscle development and energy requirements.

Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, contribute to the health of their skin and coat. Due to the breed’s propensity for ear infections, a diet that supports ear health, including proper levels of zinc and antioxidants, may be beneficial. Fresh water should always be available to keep them well-hydrated.

Health concerns

Irish Water Spaniel is generally a healthy breed, like any dog, they may be prone to certain health concerns. It’s important for owners and prospective buyers to be aware of potential issues. Some health concerns may include:

Ear Infections

Due to their floppy ears, they can be prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection, such as redness or discharge, are essential.

Hip Dysplasia

This genetic condition can affect the hip joints, leading to pain and arthritis. Responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This inherited eye condition can lead to vision impairment or blindness over time.


It is a thyroid disorder that can affect metabolism and overall health.


Some individuals may be prone to skin allergies, requiring attention to their diet and environment.

Bottom Line

The Irish Water Spaniel stands as a unique and versatile breed, excelling both in the field and as a cherished companion. With its distinctive curly coat, friendly disposition, and exceptional swimming abilities, this breed has earned a special place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts.

Their intelligence, eagerness to please, and sociable nature make them not only adept working dogs but also affectionate family members. As a loyal and lively breed, the Irish Water Spaniel continues to capture the admiration of those seeking a devoted and adaptable canine companion.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Can Irish Water Spaniels live in apartments?

While they adapt to various living conditions, Irish Water Spaniels thrive in environments with access to outdoor space for exercise, especially those involving water activities.

Q: Are they good swimmers?

Yes, they are excellent swimmers and have a natural affinity for water, thanks to their history as waterfowl retrievers.

Q: Do they get along with other pets?

With proper socialization, they can get along well with other pets. Early introductions and training are key to fostering positive relationships.

Q: Are Water Spaniels good for first-time dog owners?

While they are intelligent and trainable, the Water Spaniel’s energetic nature and grooming requirements may be better suited for owners with some dog-handling experience.

Q: Are these Spaniels good with children?

Yes, these Spaniels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them generally good with children. As with any dog, early socialization and supervision are important.

Q: Are these gundogs prone to separation anxiety?

These gundogs can form strong bonds with their owners, and some individuals may experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Gradual acclimation to alone time and providing enrichment can help.

Q: Do Irish Water Spaniels have a strong prey drive?

Like many retriever breeds, Irish Water Spaniels may have a moderate prey drive, especially when it comes to chasing moving objects. Early training can help manage this behavior.

Q: Do Irish Water Spaniels bark a lot?

While they may bark to alert their owners, Irish Water Spaniels are not known to be excessive barkers. Early training can help manage their barking behavior.

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