General Information

Dog NameIrish Water Spaniel
Other NamesRat Tail Spaniel
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypeSpaniel
GroupSporting Group
Breed ForHunting, pointing, and retrieving game
Country of OriginIreland

Physical And Size

Min Life Span12
Max Life Span13
Min Ideal Weight for male24
Max Ideal Weight for male26
Min Ideal Weight for female20
Max Ideal Weight for male26


Intelligent Rank
Affection Level
Social Needs
Watchdog Ability


TemperamentHardworking, Playful, Courageous
Prey DriveYes
Fighting DogNo


Stranger FriendlyLow
Child FriendlyHigh
Cat FriendlyLow
Dog FriendlyLow
Office FriendlyLow
Apartment FriendlyMedium
Senior Citizens FriendlyMedium
Service DogMedium
Search and Rescue DogMedium
Biting PotentialLow
Country of OriginIreland
Nicknames and Other NamesWhiptail, Bog Dog, Shannon Spaniel,
Rat Tail Spaniel
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypePurebred
GroupGundogs, Sporting Group
Bred ForHunting, pointing and retrieving
Life Span12-13 years
Ideal WeightMale: 55-68 pounds
Female: 45-58 pounds
Ideal HeightMale: 22-24 inches
Female: 21-23 inches
Fur TypeDense, long curls
Common ColorsLiver
Suitable for ApartmentsNot very suitable
Used in World WarNo
Most Similar ToAmerican Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is a water retriever with excellent hunting skills. It may seem like a curly-coated quiet dog, but in fact, he knows his job and is very serious. They are devoted to their family and are always too eager to please them.

Irish Water Spaniel has striking looks and hunting talents which makes it an entertainer too. They are alert and inquisitive dogs that are often reserved with strangers. With their alert nature, they are excellent watchdogs.

Origin and History

The exact origin of the Irish Water Spaniel dog is unknown but it is said that the Irish Water Spaniel appeared in the 1830s in Ireland. It is most definitely not a poodle rather is described as what the standard  Poodle was: versatile hunting, pointing, and retrieving the dog.

The breed of Irish Water Spaniel dog came to the United States in the 1870s. Today, the breed is ranked 139th among the 155 breeds registered by the American Kennel Club.

Are Irish Water Spaniels Child Friendly?

Yes, Irish Water Spaniels are child-friendly as they are energetic and playful and will love playing with kids. They will run around your kids and will simply enjoy playing with them.

Irish Water Spaniel Flaunting Her Red Dress. Image Source- iwsamerica

Irish Water Spaniels are quite rambunctious while playing and your house will become no less than a circus. However, you should supervise your child while playing with the Irish Water Spaniel because they might get rough players and may accidentally hurt the child.

Behavior, Temperament and Personality

The Irish Water Spaniel is alert, loyal and lively dogs. They are intelligent and have a strong desire to please their owners. They are known as the clown of the spaniel family. They will entertain you with their funny behavior.

The IWS are even tempered, gentle, clam and non-aggressive with everyone. However, they might gate suspicious with strangers but will never attack them. But in the other hand, you should socialize your Irish Water Spaniel to have the best version of them.

Irish Water Spaniel are naturally happy dogs. They are very depressed or sad or lazy. They will thrive in their human counterparts. However, you should never leave them alone. They love spending their time with human and may tend to develop separation anxiety when left alone.


Irish Water Spaniels are easy to train but since they are independent dogs, they have willful streak which can make them inconsistent in training. Positive reinforcements and lots of treats might help the dogs to be trained.

You should never treat your Irish Water Spaniel harshly. They will become stubborn and may act destructively. You should make the training sessions fun and easy. Make it interesting followed with treats.

Facts About Irish Water Spaniels

General HealthHealthy
Common Health IssuesHip Dysplasia, Cataracts, Elbow Dysplasia,
Eye Problems, Diabetes, Obesity
Vaccination RequiredRabies, Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus,
Leptospirosis, Canine Parainfluenza,
Kennel Cough, Canine Coronavirus
SheddingNone to Minimal
DroolingLow Drooler
GroomingAdvance Grooming
Weight Gain PotentialAverage
Separation AnxietyModerate Chance
Diets and SupplementsProtein: 27%
Fat: 12%

Some of the facts of Irish Water Spaniels are as follows:

  • Irish Water Spaniel are the oldest breed among Spaniels.
  • They are also known as Rat- Tail Spaniels, Whip-Tail Spaniels and Shannon Spaniels. e height of 56 to 61cm and females have height of 53 to 58 cm.

Health Issues

Irish Water Spaniels are generally healthy but like other breeds they are prone to certain health issues. Some of the health conditions are given below:

  • Hip Dysplasia: It is a condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit the hip joint.
  • Cataracts: It is an opacity on the lens of the eye that causes difficulty in seeing.
  • Follicular Dysplasia: It is a group of syndromes that have hair loss and changes in coat color.
  • Hypothyroidism: It is caused by the deficiencies of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland.

Different Color Patterns

Irish Water Spaniels are found in single color that is:

  • Liver


Irish Water Spaniels can give birth to 6 to 7 puppies.

facts of Irish Water Spaniel dog
Irish Water Spaniel puppies. Image Source: researchbreeder


The average cost of the Irish Water Spaniel puppies is about $800 to $1800 USD.


The male Irish Water Spaniel are 56 to 61 cm and the female stands up to 53 to 58 cm.

The average weight of the Irish Water Spaniel is about 20-30 kg.

Which Dog Breeds Are Irish Water Spaniels Similar To?

Some of the breeds similar ro Irish Water Spaniels are as follows:

Visit Doglime to know more about different dogs breed.