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Irish Water Spaniel

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Irish Water Spaniel (Head, Muzzle)
Head, Muzzle

Breed Information


2022: #183

2021: #165

2020: #174

2019: #170

2018: #159

2017: #164

2016: #150

2015: #144

Name Irish Water Spaniel
Other names Whiptail, Shannon Spaniel, Rat Tail Spaniel, Bog Dog
Origin Ireland
Breed Group

Sporting (AKC:1884)

Gun Dogs (UKC)

Size Medium
Type Purebred
Life span 10-12 years







Height 20-23 inches (51-58 cm)
Weight 45-65 pounds (20-30 kg)
Colors Brown
Litter Size 4-12 puppies
Puppy Prices

Average $1500 - $2000 USD

The Irish Water Spaniel was one of only nine breeds first recognized by the American Kennel Club when it was founded. Although rare in the United States today, the Irish Water Spaniel used to be a more popular hunting dog. In general. The average price of an Irish Water Spaniel is between $1,500 - $2,000 per puppy.

Breed Characteristics


4 stars

Apartment Friendly

2 stars

Because he needs plenty of daily exercise and loves the outdoors, he does best in the suburbs or country. This breed does best with at least an average-sized yard.

Barking Tendencies

1 stars


Cat Friendly

2 stars

Child Friendly

5 stars

Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.

Dog Friendly

2 stars

Exercise Needs

5 stars

These are hunting dogs with tremendous stamina. They need a daily long,brisk walk, jog or run. In addition, they will greatly enjoy retrieving and swimming.


4 stars

Moderate Maintenance: The Irish Water Spaniel coat requires brushing and combing several times a week, but excessive grooming will cause the coat to fluff, which is undesirable. After brushing, the Irish Water Spaniel should be washed or allowed to swim, which will help retain its naturally curly texture.

Health Issues

4 stars

Hypoallergenic: YesProne to hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, eye entropion and ear infections.


1 stars

Ranking: #24 Full Ranking List


4 stars

Shedding Level

1 stars

Minimal Shedding: The coat sheds slightly, but it doesn’t cling to the fabric of furniture and clothing quite as much as other types of hair.

Stranger Friendly

2 stars


4 stars

Easy Training: The Irish Water Spaniel should be trained at a young age with a consistent approach. Obedience training is highly recommended. The Irish Water Spaniel learns quickly, but if it does not recognize its handler’s authority it will refuse to obey.

Watchdog Ability

4 stars

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Irish Water Spaniel Puppy (Face, Muzzle)
Face, Muzzle

Irish Water Spaniel Names

Rank Boy Names Girl Names
01 Max Bella
02 Cooper Lucy
03 Toby Molly
04 Jake Luna
05 Jax Lulu
06 Bruno Roxy
07 Hank Riley
08 Zeus Ellie
09 Riley Coco
10 Beau Abbie
100 Cute Puppy Names ›


The Irish Water Spaniel is built like no other spaniel, being much taller and racier. The body is of medium length, the whole dog being slightly rectangular in appearance. The general appearance suggests both dash and endurance. The gait is smooth and ground-covering. The coat is one of the breed's distinctive features. The body is covered with a double coat consisting of crisp ringlets. This combination imparts water, weather and thorn resistance to the dog, enabling it to hunt in the harshest of conditions. The Irish water spaniel's expression says it all: alert, intelligent and quizzical.

Like most dogs of the American Kennel Club Sporting group, the Irish Water Spaniel is essentially an active, willing and energetic companion. Because it has been bred from stock used to fetch game and return it to hand without a fuss, it has the natural instinct of wanting to please. Its keen sense of working as a team makes it a relatively easy dog to train and discipline. Because of its great intelligence and quizzical nature, it has the reputation of being the clown of the spaniel family and will do ordinary things in extraordinary ways to achieve that which is asked of it. Some individual dogs can be very wary of strangers and not every IWS can be trusted to get along with other pets. Early socialisation and training is a must.


The exact country of origin for the breed is not clear, but the country from which the most recent foundation stock came is Ireland. Some research indicates that common ancestors include the Poodle, Barbet and Portuguese Water Dog. Recent history has the breed taking its present form in the 1830's. Its development is credited to Justin McCarthy and his "Boatswain" dog. The breed's purpose is that of a waterfowl hunter; his strong swimming ability enables him to be physically qualified for the task. He is a quality retriever in any cover and is used for a variety of game. The breed has retained type for over 150 years, and is very popular in Ireland. The Irish Water Spaniel was recognized by the AKC in 1884.

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