Irish Water Spaniel general features, temperament, health

Irish Water Spaniel dog breed photo

FCI # 124, Origin: Ireland, Group 8.3 Water dogs.

Height: 20-23 in, Weight: 45-65 pounds

Grooming: High, Shedding: Low, Coat: Long curls on the body and short coat on the muzzle and tail.

Color: liver (no white markings are allowed).

Ease of training: High, Energy level: High, Span of life: 10-12 years.

Breed: The Irish Water Spaniel can be considered as one of the very old breeds with several centuries of history. The ancient origins of this dogs discovered in his research, Alan J. Stern. In his article, published in the "American Kennel Gazette" in April 1965, he noted that the archaeological expedition from the Harvard University in Ireland, while excavating the ancient sites beside the Lagor Lake, found a skull of a dog resembling by type a scull of the Irish Water Spaniel - medium sized, with the clearly marked transition from forehead to the muzzle and slightly domed. This skull and remains of the other dogs date back to VII-VIII centuries AD. The same skull was found in Central Europe in the ancient village, related to the late Stone and Bronze Ages. On the walls of an ancient Roman ruins there are found drawings of dogs, clearly reminiscent of the modern Irish Water Spaniel.

At the end of XII century, before the reign of King McCarthy II, dogs of the Southern Ireland,  that were living beside the river Shannon, were called Shannon Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels, Rat-tailed Spaniels and Long-tailed Spaniels. According to the existing documents, Sir Robert Sesil from Ireland in 1598 had sent a Water Spaniel as a gift to the French king. In 1607 Topsell in his book "The History of Four-legged Creatures," was mentioning  a Water Spaniel with a long, tight, curly hair and a naked tail. Captain Thomas Brown in the middle of the XVIII century, describes the long ears of the Irish Water Spaniel and rigid, curled structure of his coat.

It is obvious, that the breed known as the Southern Irish Water Spaniel, was established long before the legendary Boatswain (1834 - 1852), a famous ancestor of many wonderful dogs with the excellent working qualities and a bright exterior. As a breeder of  Boatswain, who is considered the founder of the modern breed known as an "Irish Water Spaniel", is considered Mr. Justin McCarthy. However, there is no information about the pedigree of that dog.

Irish Water Spaniel dog breeds

No mater, how exactly was happening the development of the Irish Water Spaniel before Boatswain, but after his appearance there was established that type, which was finally recognized by the Kennel Club. In 1849 from the mating with Boatswain, there was born a male, named Jack, whose name can be seen pretty often in the early pedigrees. For the first time the Irish Water Spaniels as a breed were exhibited in 1859. In 1866 in Birmingham, the first place among the dogs of his breed was taken by Doctor - the great-grandson of Boatswain. The portrait of a male called Rake (who also has in his veins a blood of a famous Boatswain) is clearly depicting the modern type of an Irish Water Spaniel.

In America in 1877 at the Westminster Dog Show there were shown four Irish Water Spaniels. There is an information, that one of them was imported from Ireland in 1873.

The Irish Water Spaniel is often called "the clown of the Spaniels family", probably this nickname appeared because on his head there is a characteristic bundle of a longer hair - so-called "lace" (or "cap"), and between the eyes - a strip of long, curly hair. The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of all Spaniels. Usually, this dogs are very much devoted to their owners, but with the strangers the Irish Water Spaniels are quite reserved and even suspicious.
This is an excellent water dog, and not only because he loves the water, but also because he has a water resistant coat - because of this wonderful quality in some areas of the United States until now this dogs are used for retrieving. The Irish Water Spaniel is rarely used for the work on the ground work, because his hair is always clinging thorns and brambles.

General Features: The Irish Water Spaniel gives an impression of a bright, healthy gun dog in a perfect shape. His extraordinary intellect is coupled with activity and endurance. Hallmark of the breed is a "cap" on the head - long, loose curls - and a body covered with thick curly coat of liver (reddish brown) color, contrasting with a short, tight coat on the front of the head and tail of the rat form.

