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Irish Water Spaniel

If there’s a rule that says spaniels hunt in the fields and only retrivers love leaps into water to grab a hunter’s downed fowl, someone forgot to tell the Irish Water Spaniel! His water-loving ancestors can be traced back to the 1100’s, making him one of the oldest pure-breds known…The Celtic people of Ireland prize their horses and dogs above all else. The Irish Water Spaniel was bred from many different spaniels, few of whom still exist today. He is the tallest and strongest of the spaniel breeds, with a hardy agility and very high energy level. His feet are long and wide, making him a powerful swimmer. His thick, curly coat and fluffy ears make him waterproof and able to withstand cold weather in the field. He was recognized by the AKC in 1895.

In temperament, the Irish Water Spaniel is very cheerful, gentle, with a great sense of humor; they’re often called the clowns of the canine world.  He can also be stubborn and independent but eager to please and willing to take on any task. He’s not as affectionate as other sporting dogs, but is devoted to his family. He likes playing with children, the more rowdy, the better! Yet he is wary with strangers and can be protective of his family.

This is a dog that has extreme exercise needs and mental stimulation. He is particularly not suited for apartment or big cities. But as a rural hunting and companion dog, he’s ideal — if you can keep up with him! That huge splash you just heard will be your Irish Water Spaniel taking a flying leap into your pond…or your swimming pool! This is a dog that cannot be separated from water.

Because of his lively wit and unlimited energy,  the Irish Water Spaniel is exceptionally easy to train. He’s always eager to fine-tune his fowl-hunting skills and he excels in basic and advanced obedience training. Although he is rarely seen in America outside show rings, you may find him at obedience, agility, field and water retrieving trials. In the UK he is often used as a search and rescue dog.

The Irish Water Spaniel’s primary health issue is hip dysplasia. Rare cases of seizures and ear infections have been seen. Note: this dog can have have serious adverse reactions to sulfa drugs and ivermectin, an antibiotic.

This dog’s handsome curly coat, proud carriage and constantly waving tail are eye-catching for people who live in the country and can provide him with water games and lots of space to run at top speed. As a gun dog, he will retrieve downed fowl undaunted by rain or snow. After the hunt, he’ll be resting in the house, waiting for the next day’s fun!

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