The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest spaniel breeds, originating in Ireland in the 1830s. Its ancestors likely include the now-extinct Southern and Northern Water Spaniels, along with the Poodle and Irish Setter. The breed was developed for water retrieval, particularly in marshes and lakes, making them excellent water dogs and retrievers. The Irish Water Spaniel has a unique curly, water-resistant, and dense double coat. The coat consists of tight ringlets on the body, except for the face and tail, which have smooth, shorter hair. The coat is typically liver-colored (a rich reddish-brown), and it doesn't shed much, making it somewhat hypoallergenic.
Irish Water Spaniels can suffer from Factor VII deficiency, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration. They may have adverse reactions to sulfa antibiotics and to ivermectin. As for all breeds, genetic screening for hereditary conditions is recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent, affectionate, and energetic dogs. They are known for their strong hunting instincts and remarkable swimming abilities. They are loyal to their families and can be excellent with children. Early socialization and training are crucial to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted and obedient pets. This breed thrives in an active environment where they can get plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
The Irish Water Spaniel is sometimes called the "IWS" for short. In the late 11th century, the breed was known as Shannon Spaniel, Rat Tail Spaniel, or Whip Tail Spaniel.
It's believed that the Irish Water Spaniel was a favorite of Irish nobility and sportsmen during the 1800s.
This breed's unique coat and appearance make it stand out among other spaniels and sporting breeds.
The Irish Water Spaniel was used extensively for hunting and retrieving game from water, earning it the nickname "Water Dog."