The webbed feet and top knot of these spaniels have mystified many dog lovers for generations. Any one of these fascinating creatures would be sure to light up your life and home. Don’t confuse it with a poodle, though! Read on ahead to find out how this breed came to be and whether it’s a good fit for your lifestyle.
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Irish Water Spaniel Appearance
These dogs are generally classified as a sporting breed. Their average height is 1’9” to a full 2’ at the shoulders. They weigh around 45-65 pounds and are expected to live for 10-12 years.
This kind of dog usually has a unique top knot as well as curly hair all over the body. Its ancestors might have had a poodle somewhere, but this spaniel is not a poodle at all. It’s much bigger than the modern poodle and resembles a more standard, versatile dog.
It’s commonly used for hunting, retrieving, swimming, and pointing. It can even retrieve waterfowl along with grouse, pheasant, and quail.
The Irish Water Spaniel has the interesting and unique addition of webbed feet. These are obviously useful for when it’s in the water for hunting or entertainment purposes.
Irish Water Spaniel Grooming
The grooming part of keeping an Irish Water Spaniel can become quite challenging. This is because you need to groom it on a regular basis. Its coat should be brushed at least a couple of times a week; otherwise, mats and tangles might form. It also has water-repellant oil in its fur, which could attract dust, debris, and dirt. These particles would stick to the oils and make the coat look dirty on a regular basis. When you brush the coat regularly, you’d be distributing the oils and make them less sticky. This would also remove any unwanted and unnecessary particles on the coat.
Irish Water Spaniel Temperament
The Irish Water Spaniel is a good-looking dog and an entertainer to boot. Even the simplest of tasks could be turned into a game with this breed since it’s always looking for a fun time. Along with this, it’s quite intelligent, energetic, and willing to try anything under the sun. Since it’s been trained for centuries to retrieve, it has a built-in desire to please its human.
Even though it’s playful, Irish Water Spaniels are usually quiet dogs. They only bark when it’s absolutely necessary to give a warning. They’re also alert, which makes them perfect for being watchdogs or guard dogs. When you keep this breed as a pet, you may find that it’s loyal to the whole family but might have a favorite among them.
Needless to say, the Irish Water Spaniel is always ready to jump into swimming pools, lakes, streams, or any other water body if it’s not held back in time. It might also prove difficult to handle when you want it to get out of the water. Owners should, hence, take care to provide regular swimming sessions for their Irish Water Spaniels if and when possible.
Irish Water Spaniel Training
The Irish Water Spaniel is usually possessed with a certain strain of mischief that might get in the way of training. It’s obedient and eager to please for the most part, but you never know when it’s going to run off and have some adventure of its own. If you mean to enter it in an official competition, get ready for its fun personality to emerge when least expected.
Since this kind of dog is a headstrong and independent one, it’s not really recommended for a novice owner. Also, while it’s a great companion for humans, it probably shouldn't be trusted with the smaller pets in the house or neighborhood.
In order to make sure these dogs adapt themselves and are trained properly, they need socialization sessions as early as possible. It’s recommended that they be exposed to several kinds of sight, experiences, sounds, and people so that they can relax and know who to trust.
Irish Water Spaniel History
The origin of Irish Water Spaniels is heavily debated, as is the case with many breeds from this particular area. They were first known to appear in Ireland around the 1830s from Justin McCarthy’s kennel. He had a dog named Boatswain, who was probably the first ancestor of the breed we know today. To this date, no one knows how he managed to get this breed just so. He never revealed his secret and took it with him to his grave.
The speculation about the parent of the first Irish Water Spaniel focuses on either the poodle-like French dogs or an early Barbet. There might also have been some Portuguese Water Dogs in the mix. Water Spaniels were not unknown then either. One variety available then had curly fur and might have contributed to making the breed what it is today.
This breed had its first show in 1862 in Birmingham. In 1899, the Irish Water Spaniel went through a field trial. Four dogs of this breed entered the first Westminster Kennel Club show in the year 1877. The breed entered USA in the 1870s but hasn’t become as popular as it is in Ireland.
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