15 Incredible Facts About Irish Water Spaniel

Written by: Kristina Lalovic
Irish Water Spaniel is an intelligent dog of outstanding swimming skills and a mischievous, loving personality. These dogs don't shed a lot which makes them a quite neat dog to own, however, they might not be suitable for apartment living. So, is this dog a good choice for you? What are some main traits you should consider before getting one? Read on and discover.

Thanks to its magnificent, curly coat, Irish Water Spaniel is often mistaken for a large poodle, but this dog is actually a completely different breed, or partially different. Although their hair is what makes people confuse them with Poodles, there are actually different reasons why Poodles and Irish Water Spaniels are so similar.

We will get back to that later, but let’s learn more about this intelligent, energetic breed. Do they make a dog suitable for families? Can they guard their homes as good as other guard dogs? Do they get along with young children? These are all questions one asks himself before getting a dog, and we’re answering them all in this article. We want you to be sure you will be the right kind of owner for your Irish Water Spaniel. So, are you ready to fall in love with this incredible dog? Then, let’s start!

1. Irish Water Spaniels Need Regular Brushing

If you’re not disciplined enough to groom and brush a dog 2 to 3 times a week, then it might be wiser to consider getting a dog of a coat type that demands less maintenance. In the case of the beautiful Irish Water Spaniel, it will be necessary to brush thoroughly his coat at least three times a week.

When their coat is not given enough attention, they tend to form mats that can become very irritating and potentially lead to skin problems. They have natural oils that protect their skin and make their coat almost completely water-repellent. These same oils can attract dirt and debris in the coat and, if a mat forms above dirt and debris, it is a clear recipe for skin irritation. Brush your Irish Water Spaniels often, and there will be no excessive itchy skin!

2. Irish Water Spaniels Are Great Guard Dogs

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Looking for a good watchdog for your home, but don’t want to have a dog of a fearful stance and appearance? Then this fluffy, large dog is the perfect one for you. They are mostly quiet dogs that won’t bark if there’s no reason for it. This trait of theirs is exactly why they are great at being guard dogs as well.

Thanks to his curious temperament and everlasting alertness, Irish Water Spaniels will never let you down as guard dogs. So, if you need a good watchdog that won’t really scare off young children, Irish Water Spaniel is the way to go.

3. They Might Be Related To Poodles

Although Irish Water Spaniel is not a poodle, they might be related to poodles. Their ancestry might go back to a time when Poodles were used for breeding Irish Water Spaniels, so it is not so mistaken to say these two breeds look alike.

However, there seem to be much more similarities between them that go beyond their curly coat. For instance, Poodles were used in hunting as retrieving dogs. They were also impressively good at pointing, which can also be said for Irish Water Spaniels. These dogs have outstanding swimming skills and are great companions for hunting. Hunters that need a water retrieving dog will almost never change their Irish Water Spaniel with another dog. They are super intelligent and can move easily through the water.

4. Irish Water Spaniels Are Great Entertainers

Although you might not expect it from a dog that looks so gracious, Irish Water Spaniels can be real clowns. They enjoy playing games when they are young puppies, but they tend to maintain their mischievous behavior even at an older age. You will be surprised with how Irish Water Spaniels are actually creative when it comes to games.

They are capable of making a game out of any other regular task. He will most likely never be bored by himself, as long as you ensure you have a sufficient amount of toys left around.

5. Irish Water Spaniels Have Webbed Feet

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If you were wondering what makes Irish Water Spaniels such a great swimming dog, the right answer is – their webbed feet. Needless to say, these webs help Irish Water Spaniels to swim with ease. Therefore, if you’re close by a lake, river or sea, be aware that your Irish Water Dog might simply plunge inside and go for a long swim. You will be surprised how much they will enjoy swimming, and you probably won’t be able to keep up with him.

However, if you want to make sure your Irish Water Spaniel is a happy one, always do your best to provide him with enough opportunities to jump into the water and swim.

