The Irish water spaniel is one of the largest and oldest of the Spaniel breed of dogs. It is also known as Southern Irish water spaniel, Rat-tail dog, McCarthy’s breed and whip tail spaniel. Its roots cannot be clearly traced as there are many postulate theories that liken it to other dogs. However, it is strongly believed to have been created by Justin McCarthy from Dublin though there is no documented evidence. This Irish native dog is an excellent swimmer and was mainly used for retrieval of waterfowl. It was also used in hunting on land as a pointer and retrieval dog. It has a unique appearance that many confuse with a poodle, but its large body betrays it.
Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the spaniels standing at 20 – 24 inches tall and weighing at about 60 – 65 pounds. It has a hairy face with even a topknot covering its eyes if left unkempt. Its ears hung low with some curly hair covering it. It has a smooth rat-tail that hangs level to its back. It is well adapted to water as it has webbed feet that help it power its way through the water. Has a long muzzle that ends with a liver colored nose and its teeth meet with either a scissors or level bite.
This is a highly intelligent and committed dog. They are active though not very fond of strangers. They are bouncy dogs and will create life out of any activity and environment. As their name suggested, they thrive is areas where there is water and hence, expect them to take a regular swim if your backyard has a swimming pool. They present themselves as headstrong due to their independent-minded personality. They will require someone who has experience in dealing with Irish Water Spaniel dogs particularly when it comes to training.
These are highly active dogs that enjoy the outdoor experience. It is important to ensure they get their daily portion of exercise which should vary from running to playing and even taking a swim. They need consistent training and the trainer must be firm but always positively assuring them as they progress.
The Irish Water Spaniel’s health concerns include eye problems, ear infections, hip dysplasia, cataracts, allergies, and epilepsy. However, a healthy dog that is well taken care of will maintain good health.
Feeding requirements vary with the age, sex and level of activeness of the dog. However, it is important to feed it with a healthy balanced diet loaded with all the necessary nutrients. Avoid a random feeding style but rather ensure to follow a consistent mealtime twice a day.
Coat, color, and grooming
The Irish water spaniel has a dense covering of curly hair that heavily covers the entire body except its muzzle and tail. Due to the density of the hair, it hardly falls off, and people with allergies can be comfortable around this particular dog. They have a deep reddish brown color coat that requires grooming several times a week to prevent tangling
Family and other animals
The Irish water spaniel loves and respects their family very much. They make good playmates with children and will always cause excitement. They are aggressive to other dogs of the same sex and may chase smaller animals such as cats.