Irish Water Spaniel

Breed History / Description

The Irish breed club was founded in 1890 although liver coloured water dogs with curly coats, top knots and rat tails had been known for centuries before that date. One of the most influential dogs in Ireland, Boatswain, was born in 1834 and his bloodline can be found throughout the world. His breeder Mr Justin McCarthy was a pillar of the breed. 

Although the breed is classified as a 'spaniel' he works as a retriever, particularly in retrieving from water. In the UK he runs in retriever trials. 

Theories on the ancestry of the breed include the French Barbet, the English Water Spaniel (now extinct) and the Poodle, which was originally used as a water retrieving breed.


Enduring, versatile gundog for all types of shooting, particularly in wild fowling. 


Initially aloof, staunch and affectionate; with an endearing sense of humour and a stable disposition. 

Club, K., 2018. The Kennel Club's Breed Standards. 5th ed. London SW1V 2SA: Ebury Press.

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