Newsletter Signup
Choosing & Caring for a Dog
Kids & Dogs
Great Dogs
Contact Us
Your Breed "Enjoy the great DigitalDog QuickTip courtesy of DigitalDog and"

Irish Water Spaniel

While the history of the breed offers some clues to the complex personality of the Irish Water Spaniel, the essence is that the IWS was created by the Irish with all the bluster and dry humor and cleverness that entails. Additionally, the breed is a WATER Spaniel, which is the old title for Retriever.  Do not expect this dog to be like a big land spaniel.  Athletic, suspicious of strangers (and only after heavy socialization) the IWS is NOT for someone who would like a Lab but wants something a bit more unusual.

By Breed Name
By Breed Name
General Information
Group(s): SportingRetriever Height: 20-24 inches
Weight: 50-70 pounds Longevity: 12 years
Colors: Liver Coat type: Long crisp curls with uniquely smooth face, tail and throatlatch in proper specimens
Recognized Registries: AKC and others
Overall Appearance: Powerful and energetic the IWS is not a breed of shine or glamour. In the late 1800s when it numbered 3 in the most popular breeds of the AKC it was an age of those interested in dogs for their performance. This is a dog that enjoys activity and work. Don't let the curls fool you, he's a devoted companion and intelligent participant in any activity you might offer.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: medium to high
General Nature: good
  with Children: can vary, socialization is critical
  with other pets: can vary, socialization is critical
  with dogs: can vary, socialization is critical
Socialization requirements: HIGH
Ideal home characteristics: somewhat dog focused with interests that the dog can participate in
Temperament Notes: socialize heavily when young, create established obedience and routines
Training requirement: moderate
Trainer notes: For the trainer interested in a dog that can be responsive and attentive and enthusiastic, the Irish Water Spaniel is a fabulous choice.  For the trainer, that wants to work with the most stubborn, difficult and wilful of dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel can also be a clear choice.  Like many dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel is born a clean slate with a personality that strives to be agreeable, clever and playful.  The guidance and shaping received at the hands of it's family will determine the outcome.  Of course, unlike most people, IWS (as most dogs) are totally forgiving so removed from homes that do not capitalize on this nature and placed in a home that allows for more trust, confidence and encouragement, the IWS can still emerge as the dog he/she was meant to be.  Definitely a breed that is literally, what you make it.  Probably not very well suited for the first time dog owner if only due to their ability to learn very quickly and often when the people don't realize they are training.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: 1865
Country of Origin: Ireland
Original Function: Gundog, Retriever
History: Justin McArthy is credited with establishing the breed. Certainly he seems to have done the most to establish type but additional evidence indicates that the breed (and slight variations of it) were in Western Europe for hundreds of years before.
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard: bare spots on rear, some white, smooth patches coated, yellow eyes, snipey heads, outside of standard
Health Notes: hip dysplasia, eyes, seizures, hypothyroidism
Health Testing: OFA or Penn Hip, CERF, thryoid panel
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!
  • How long have you had Irish Water Spaniels?
  • Why do you have Irish Water Spaniels (show, performance, hunting, etc.)?
  • What do you consider to be the most important single characteristic of an Irish Water Spaniel?
  • What health issues have you seen in the breed?
  • What criteria do you set for your breeding stock?
  • Do you plan to keep a puppy from this litter?
  • How often do you have puppies?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • At what age do you send your pups to their homes?
  • How would you describe the ideal Irish Water Spaniel?
  • How would you describe the ideal Irish Water Spaniel home?
  • Are your puppies whelped in your home?
  • What advice would you offer someone in raising and training an Irish Water Spaniel?
  • How do you assist or help Irish Water Spaniels in need of rescue?
  • Web Sites: - Rescue Contacts with the IWSCA

    Other Resources
    Breed standard: - Standard as per the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America

    Breeder Ethics:

    The closest thing to a Code of Ethics offered by the IWSCA is the criteria for inclusion in the Breeder's Directory which as you can see below, comes far short of the mark.

    Breeder's Directory Criteria:

    A person listed on the Breeder's Directory must have been an Irish Water Spaniel Club of America member for at least five years.

    A person listed on the Directory must have attended at least one IWSCA National Specialty Show.

    Breeding stock of a person listed on the Directory must have passed OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification on both hips (Fair, Good or Excellent).

    Breeding stock of a person listed on the Directory must have undergone full Michigan State University or equivalent thyroid testing and the results of those tests must be made available upon request.

    A person listed on the Directory must have put at least two titles on Irish Water Spaniels, at least one of which must be a conformation /breed championship.

    A person listed on the Directory must be willing to take back a dog of their breeding at any time in the life of that animal.

    A person listed on the Directory understands that the IWSCA recommends that all puppies be microchipped /tattooed before being placed in their new homes and to remain a contact for each microchip /tattoo.

    The 2004 fee for being listed on the Directory is $50.00. The balance of those fees collected, after printing and mailing costs, will be donated to the IWSCA Rescue Fund.

    Customize Site
    Enter Dog's Name:


    About Us | Contact Us | Advertising Opportunities | Privacy Policy

    © 2004
    All rights reserved