IRISH WATER SPANIEL – Quizzical
What makes the Irish Water Spaniel Unique?
Whatever their true origins might be, this rare breed of Irish hunting dog is the perfect companion for active families living in rural areas.
Is the Irish Water Spaniel Right For You?
Irish Water Spaniels are active dogs that will be at their best in the countryside or on suburban estates that have a decent sized yard. Members of this breed are not particularly noisy and only tend to bark if there is a reason for them to do so,
Irish Water Spaniels may not be the best choice for first time dog owners as they can be incredibly stubborn at times. These smart dogs require a firm but patient hand. Clearly defined, consistent rules are also recommended for members of this breed.
In 5 Words
Learn About the Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Water Spaniels are taller and larger than most other spaniels. They have medium sized bodies that are rectangular in shape and covered with a thick, curly coat. In fact, these dogs greatly resemble a standard sized Poodle but they are not kin to the breed. Irish Water Spaniels possess sizable heads and broad chests. Their almond shaped brown or amber eyes often contain an intelligent and alert expression. They also have webbed feet that are helpful in retrieving downed waterfowl but do not hinder them on land. Members of this breed move with a swift, powerful gait. Indeed, Irish Water Spaniels are hardy dogs that can endure much in their pursuit of prey.
Irish Water Spaniels are the tallest breed of spaniel that is currently in existence. These dogs range in size from 21 to 24 inches (53 to 61 centimeters) in height and typically weigh between 45 and 68 pounds (20.5 and 31 kilograms).
Members of this breed have wooly double coat that is comprised of a shorter inner layer and longer outer layer. This feature helps render the dogs impervious to water, inclement weather, and dense under brush. Irish Water Spaniels have fur that curls into ringlets on most portions of their bodies, with the exception of the straight hair found on their tails and legs. This results in appearance that has earned the breed the regrettable nickname of “rat dogs”. American Kennel Club standards list liver or reddish brown as the only acceptable color for members of this breed.
Short History of the Irish Water Spaniel
Although some sources date this breed as far back as the 7th century and Irish mythology claims the dogs are descendants of the legendary Dobhar-chú, the first documented evidence of an Irish Water Spaniel comes from the late 16th century when the French King was presented with one as a gift from a member of the English court. These dogs were further mentioned shortly thereafter in a book entitled Historie of the Four-Footed Beastes. However, Irish Water Spaniels achieved their modern look during the 1830s. They were first shown in Birmingham, England in 1862. While Irish Water Spaniels had achieved considerable popularity by 1875, the breed eventually fell out of favor and it is not often seen today. The American Kennel Club nonetheless recognized these dogs in 1884 as part of their sporting group.
Irish Water Spaniels are active dogs that will be at their best in the countryside or on suburban estates that have a decent sized yard. Members of this breed are not particularly noisy and only tend to bark if there is a reason for them to do so, which makes them wonderful watchdogs. Irish Water Spaniels are loyal to their human family members but they are usually devoted to one person in particular. These dogs get along relatively well with children if they are raised around them. However, some members of this breed are suspicious of strangers and others can be timid in general. Their tolerance for other pets varies by individual dog.
Caring for Your Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Water Spaniels have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. However, owners will need to keep an eye out for health issues such as hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and various eye ailments. Ear and skin infections have also been known to occur in members of this breed. Some of these dogs may be severely allergic to chemicals found in common heartworm medications, vaccines, and other products.
Irish Water Spaniels are hunting dogs with copious amounts of energy. As a result, they require about an hour of daily exercise that should be broken into several different sessions. Long, briskly paced walks make good workouts for members of this breed but owners should make sure that the dogs know not to tug at their leash. Retrieving, jogging, and running will also appeal to these dogs as part of their exercise regime, but swimming is truly their favorite pastime.
Dog owners will want to clean their pet’s teeth regularly in order to prevent health problems from arising. Irish Water Spaniels will also need their coats brushed a few times per week. For best results, owners should use a slicker brush and comb from the dog’s hairline upwards in order to remove tangles.
Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medication is a must for all dogs. Most of these products are typically administered on a monthly basis. However, owners may want to have their Irish Water Spaniels checked for possible chemical sensitivities before administering any medications. These dogs may also need their toenails trimmed every other week.
Grooming & Bathing
Frequent baths are not necessary for members of this breed. These dogs do tend to shed lightly on a regularly basis but this trait can be managed by simply combing out their fur. However, Irish Water Spaniels need a great deal of maintenance to keep their coats looking tidy. Along with regular grooming, members of this breed should be clipped every other month. Any time these dogs go swimming, they will need to be rinsed off with fresh water as soon as possible so that their coats are not damaged. It is a good idea to regularly clean out their ears with vet approved products to help prevent ear infections. This is especially true for working dogs that spend a great deal of time in the water.
Exercise & Training
Irish Water Spaniels may not be the best choice for first time dog owners as they can be incredibly stubborn at times. These smart dogs require a firm but patient hand. Clearly defined, consistent rules are also recommended for members of this breed. These dogs tend to refuse commands from humans that they don’t respect. However, Irish Water Spaniels have a desire to please their owners that overrides their more undesirable personality traits. These dogs are a quick study as long as their lessons kept short and entertaining. It’s probably not a good idea to constantly repeat the same topic in every session or the dogs will get bored and lose interest.