He may look and act like a curly-coated clown, but the Irish Water Spaniel is a serious water retriever with excellent hunting skills. Given plenty of exercise and training, he can also be a wonderful family companion. Choose him if you enjoy running, hiking, water sports, or other activities that he can do with you. His coat is high maintenance but sheds little.
Although he’s called a spaniel, the Irish Water Spaniel is primarily a water retriever and has a fine reputation as a hunting dog among those in the know. The IWS is a fun and interesting dog, no doubt about it, but his high energy level and potential for health problems are factors to consider before acquiring one.
The IWS has a lot going for him: personality, trainability and a touchably soft coat. He’s smart, responsive and active. He’s a typical sporting dog in his love of family and people-pleasing nature. The IWS isn’t indiscriminate in his affection, though. He tends to be reserved around strangers and sometimes is downright shy or easily spooked. Early and frequent socialization is a must. A normal IWS should not be shy or aggressive.
Like most dogs, Irish Water Spaniels become bored when left to their own devices. They can easily become noisy or destructive if they don’t have other dogs to keep them company and don’t receive much attention from their people. A people-loving dog like the Irish Water Spaniel needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy IWS who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship. But when the IWS lives with a family who is willing to spend plenty of time training and exercising him, he thrives.
Other Quick Facts
Among the distinguishing characteristics of the IWS are a topknot of long, loose curls; the crisply curled, liver-colored coat; and the smooth “rat tail,” which is hairless except at the base where it is covered for two to three inches with curls.The face is entirely smooth and the feet are webbed between the toes.
When an Irish Water Spaniel’s feet are properly conditioned, the tough pads allow the dog to go over sharp saw grass or river rocks without injury.