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Irish Water Spaniel

Group: Gundogs (Group 3)
Club: Victorian Gundog Club Inc (Group 3)
Contact: Ms Leanne Tormey
Phone: 0421 358 301

Brief History

The exact origin of this breed is shrouded in the mists of Ireland. The Irish Water Spaniel which appeared in the 1830’s is thought to have been developed from two earlier strains, the South County and the North County Water Spaniel. The Irish Water Spaniel we know today most closely resembles the South County type.

Average Life Span

When considering a dog, please realise that you are taking it on for its lifetime.

The average life span is 10 to 15 years.


The Irish Water Spaniel is very alert, inquisitive, and active. Steady in temperament, with an endearing sense of humour, he is often referred to as the clown of the dog world. He may be reserved with strangers but never shy. The breed is known for its playful disposition and trainability.

General Breed Description

This is a medium size dog, strongly built and compact. Not surprisingly, given his name, the Irish Water Spaniel is known for his strong swimming skills and excels at retrieving waterfowl, as well as non-water birds such as quail. As well as a good hunting companion, he can be a successful competitor in various dog sports such as Obedience, Agility, Rally, Flyball, Dock Diving and Conformation dog shows.

He has a distinctive liver-coloured (reddish-brown) curly coat forming tight ringlets that cover everything except his face. The hair forms a characteristic topknot that falls over the top of its head and ears. The root of the tail is covered by close curls which stop abruptly, with the remainder being bare or covered by short, straight, fine hairs.

Coat and Care Requirements

The coat sheds water and protects the dog in cold weather and when swimming.

The Irish Water Spaniel's dense coat does require some commitment to grooming. He must be brushed and combed once or twice a week to prevent mats from forming, or be seen by a professional groomer every 4 to 6 weeks.


Height: Males 53 to 58cms (21 to 23ins), Females 51 to 56cms (20 to 22ins).

Weight: Males 25 to 30kgs, Females Weight 20 to 25kgs.


All breeds have individual health issues. When speaking to breeders it is recommended you enquire about the breed’s health and what health testing the breeder does. The Irish Water Spaniel is generally a healthy breed; however, health conditions do occur occasionally. These may include Hip Dysplasia (HD) and Elbow Dysplasia, Thyroid Disease and Allergies. The Irish Water Spaniel can have life-threatening reaction to Sulpha Drugs, Ivermectin and vaccines especially the Leptospirosis component.


The Irish Water Spaniel can be the perfect companion for an active family. With socialisation, training, and daily exercise, he will adapt to any environment from a house block to acreage. He will be a devoted, loving member of the family and will entertain all with his clownish and mischievous attitude toward life. Your Irish Water Spaniel will happily join you in any activity or just be a friend and loving companion for everyone in the family.

In Conclusion

Now you know a little more about this breed. If you have decided this is the dog for you and wish to investigate further, please contact the Breed Club or Dogs Victoria. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog events where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the breed and its needs. With any breed of dog, it is important to research and determine suitability for your lifestyle before committing to a puppy which will be a part of your family for many years to come.

Whilst many breeds are recommended for families, it is imperative that when children are with dogs they are supervised at all times. Basic obedience training is a vital part of dog ownership.

Dogs Victoria is about the responsible ownership of all dogs and in particular the preservation of pure breeds.

Link to ANKC Breed Standard:

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