Spaniel (Irish Water) illustration
Gundog

Spaniel (Irish Water)

Curly coated swimmer used as a water retriever

Breed characteristics

Size
Medium
Exercise
More than 2 hours per day
Size of home
Large house
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Medium
Sheds
No
Lifespan
Over 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
Yes
Town or country
Country
Size of garden
Large garden

About this breed

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.

Read the breed standard

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
  • Liver Puce

Other colour/s

'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 colours

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.

Health

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 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 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.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Irish Water Spaniel.

Breed watch

Category 1

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.

Read more about Breed Watch

Breeding restrictions

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.

More information

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