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Irish Water Spaniel – Dog Breed Guide

Breed summary

Size: Medium
Weight: 45 - 65 pounds
Height: 20 - 23 inches
Longevity: 12
Bark Tendency: Low
Aggression: Medium
Compatibility to other pets: Low

Adopt an Irish Water Spaniel, Dog Breed Guide


Irish Water Spaniel is considered as one of the ancient and oldest of the water spaniel family, Irish Water Spaniels are also one of the rarest dogs in the world today.

Official Name

Irish Water Spaniel
Other Name:
Rat Tail Spaniels
Rat Tails
Whip Tails


Date – 17th to 18th Century
Country – Ireland
Family / Group – Gun Dog, Sporting

Recognized By

American Pet Registry, Inc.
Australian National Kennel Club
Fédération Cynologique Internationale
American Kennel Club
New Zealand Kennel Club,
United Kennel Club
Kennel Club of Great Britain
Continental Kennel Club
National Kennel Club
Dog Registry of America, Inc.
North American Purebred Registry, Inc.


The Irish Water Spaniels are dogs that can trace their ancestry to the ancient water spaniels of Europe. As a purebred, these spaniels were developed during the 1850s in Dublin, Ireland. Records show that the pioneer breeder was a certain Justin McCarthy. He created the Irish Water Spaniel by crossing dogs belonging to the South Country water spaniel lineage with the North Counter water spaniel lines. Officially, this dog breed was recognized as a purebred in 1859. 12 years later, the breed reached the United States and became popular for being impressive duck hunters.


The Irish Water Spaniel is loved for being intelligent, intense, very active and very bold while at work. When strangers are around or if faced with a non-familiar situation, these dogs will be reserved and will either be very shy or very sharp and wary

Bred For

The Irish Water Spaniel was used as dual-purpose hunting dogs, working both land and water.


The Irish Water Spaniels are not that great to keep an apartment type of dogs. These are spaniels that need plenty of daily exercises. Naturally, they love outdoors and just adores the water. IWS are dogs that will do best in the suburbs or the country. They will thrive in homes that have at least an average sized yard.


Irish Water Spaniels have coats that require grooming attention on a regular basis. Trimming should be done as well as weekly combing to keep their coats clean and manageable. These spaniel dogs will shed hair in very little amounts. Some IWS dogs are also known to not shed.


Training an Irish Water Spaniel should not be that complicated. They do need an entire lifetime of socialization.


Like most spaniel dog breeds, the Irish Water Spaniel is known to be at higher risk in developing hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism. Medical issues such as eye entropion and ear infections are also common to these Irish dogs.


Irish Water Spaniel dogs are primarily hunting dogs that are jam-packed with remarkable stamina. They require a day after day-long walks that is done briskly. Having these dogs jog or run alongside their owners will help maintain these dogs’ well-balanced state.