6. Irish Water Spaniels Are Easy To Train

Their retrieving skills have instilled in Irish Water Spaniels a will to please their owners. Thanks to this and their intelligence, these dogs are quite easy to train. Your Irish Water dog will show you how easy it is for him to pick up anything that you teach him. However, be aware that they might be super focused in one moment, and get mischievous in another.

When the curiosity kicks in, they might not be the perfectly trained dog you just saw a moment ago, however, embrace their loving and funny personality, and find a way to show them when it is not the right time to roam around and get distracted.

7. They Make Perfect Companions For Outdoorsy People

If you’re an active person that loves to spend time outdoor training and exercising, Irish Water Spaniel is the right choice for you. Being bred as a hunter companion, these dogs enjoy spending time in the forests, waters, or anywhere in nature. So, if you are thinking about getting yourself one Irish water dog, then know that he will require a significant amount of exercise time.

This means that an Irish Water Spaniel won’t settle with just a short, on-leash walk in the park, but that he will rather require a more dynamic walk where he could freely run and roam around. Due to their obedient personality, recall training while your dog is off-leash shouldn’t be a hard thing to do. Therefore, do not choose this breed if you don’t have enough time to dedicate to his physical activities, because otherwise he could develop some sort of common behavior issues. The best match for an Irish Water Spaniel is a person who already loves outdoor activities.

8. They Are Not The Best Choice For First Time Owners

All Spaniels tend to be quite alert and curious towards whatever is going on around them, and the same is true for the Irish Water Spaniel. While that usually isn’t a big problem, it can become one when it comes to training. It may be harder for inquisitive dogs to focus on the training sessions and listen at first.

Irish Water Spaniels come with several contradictions. For instance, they are an easily trainable breed, but they can also be quite stubborn too. How is it possible? Well due to their pleasing nature, they will enjoy obeying your commands and being a good boy, but on the other hand, they will also be quite straightforward when there’s something that caught their interest in the surrounding. They are independent thinkers that might want to test who is more dominant in the household (especially if you have a male IWS).

This is why Irish Water Spaniel isn’t considered a good choice for first-time owners, because you need a little bit of experience in order to show your dog who is the leader of the pack. If you believe you have that capability despite not owning dogs before, then go for it, and keep in mind your guidance and discipline are crucial in order to be a good, trusting dog owner.

9. The Exact Breeding History Of Irish Water Spaniel Is Still A Mystery

Although some traces of Poodle genes might be evident when it comes to the genetic heritage Irish Water Spaniels have, it is still quite unknown which breeds were used in order to achieve a dog of such good traits. We may not know the real breed mixture that is responsible for how Irish Water Spaniel looks like today, but we know where the breed came from.

Apparently, the breed appeared in Ireland around the 1830s in a kennel that belonged to a man called Justin McCarthy. McCarthy’s dog “Boatswain” whelped in 1834 which is the year taken for the birth year of the modern breed. Some people speculated for years over what could be the secret to this incredible breed, what is this gene mixture they have? Sadly, Mr. Justin McCarthy didn’t want to reveal the sources of his litter and kept the secret of the Irish Water Spaniels’ genes until the end of his life.

However, some scientists believe that this gracious breed could have genes from Poodle-type dogs that came to Ireland from France, and Portuguese Water Dogs that arrived to Ireland on fishing boats.

10. Irish Water Spaniel Is Not Suited To Apartment Life

Irish Water Spaniel has high stamina and a lot of energy, which is why you should only consider getting one if you live in a property with a backyard (possibly large backyard). He will need a lot of outdoor time in order to feel happy and healthy. So, living in an apartment isn’t quite the ideal life an Irish Water Spaniel would love to lead.

If you want to have a well-behaved dog that doesn’t develop any behavioral issues, then it is crucial to take his exercise requirements seriously. Therefore, if you live in an apartment or in a house with a small yard, you might better think about getting a lower activity breed that might better suit your lifestyle. For instance, French Bulldogs or Pugs are a good choice for people that don’t have access to large yards.

