- More than 2 hours per day
- Size of home
- Large house
- More than once a week
- Coat length
- Under 10 years
- Vulnerable native breed
- Town or country
- Size of garden
- Large garden
The Irish breed club was founded in 1890 although liver coloured water dogs with curly coats, top knots and rat tails had been known for centuries before that date. One of the most influential dogs in Ireland, Boatswain, was born in 1834 and his bloodline can be found throughout the world. His breeder Mr Justin McCarthy was a pillar of the breed.
Although the breed is classified as a 'spaniel' he works as a retriever, particularly in retrieving from water. In the UK he runs in retriever trials.
Theories on the ancestry of the breed include the French Barbet, the English Water Spaniel (now extinct) and the Poodle, which was originally used as a water retrieving breed.
Images for this breed
The Gundog breed group
Dogs that were originally trained to find live game and/or to retrieve game that had been shot and wounded. This group is divided into four categories - Retrievers, Spaniels, Hunt/Point/Retrieve, Pointers and Setters - although many of the breeds are capable of doing the same work as the other sub-groups. They make good companions, their temperament making them ideal all-round family dogs.
Breed standard colours
Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.
Breed standard colours in this breed include:
- Liver Puce
'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.
Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.
Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.
More about health
Priority health schemes and tests
The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.
Important health schemes and tests
We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice.
Find out about a particular dog's results
Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.
You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.
Help with research
An ongoing group study of Irish Water Spaniels is being set up to look into the health of the breed. For the foreseeable future, this will be a rolling study open to all Irish Water Spaniels, regardless of their breeding and country of origin. Find out more about the ongoing study and how to participate.
Have any questions about health in your breed?
If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.
Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.
To contact your breed health co-ordinator please email
Currently no points of concern specific to this breed have been identified for special attention by judges, other than those covered routinely by The Kennel Club breed standard.
There are a number of The Kennel Club rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.
More about breeding
There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.
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Use our Find a Puppy service
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