The Irish Water Spaniel is a gorgeous, curly-haired water retriever known for his excellent hunting skills. He is a high-energy family friendly dog. He is the largest of the Spaniel family. The Irish Water Spaniel first appeared in Ireland in the 1830s; Justin McCarthy’s dog, named Boatswain, is historically known as the father of the modern Irish Water Spaniel. Mr. McCarthy would never reveal the exact breeding of Boatswain, so that part of the Irish Water Spaniel is unknown. Experts think the dog is descended from the Barbet or any Poodle-type dogs and Portuguese Water Dogs. The Irish Water Spaniel came to the United States in the 1870s.
History shows that the Irish Water Spaniel may date back as far as the Stone Age or the Bronze Age. Sites excavated by archaeologists in Ireland and other locations in Europe have discovered skulls thought to be of this canine. A water spaniel-type dog is also noted in historical documentation between England and France in the 1500s. The Irish Water Spaniel as we know it today was first bred by Justin McCarthy; in fact, the Southern Irish Spaniel was called McCarthy’s Breed. Other similar Spaniels native to Ireland were the Northern Irish Spaniel and the Tweed Spaniel. Most experts believe that the modern Irish Water Spaniel was descended from McCarthy’s breed; others think that the Irish Water Spaniel is a mixture of the Poodle and Irish Setter or the Poodle and Curly-coated Retriever. The Irish Water Spaniel was bred to retrieve water birds and upland game, including doves. The 1800s saw the Irish Water Spaniel make its appearance in America, where it was used to hunt ducks. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1884.
The Irish Water Spaniel favors a standard Poodle; however, their coats are very different. He is the tallest of the Spaniel family. He has a large head, long muzzle, and a liver-colored nose. His small eyes are almond-shaped. He has long, low-set ears that are covered in curly hair. This breed has webbed feet, making him an ideal water retriever. His coat is full of long, loose curls. He has shorter curly hair on the face and tail. He has a dense undercoat which serves as a perfect insulator. He also features a curly topknot on his head.
The Irish Water Spaniel is a very intelligent and alert dog. He can be reserved, even shy, around strangers; however, early socialization can help to eliminate this problem. In fact, it is recommended that you introduce your Irish Water Spaniel to a number of people, sights and sounds when they are young puppies so that they will not be shy or timid. Irish Water Spaniels are very trainable, but their handlers must be firm with them – especially when a male is involved. They can be headstrong, and they will try to get their way if allowed to do so. Many experts do not recommend them for inexperienced dog parents. They are not always open to children or other dogs either. This is where socialization comes into play. A dog that has had a lot of interaction with different people and different dogs will be more accepting of other animals and children as they grow older.