Irish Water Spaniel is a well built dog of medium size, with good bones. Format close to the square. This dog must be well balanced, there should be no sign of lightness or rudeness.

The head of an Irish Water Spaniel is proportional, without prominent cheekbones. The head should be neither short nor pointed. Skull is large, dome-shaped, with a pronounced occipital protuberance and a smooth transition from forehead to muzzle. The muzzle is squared, with deep and dry lips. Nose is large, liver-colored. Teeth must be quite large and symmetrical, meeting a scissor or level bite.

The coat on the muzzle is always short, straight and tight, except for the beard that grows in a narrow strip under the lower jaw. "Cap" - a distinctive feature of the breed - consists of long, loose curls that go down a band between the eyes and flowing at the base of the ears and neck. Haircut of a "cap", breaking the natural shape, is not allowed.

Eyes of the Irish Water Spaniel must be of medium size, almond-shaped, with tightly fitting lids. Hazel eye color of various shades, preferably darker. Expression of the eyes astute, alert, intelligent, open.

Ears are long, low-set. When stretched forward, they must reach the nose, covered with long curls of hair, flowing approximately 5 cm or more below the edges of the ears.

Temperament: This breed is the only one left from three types of the Water Spaniels, that were existing in Ireland long time ago. Excellent personality of a hard worker, virtually waterproof coat with the dense undercoat, very strong impressive muscles make this dog an excellent retriever, that is able to work even in the winter in the cold waters of the Irish rivers. The Irish Water Spaniel can search for the flying game and scare it out of the hiding places, and then find and retrieve the bird after the shot, even from the icy water. This dog has an outstanding flair.

Irish Water Spaniel dog breed photo

Irish Water Spaniel is very popular, especially in England and Ireland, as an excellent hunting dog and a wonderful retriever. In the 19 th century the Irish Water Spaniel became widespread in the United States, where this dogs were used for hunting the wild ducks, until their popularity was eclipsed by the Labrador Retriever.

Now the Irish Water Spaniel is a rare breed, and outside his homeland - Ireland - he is almost unknown. The Irish Water Spaniel can be easily trained and he is always eager to please his master. Therefore, his training will not take too much of your time.

This dog is confident and extremely active, impatient and always ready to hunt. Sometimes the Irish Water Spaniel may show quite stubborn and independent character, but this dog is not inclined to dominate.

These Spaniels are perfectly suitable for the role of a family pets, they are always very attached to the owner and his family. They are gentle and kind with the familiar people, but also they have a guarding qualities and they are quite suspicious of strangers.

From a young age the Irish Water Spaniels need a proper socialization. In no case this dogs should not be timid or fearful, overly excited or suspicious. Irish Water Spaniel is a relatively quiet dog who barks only when it is absolutely necessary. He has an excellent sense of smell, he is very hardy and quite undemanding to the conditions of life.

This dog needs a long and active walks in a quiet place with no people and cars, where you can let the dog off the leash. The coat of Irish Water Spaniel needs thorough attention, as it is prone to tangle. Actually it requires a special skilled care. This dog will suit a person with allergies, because this Spaniel almost does not shed.

Irish Water Spaniel loves to swim and hunt. It is incredibly hard working and energetic dog who is always ready for a long walk or journey.

Irish Water Spaniel is a highly attractive dog: loyal, intelligent, capable of deep affection for the owner and his family. This is a great helper on the hunt for flying game, especially waterfowl. This dog is a strong, fearless swimmer.

Irish Water Spaniel will be a perfect fit for an active family, for those who are able to provide for him a long and active walks and a job to do. Grooming of the Irish Water Spaniel is quite easy if you will do it on a regular basis - just brush him at least once a day with the special brush, which you can get from any pet-shop. Make sure that the dried dirt did not stay between the dog's fingers.

Health problems: Although the Irish Water Spaniel is a very healthy and hardy breed, still some dogs of this breed may be prone to the hip dysplasia. Also - due to their large drooping ears - the Irish Water Spaniels are often prone to different ear infections.

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