A gorgeous brown spaniel, with curly hair, lies on a bed

Irish Water Spaniel

19 October 2023

Considering bringing home a new family member? The gorgeous Irish Water Spaniel can be a great choice!

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Let’s talk about… Irish Water Spaniels: what are they?

  • The Irish Water Spaniel is a unique and distinct breed known for its curly and water-repellent coat.
  • They are believed to have originated in Ireland and were traditionally used as hunting and retrieving dogs, particularly for waterfowl.
  • The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest and rarest of the spaniel breeds. Its distinctive coat and impressive swimming ability make it a remarkable breed among water-loving dogs.
  • Irish Water Spaniels have a medium to large build, with males standing at an average height of 53 to 58 cm and females slightly smaller at 51 to 56 cm.
  • They typically weigh between 25 to 31 kg.
  • Irish Water Spaniels have a life expectancy of around 10 to 12 years.
Irish Water Spaniel  Exercise needs 4/5; Grooming ease 3/5; Trainability 4/5

What is the temperament of Irish Water Spaniels like?

  • Irish Water Spaniels are known for their intelligent, lively, and independent nature.
  • They are loyal and affectionate towards their families and can be gentle and patient with children.
  • While they can be reserved with strangers, they are generally good-natured and enjoy human companionship.
  • Irish Water Spaniels require early socialisation to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded and well-behaved dogs.
  • Training and mental stimulation are important to keep their active minds occupied and prevent boredom.

How much exercise do Irish Water Spaniels need?

  • Irish Water Spaniels are an active and energetic breed that requires a substantial amount of exercise. They thrive on physical activities and mental stimulation.
  • Ideally, they should receive at least 1 to 2 hours of exercise every day. This exercise should include a mix of brisk walks, jogging, swimming, and interactive play sessions.
  • Engaging them in activities that tap into their natural instincts, such as retrieving games or scent work, can be highly beneficial.
  • Providing them with opportunities to explore new environments and interact with other dogs can also contribute to their well-being.
  • When it comes to Irish Water Spaniel puppies, exercise should be approached with caution.
  • Their growing bodies are more vulnerable to injury, so excessive exercise should be avoided.
  • Short and controlled play sessions in a safe and secure area, as well as moderate walks, are suitable for young puppies.
  • As they mature and their joints develop, exercise intensity and duration can gradually increase.
  • Consult with your veterinarian for specific exercise guidelines tailored to your puppy's age and individual needs.

Do Irish Water Spaniels need a lot of grooming?

  • Irish Water Spaniels have a unique curly coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free from mats.
  • They have dense, tight ringlets that provide protection when in water.
  • Grooming involves brushing their coat at least once or twice a week to prevent tangles and matting.
  • Regular bathing may also be required  to keep their coat and skin clean.
  • Trimming the hair around their ears, paws, and tail is important for hygiene and tidiness - a professional groomer can assist.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Cúna, the Irish Water Spaniel

Are Irish Water Spaniels easy to train?

  • Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent dogs that are generally eager to please their owners.
  • They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, including praise, treats, and play.
  • Consistency, patience, and positive motivation are key to training them effectively. Irish Water Spaniels can be independent thinkers at times, so it's important to be confident.
  • Training sessions should be engaging and varied to keep them interested and prevent boredom.
  • Early socialisation and basic obedience training should be initiated from a young age to shape them into well-behaved and well-mannered dogs.
Osmond, the Irish Water Spaniel

What do Irish Water Spaniels eat?

  • Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of Irish Water Spaniels.
  • A balanced and high-quality diet that meets their specific nutritional needs is recommended to be fed twice daily.
  • For Irish Water Spaniel puppies, it's important to provide them with a specially formulated puppy food that supports their growth and development.
  • In general you should feed your puppy 3-4 times daily until they are 6 months old, then reduce to twice daily.
  • As Irish Water Spaniels transition into adulthood, usually around 12 months old, they can be fed a high-quality adult dog food that is suitable for their size, activity level, and overall health.
  • Consult with your vet to determine the appropriate diet for your Irish Water Spaniel.
Cúna, the Irish Water Spaniel

Are Irish Water Spaniels healthy?

Irish Water Spaniels are generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they may be susceptible to certain health conditions. Some potential health concerns to be aware of in Irish Water Spaniels include:

Bones and Joints

  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis


  • Distichiasis - abnormally growing eyelashes which can grow into the eye and can cause pain and damage to the eye’s surface.


  • Hypothyroidism - a condition where your dog does not produce enough thyroid hormone


  • Ear infections - the ear canal, and sometimes the ears flaps have an overgrowth of bacteria, yeast etc. which can cause signs including irritation,  inflammation, smell and thickening of the ear canal tissue

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have any concerns about the health of your dog or if you want to discuss further if an Irish Water Spaniel is right for you, consult with your vet.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Irish Water Spaniels

BorrowMyDoggy has 63 Irish Water Spaniel members

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

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