Adopting An Irish Water Spaniel

History and origin: This is an old breed, developed in Ireland from several spaniel breeds toward the end of the 19th century.  The Irish Water Spaniel, though capable of flushing birds like other spaniels, was actually bred to excel as a water retriever.

Description: The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the spaniels, standing between 21 and 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing 45 to 65 pounds.  He has a strong physique and a dense, curly, water-resistant coat with minimal shedding.  Daily brushing and weekly combing is required, as well as periodic clipping.  This agile breed is known for his topknot of curls and his rat-like tail. The coat is liver-colored.

About the breed: The Irish Water Spaniel is an excellent water dog and retriever.  He is beautiful, loyal, brave, and intelligent.  He is also a very active and precocious dog.  The Irish Water Spaniel is curious and expressive, active, somewhat stubborn, and independent.  He is very affectionate and loving toward his owner, though he is suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive toward other dogs.  Irish Water Spaniels tend to be very good watch dogs. Socialization and obedience training need to begin at an early age.  This breed loves to work and needs to be given some duties to do, whether it is field work, tracking, obedience, or agility.  He does not exhibit the possessive aggressive problems seen in some other spaniels. Irish Water Spaniels can be susceptible to hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.

Feeding: Recommended feeding for the Irish Water Spaniel is 1-1 ½ cans (13.3oz) of high quality meaty product with biscuit added in equal parts or 3 cupfuls of a complete, dry food.

Ideal home: A house with a fenced yard is preferable, though he can adapt to apartment living as long as he is given plenty of exercise.  These dogs need strong leadership from early on, otherwise, they will walk all over a spoiling, weak leader.  They should be socialized with people and dogs from puppy hood.  The Irish Water Spaniel is usually safe with children, provided no roughhousing occurs.  This is a breed that needs to be given something to do or he will become restless.  The elderly and the disabled might have trouble keeping up with this active breed.