The Irish Water Spaniel is active, intelligent, affectionate and hard-working. Irish Water Spaniels are devoted to their family but their exuberance may be too much for small children or the elderly. They are watchful of strangers but get on well with children and other household pets, so long as they were socailized early on. Irish Water Spaniels can have a mind of their own and are intelligent and cunning. They need training from an early age with a handler that is consistent and firm. The Irish Water Spaniel is a lively, cheerful character and they are often called the clown of the spaniel family.
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Irish Water Spaniels shouldn't be groomed too often as their coat becomes fluffy. After they have been brushed thoroughly they should be washed or allowed to go for a swim to put the curl back in the coat. The coat will probably need trimming occasionally to keep it looking tidy. The bonus with Irish Water Spaniels is that they don't shed their hair, instead their loose hairs are brushed out.
The Irish Water Spaniel loves retrieving and swimming and has a high level of stamina. They need regular exercise to satisfy their energetic nature.
Irish Water Spaniels are moderate eaters and aren't greedy with their food.
Archaeologists have traced this breed back to the 7th or 8th century, when Roman ruins displayed carvings of dogs resembling the Irish Water Spaniel. In the late 1100s, dogs in the River Shannon area were known as Shannon Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels, Rat Tail or Whip Tail Spaniels. It was recorded that one of these dogs was sent to the King of France in 1598. Pedigrees go back to the 1840s and by 1866 these spaniels were being exhibited in England.
General Appearance: Strongly built, compact and eager.
Color: Dark liver with a purple tint.
Coat: Dense with tight, crisp ringlets that are naturally oily.
Tail: Low set, tapering, short, straight and covered in tight curls on the first third and the remainder is bare. Resembles a rat tail or a whip.
Ears: Set low, lobular, long, hanging and covered in tight curls.
Body: The back and ribs are carried well back from the shoulder, giving a barrel-shaped look. The back is short, wide and level and the chest is deep but not too wide.
- The Irish Spaniel is adaptable to either being a household companion or a working dog, doing hunting on land or water.
- The curly topknot of hair and the rat-like tail are two distinctive characteristics of the Irish Water Spaniel.