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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Irish Water Spaniel


Irish Water Spaniel Facts

  • Group
  • Sporting
  • Affiliations
  • AKC, UKC
  • Height
  • 21" - 24"
  • Weight
  • 45-65 lbs.
  • Lifespan
  • 12 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • Moderate - This breed enjoys typical daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Average Training Time
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Difficult
  • Colors
    • Brown
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Good with children
    • Hunting heritage
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

Rat tail spaniel, Rat tails, Whip tail, Parti colored setter


This breed originated in Ireland.

Date Of Origin

The Irish water spaniel developed in 1859.


The Irish water spaniel is descended from ancient water spaniels. The breed was developed in the 1850's from the South Country water spaniel and the North Country water spaniel. The Irish water spaniel was recognized as a distinct breed in 1859. The dog was imported into the U.S. in the 1870's.


This is a medium sized, muscular, slightly rectangular dog. It has long drop ears, a long muzzle, and a strong head. The eyes are dark hazel. There is a smooth rat tail, a deep chest, and large, wide feet. The coat is soft and curly or wavy. There are a few inches of curls at the bottom of the tail and the feet are well furnished. The coat is shortest at the face, tail and throat, with a curly topknot at the top of the head.


The Irish water spaniel is active, intense, intelligent and bold. It can be reserved and may be shy or sharp with strangers and new situations.


This breed loves the water and is therefore used for hunting ducks in marshes and lakes. It is rare as a companion dog.

Health Concerns

Food allergies, hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroid problems, sensitive to sulfa drugs.

Additional Information

This breed requires frequent professional grooming and an owner that is able to brush it daily. If the coat is not brushed, it will quickly mat.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com

Author: Bruce Fogle

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