However, be aware that not every dog is the same, and that the amount of exercise depends not only on the dog breed but also on your dog’s age, sex, overall activity level as well as his health condition.

11. Irish Water Spaniels Love To Play Games

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If we didn’t make it quite obvious so far, but Irish Water Spaniels have such a personality that they will stay interested in games until they are very old. Playing fetch, throwing frisbee, running and chasing, will be constant activities with an Irish Water dog.

However, don’t stop there! Provide your Irish Water dog with other toys too and he will surprise you with how long he will be able to entertain himself with different chewing or interactive toys. This is where his independent spirit meets his curious temperament – all in all, a perfect recipe for a dog that doesn’t need you to have all your attention reserved for him.

12. Irish Water Spaniel Is The Tallest Member Of The Spaniel Family

Spaniel dogs are gun dogs. They were bred to accompany hunters and retrieve shot down waterfowl. There are water and land breeds of Spaniels and each o the breeds had its specific role in hunting. Some helped in pointing, others where springing and others were simply retrieving.

The most common Spaniel breeds are American Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Papillon, and so on. Out of all Spaniel dog breeds, Irish Water Spaniel seems to be the tallest one. Males can be from 22 to 24 inches tall and have a weight of 55 to 65 pounds, while female Irish Water dogs can be 21 to 23 inches tall with a weight of 45 to 60 pounds.

13. They Can Be Prone To Certain Health Disorders

Irish Water Dogs are a generally healthy breed, but just like other dogs, they might have a genetic predisposition towards certain disorders, rather than others. This doesn’t have to mean your Irish Water Spaniel will surely develop some of these, he might develop some, he might not develop any at all, but it is important to know what are the most common health disorders in these breeds so that you can monitor eventual changes on time.

If you have an Irish Water Spaniel, you should regularly check your dog for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, follicular dysplasia, thrombopenia, eye problems such as cataracts.

14. They Have Low-Shedding Hair

Irish Water Dogs come with a great low-shedding coat. This is a feature that also Poodles, Doodle dogs (crossbred Poodles such as Labradoodles or Sheepadoodles) and other low-shedding dogs have. While this is a great feature that relieves a lot of dog owners with minor or moderate allergies on dog hair, it shouldn’t still be considered as completely hypoallergenic. If there’s someone in the household that has a severe allergy to dogs, then no-shedding coat property in a dog won’t be enough to create a completely safe environment.

However, having a dog that doesn’t shed a lot comes with multiple benefits. You won’t have to clean a lot after your dog. If you bring your pup with you, he won’t leave tons of hair everywhere that might be embarrassing if you are visiting a friend or going to a dog-friendly bar. However, there is one thing to keep in mind when choosing a dog of low-shedding coat – these dogs need more grooming than other dogs. Because their hair doesn’t fall off in the same manner, it is crucial to brush off their dead hair on a regular basis and prevent their coat from matting.

15. They Can Do Well With Young Children And Other Animals When Socialized On Time

These dogs can do great with children when they are raised with them. The earlier you start socializing your puppy to different people, sights, sounds and surroundings, the better your dog will adapt to different situations. The same is true for kids.

If you get your dog to interact as a puppy with small kids, you will probably get a dog that knows how to behave around them. However, it is important to monitor the situation and prevent any accidents from happening. Note that both dogs and kids can get a bit too rough when they play, so it is crucial to stay fair and establish rules that can’t be broken.

When it comes to other pets and small animals, there is a chance that an Irish Water Dog might see them as prey (especially birds). So it wouldn’t be advisable to leave other small animals unsupervised in the presence of a Spaniel, hunting dog. Unless your dog is completely used to other pets and small animals since the early puppyhood, your Irish Water Spaniel might be a real threat to smaller friendly creatures.