The Irish Water Spaniel is a breed of dog that is the largest and one of the oldest of spaniels. It is also one of the rarest.
The Irish Water Spaniel is a stout and cobby dog native to Ireland. The coat, consisting of dense curls, sheds very little. The colour is liver/puce and has a very definite purple hue unlike the colour of any other known breed. The non-shedding characteristic of the coat means that people usually allergic to dogs might have less of an allergic reaction to Irish Water Spaniels.
The dogs are strongly built, and a bit taller and more squarish than other spaniels. There is a curly topknot upon the head and the face is smooth. The most distinguishing characteristic of these dogs is their not-too-long "rat-like" tails, which are a striking contrast to their otherwise curly coats. Dogs range in height from 22 to 24 inches (56–61 cm), and weigh 55 to 65 pounds (25–30 kg). As their name would imply these dogs love water. To this end they have evolved slightly webbed feet.
Irish Water Spaniels may make good family dogs, as they are usually excellent with respectful children and with other pets. They can make good guard dogs if they have been trained to do so, and will protect their human families. Not usually an aggressive dog, yet the IWS may have a deep, fierce-sounding bark.
Although their coats do grow to medium length, the dogs do not need regular brushing unless the owner intends to enter the showring. A once-a-month trim with scissors to remove straggly ends, a comb to remove mats, then a swim to curl up the coat again, is all that is usually required.
Although happy to curl up and sleep at home, regular walks and exercise are essential for a healthy, contented water spaniel. An unexercised IWS may mean a naughty, mischievous IWS. An ideal home though would be a working environment, where the dogs' minds as well as bodies are exercised. Many IWS owners work their dogs in the shooting field, in obedience tests, in agility competitions, or in the conformation show ring. A favourite pastime is swimming, so the ideal owner would be someone who could give their dog access to a clean, safe river, or other body of water.
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