Irish Water Spaniel
(aka: Whiptail, Rat Tail Spaniel, Bog Dog, Shannon Tail)
The Irish Water Spaniel is a large dog, and although sturdy also has a cuddly, huggable appearance because of his dense, poodle-like coat. The coat is made up of tight curls on some parts of the body and looser curls on other parts. These dogs also have a distinctive curly topknot, and long ears that frame his face beautifully. Another distinctive feature of the Irish Water Spaniel is his webbed feet. The face of these dogs is smooth, and they have an intelligent, if somewhat distant, expression. The coloring of the Irish Water Spaniel is solid liver. In terms of height the Irish Water Spaniel reaches around 21-23 inches for females, and 22-24 inches for males. These dogs weigh in at 45-60 pounds for females and 55-65 pounds for males.
Irish Water Spaniel Temperament
The tallest of the spaniels, the Irish Water Spaniel is a fun loving, amiable, and somewhat clownish dog. These dogs are bold, highly intelligent, and quick to learn, which makes training easy. They can, however, also be rather obstinate, opinionated, and sensitive, which makes them best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. The personality of the Irish Water Spaniel can vary from one individual to another, but by and large these dogs are eager to please their owners, enjoy play and activity, and have inquisitive and curious natures. The energy level of the Irish Water Spaniel can be very high as a puppy, but tends to decrease to more moderate levels as the dog grows older. The Irish Water Spaniel can be very protective, which makes him an effective watchdog. Some can also be reserved or sharp, which makes early socialization important.
The Irish Water Spaniel, as the name suggests, loves water and is known to be a very efficient retriever when it comes to wildfowl. These dogs will get along well with children, particularly children that they have been brought up with, but tend to be wary around strangers. When it comes to other pets some Irish Water Spaniels can be aggressive, particularly with other dogs - again early socialization is an important consideration if you have other pets. The Irish Water Spaniel is a spirited dog that has plenty of stamina and a fun loving disposition, making him a great choice for a family pet.
The grooming needs of the Irish Water Spaniel are moderate to high, so you will need to dedicate some time in order to ensure that his coat is kept in good condition. You should brush the coat of the Irish Water Spaniel several times a week, and slip as and when required. It is also important to trim the hair around his bottom for hygiene reasons, and to ensure that his ears are clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection. These dogs are known to be well suited for those with allergies, as they are low shedders.
The history of the Irish Water Spaniel is traced back to the mid 1800's when it was discovered as a hunting dog. The Irish Water Spaniel originated in Ireland and is believed to have been derived of ancestry with the Poodle and Irish Setter or other Spaniel breeds found in Northern and Southern Ireland. The Irish Water Spaniel is a breed that has always been prized as an excellent hunting dog with a firm but gentle mouth for retrieving animals for it's hunter, and is mostly used for hunting birds. The Irish Water Spaniel was the most popular hunting dog until the Labrador Retriever replaced it due to the easy grooming of it's short straight haired and water repellent coat. Most often the Irish Water Spaniel was bred as a retriever for water birds and other small hunted game and known for being a daring retriever in the coldest of waters.
The Irish Water Spaniel needs a firm and dominant authority figure for training beginning at an early age of puppy hood. When trained early they will make great dogs for your family, hunting or watch dogs. They are highly intelligent and good problem solvers however obedience can be an issue without the proper authority. Professional training is recommended and the owner needs to be present to become the superior figure in the dogs mind, otherwise this is a breed that will often only listen to whom it recognizes as the most dominant figure in it's day to day life.
The life expectancy of the Irish Water Spaniel is around 10-12 years, and although a relatively healthy breed in general there are a few health problems to look out for. This includes allergies, skin conditions, thyroid problems, autoimmune disorders, HD, and epilepsy. You should ask about vWD when considering an Irish Water Spaniel, and you should also ensure that the parents of the Irish Water Spaniel puppy have OFA and CERF certificates.