Irish Water Dog

The Irish water dog or Irish water spaniel is a very peculiar dog breed that stands out for two unique characteristics: its curly hair and its “rat tail.” They are one of the very resistant and hardworking dog breeds, which have traditionally been used as retrievers and hunting dogs. However, they are also excellent companion dogs that stand out for their friendly and teasing nature.

Do you want to know more about the Irish water dog or Irish water spaniel ? If so, do not hesitate to join us in the following AnimalWised sheet, in which we will talk about the main characteristics of this breed.

Origin of the Irish water dog or Irish water spaniel

The origin of the Irish water dog is unknown . There is no reliable evidence about the ancestor of the Irish water dog, since those who created the breed did not account for it. This enigma has given rise to multiple speculations about the breeds that could have given rise to this particular Irish dog. There are those who maintain that it could come from crosses between the poodle , the Portuguese water dog or the barbet , although its true origin is uncertain.

It is currently thought that water dogs originated in Persia and arrived in Ireland by fishermen from Spain and other Mediterranean countries. The first Irish reference to waterfowl hunting water dogs dates back to the 17th century, however, it was not until 1834 when the breed was officially registered.

Characteristics of the Irish water dog or Irish water spaniel

The Irish Water Dog has traditionally been used as a retriever (a dog that recovers downed prey) and as a wild bird hunting dog. It is an excellent swimmer, which stands out for its great predisposition to work and for its enormous resistance to the cold waters of the north.

It is a medium-large dog, characterized by being the tallest of all Spaniels . Females weigh between 20-26 kg and have a height of about 51-56 cm, while males weigh between 25-30 kg and measure about 53-59 cm.

The appearance of the Irish Water Spaniel has two unique and unmistakable characteristics :

  • They have dense hair , with small, well-defined curls and a natural oiliness : the coat is made up of two layers: a dense, short and thick inner layer (to keep warm) and a longer, water-resistant outer layer.
  • The tail is unique and exclusive to this breed and is called “rat tail” in dogs or “whip tail” : because it is devoid of hair and because it is considerably wider at the base than at the tip. In movement, it is carried straight almost at the level of the back.

In addition to these two peculiarities, there are other characteristics of the Irish Water Spaniel of its breed standard that should be highlighted:

  • They have a good-sized head : crowned by a bun of long, loose curls. The hair forms a kind of beard on the back of the jaw. The truffle is large and dark liver in color.
  • The eyes are relatively small and almond-shaped : in addition, the color varies from amber to dark hazel.
  • The ears are very long , lobular in shape and covered with long, very curly hair: they are set low and hang close to the cheeks.
  • The neck is long, strong and arched: it ends in a deep but not very broad chest.

Colors of the Irish water dog or Irish water spaniel

Unlike other breeds in which you can find specimens with different coats, Irish water dogs always have a pure and very intense liver color . Sometimes, they may have white spots on the chest.

Irish Water Dog Character

The Irish Water Dog is an intelligent, bold, willing and energetic animal . They are especially loyal dogs to their handlers, which makes them excellent companion animals. Additionally, unlike other hunting dogs, they are not especially vocal or noisy , making them a stalking alternative for those handlers who are especially sensitive to barking.

Due to its friendly and mocking nature , and its peculiar sense of humor, the Irish water dog is affectionately known as “the clown of spaniels”, a characteristic that makes them indistinguishable in the eyes of their handlers.

Some specimens of this breed of dog may be reluctant to contact unknown people or animals , so it is important to carry out correct socialization from an early age. Additionally, socialization of these types of dog breeds is particularly important when they are expected to live with young children.

Care of the Irish Water Dog or Irish Water Spaniel

In addition to the basic care of any breed, special attention should be paid to:

  • Activity and exercise : The Irish Water Dog is an energetic and energetic animal, requiring a high level of daily activity . To stay physically and mentally healthy, you need to take walks for a couple of hours a day. Furthermore, as a good water dog, he especially enjoys all activities that have to do with any aquatic environment. A long walk along the river or the beach will be the ideal plan for them.
  • Hair care : to keep hair clean and free of knots, it is important to brush every 1 or 2 weeks . Likewise, every 2 months it is advisable to trim your hair to fix it and give it shape. Regular exposure to water helps keep hair well curled and looking great. How to cut a water dog’s hair? We will tell you about it in the following AnimalWised article.
  • Ear care : having long and large ears, they have a special tendency to accumulate earwax and suffer from otitis . Therefore, it is important to maintain proper ear hygiene. How to clean my dog’s ears? Find out below.

Irish Water Dog Education

The Irish Water Dog is an animal accustomed to teamwork. Additionally, it has a natural instinct to please its handlers , so it is usually relatively easy to train. Their energy and learning ability make them good candidates for sports such as Agility or flyball. In addition, their sensitive nature means that they can also be used as natural therapy and assistance dogs.

As we have already mentioned, they are dogs that can be somewhat distant with unknown people and animals, so socialization must begin from an early age to avoid future behavioral problems.

Health of the Irish Water Spaniel Dog

The Irish Water Dog has a life expectancy of about 10-12 years. The health problems that occur most frequently in this breed are:

  • Hip dysplasia .
  • Hypothyroidism .
  • Entropion .
  • Epilepsy .
  • Otitis .
  • Dermatological problems.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that it is a breed with sensitivity to certain drugs , such as ivermectin , sulfonamides and some anesthetics. It is vitally important for Irish Water Dog handlers to remember this condition, as administration of these medications can be fatal.

Where to adopt an Irish water dog?

The Irish Water Dog is a rare breed , so finding a specimen of this dog breed for adoption in our country can be a complicated task . If you are thinking about including an Irish water dog in the family, you can try to contact one of the clubs of this breed to guide your search. However, remember that what is truly important when adopting a new family member is not that they meet any racial standard, but that you can adapt to their needs and lifestyle.

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