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Irish Water Spaniel

The tallest and possibly the most striking looking of all the spaniels, the Irish Water Spaniel has an unusual luxuriant curly coat that comes in a rich dark liver shade with almost a hint of purple to it.  A smart, compact dog, they are strong, tall and athletic.

10-12 years
53-58cm for males and 51-56cm for females
Dark liver shade with hints of purple
UK Kennel Club Groups
The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breeds

The Irish Water Spaniel can suffer from:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- Elbow dysplasia screening scheme


The Irish Water Spaniel is really a versatile gundog able to retrieve flush and hunt. Excellent at work whether the job is traditional gundog work or field trial competition, they are also a fun and affectionate pet at home. Aloof and standoffish with strangers, they are even-tempered and confident once mature and make friends with relative ease. As puppies they can be sensitive and slow to mature, and so care must be taken not to overwhelm them.

Vet Rating

History and Origins

Ideal Owner

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Irish Water Spaniels

Training Irish Water Spaniels

Suitability for Family Life

Did You Know?

  • The actor Geena Davis owns an Irish Water Spaniel, and it is via her dog that she met her husband. He got in touch with her to let her know her dog had bitten him when he visited a mutual friend’s home where the dog was staying at the time. The dog was obviously forgiven though as not long after they got married!
  • Geena Davis has another Irish Water Spaniel connection, in the film The Long Kiss Goodnight, starring Geena and Samuel L. Jackson, an unnamed Irish Water Spaniel has a 30 second cameo!
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