Irish Water Spaniel

History

It is believed that the Irish Water Spaniel dates back well over a thousand years and was used by fishermen and hunters on land. It's soft mouth was ideal for retrieving game from the shoot and retrieving in water. They have webbed feet and are powerful swimmers.

The exact make up of the Irish Water Spaniel is unknown, many believe it is made up of Land Spaniels, Poodles and the Portuguese Water Dog. They are the largest of the Spaniel breeds and considered quite rare nowadays, even in Ireland.

Behaviour

The Irish Water Dog is a great pet and happy to get involved with all aspects of family life. They dislike being left alone for too long and prefer to have people around them for most of the day. They are very calm around children and suitable to live with other pets and dogs. They can be slightly shy of strangers at first if not well socialised, but are rarely aggressive towards those they do not know. They will often look to you for reassurance of people entering the home. If it's ok with you, they will accept them. Their tail can wipe out a coffee table of mugs!

Training should be consistent and firm, but loving and friendly. They learn quickly and will want to please you, but a weak willed owner will soon discover that this mild mannered dog could take over. By teaching them what is acceptable behaviour from day one, they should consider you 'top dog' and follow accordingly. They can get up to mischief and will try and test boundaries when they are young, but soon learn that they need to behave around you. They like to work and agility, obedience and tracking are all good ways to keep their mind and body active.

As their name suggests, the IWS loves water and they really do need the chance to swim as often as possible. Swimming is excellent exercise for a dog and the IWS will be in his element if allowed in the water. You will struggle to stop them getting in. Or getting out. Floating dummies thrown in the water will provide hours of fun for them. Recall is usually good unless water is involved!

They need long walks and can make good jogging partners and you will struggle to tire them out as they have immense stamina. Ideally they need an owner that spends lots of time outdoors to help keep this active breed physically fit and mentally stimulated. That said, some are complete couch potatoes that will want to sleep all day!

Their curly coat requires attention by brushing every few days to prevent tangles. The odd brush to remove any burrs plus clipping every few months. They tend not to shed hair. Their tail and faces have much shorter fur than the rest of their bodies.

WIth their long ears, they can suffer ear infections, especially if they spend a fair amount of time in water. Canine Hip Dysplasia is also seen in the breed.

Breed Details

  • Status: Common
  • Life Expectancy: 10 - 12 years
  • Weight: 20 - 29kg
  • Height: 20 - 23"
  • Rare: No

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