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Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel Breed


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Dog Size

Energy Level

Dog Energy Level


Dog Trainability

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Physical Characteristics:
Height: 21-24”
Weight: 45-65 lbs.
Energy Level: High
The American Kennel Club recognizes the Irish Water Spaniel in the following color:

  • Liver

Health & Longevity

Average Life Span: 10-12 years
The majority of Irish Water Spaniels are healthy dogs, but some health issues may affect a small percentage of the breed.

Hip dysplasia, which occurs when a malformed hip joint does not allow the thighbone to fit properly into place, may result in limping, arthritis, or lameness in some Irish Water Spaniels. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred, so ensure that your puppy’s parents have no history of the condition. Although it is hereditary, the condition can be triggered by rapid weight gain or injury. Follicular dysplasia can also affect Irish Water Spaniels; these syndromes result in hair loss and changes in coat.

Irish Water Spaniels may also suffer from entropion, which causes the eyelid to roll inward, irritating the eye and potentially injuring the cornea. This can lead to decreased vision or blindness in some affected dogs. Cataracts are another eye problem that can potentially be experienced by Irish Water Spaniels.

Hypothyroidism, which results from insufficient hormone production by the thyroid gland, can lead to issues like obesity, infertility, lethargy, and hair loss. Fortunately, it can be treated, but treatment requires daily medication for the duration of the dog’s life. Irish Water Spaniels may also suffer from a condition called Megaesophagus, in which the esophagus dilates and leads to problems swallowing, as well as possible regurgitation of food.

Allergies and epilepsy may also impact some Irish Water Spaniels. Additionally, this breed is known to have sensitivity to vaccinations and some drugs, such as antibiotics. Be sure that your veterinarian is knowledgeable about Irish Water Spaniels and their unique needs.

On average, the Irish Water Spaniel has a lifespan of 10-12 years.

Temperament & Train-ability

The Irish Water Spaniel is intelligent, brave, and hardworking. He is also very playful, with a goofy sense of humor and a joyful approach to life. He is an independent thinker who can be willful at times, and he is an exuberant and active dog.

Apartment living is not recommended for this breed because they require a great deal of daily exercise. An hour to two hours of walking, running, or playing outdoors is crucial to the happiness and health of an Irish Water Spaniel, who is a versatile hunting, pointing, and retrieving dog. As the name suggests, he is known for his strong swimming skills and loves being in water. He is particularly expert at retrieving waterfowl, and he has unique webbed feet designed for this task. Be sure to clean and dry his ears thoroughly every time he goes swimming.

The Irish Water Spaniel is extremely loyal and loving to his entire family, although he may have a favorite family member. Although he adores his family, he can be reserved with strangers, and he should be properly socialized to prevent him from becoming overly timid. He can be aggressive towards unfamiliar dogs, and it’s best not to trust him with smaller pets unless he is raised with them. Pet birds, in particular, do not mix well with the Irish Water Spaniel. He does best with children if he is raised with them. If you bring the Irish Water Spaniel into a home with children, teach them how to approach and treat dogs properly. Because this breed can be exuberant and jump on people, it is best to keep them away from toddlers or young children unless closely supervised. The Irish Water Spaniel is extremely perceptive and sensitive to the emotions around him, so he should not live in a home with significant amounts of tension or arguing. He is a relatively quiet dog. Typically, he will only bark if trying to alert the family to perceived danger. He makes an excellent watchdog.

The Irish Water Spaniel is not recommended for first-time dog owners. Although they do have a strong desire to please, they are also fun-loving and can be mischievous. Additionally, young males may test their status in the “pack,” and attempt to assert dominance. They can be stubborn and willful. For these reasons, it can be somewhat challenging to train an Irish Water Spaniel. Be firm, clear, and consistent with your rules and expectations. Continue challenging this intelligent breed to prevent them from becoming bored and unmotivated. Use positive reinforcement like favorite treats, verbal praise, or fun activities like swimming. If properly trained, the Irish Water Spaniel can learn quickly and excel at performing new skills.


When it comes to grooming, the Irish Water Spaniel is somewhat high maintenance. He sheds little to no hair, but his coat does need to be brushed 2-3 times a week to keep it from matting. This breed also needs to be clipped and trimmed every few months. Bathe your Irish Water Spaniel as needed.

Brush his teeth 2-3 times weekly to prevent bad breath and maintain healthy gums. Check his ears regularly for signs of infection like tenderness, redness, or odor. Remember to always clean and dry his ears after swimming. Trim the Irish Water Spaniel’s nails as needed. His nails should not touch the floor, as this breed is most comfortable with shorter nails.


The average Irish Water Spaniel should eat 1.5-2.5 cups daily of high-quality dry dog food. The exact amount and type of food for your individual dog will depend on variables like activity level, metabolism, and age. This breed does have a tendency to gain weight quickly, so be sure to monitor his weight and prevent overeating.

Ensure that your dog always has access to clean, fresh drinking water.

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With only around 125 puppies registered in the United States each year, the Irish Water Spaniel can be hard to find, and you should be prepared to spend time on a breeder’s waiting list. On average, this breed costs about $800-$1,000.

Adopting is another option. Expect to spend up to $175 on adoption fees if you choose to go this route. You will likely have difficulties finding this dog in an adoption center.

Paws ‘N’ Pups Ranking

Paws ‘N’ Pups ranks every breed out of 4 with 1 being easiest to integrate into your life and 4 being the toughest – The lower the ranking the better.

Ranking takes into account a few basic factors including cost, skill level needed, high vs low maintenance and how critical regular training is to success. The Irish Water Spaniel ranks a 2.5. They are a healthy breed, although they do have some drug and vaccination sensitivity. They are loving, loyal, and protective companions who shed minimally and rarely bark. However, they have extensive exercise requirements and can be challenging to train, and their coats require a bit of maintenance.


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