Irish Water Spaniel

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    History & Overview

    The Irish Water Spaniel is a strong swimmer and will dive for wounded birds that otherwise would be lost to the hunter. He is the largest of the spaniel family. He is sometimes affectionately referred to as the Bogdog.

    Developed from the old Southern Irish Water Spaniel, mainly as a waterfowl retriever, he is also a breed that can be trained to point. Unlike the spaniels, which are specialized for flushing, this is a dog that leaps into the cold waters to bring back dead or wounded waterfowl. He has been described as “a lamb at home and a lion in the chase”.

    Having great stamina and speed, as well as an excellent nose, the Irish Water Spaniel loves water and can withstand almost any temperature. Once they hit the water, their webbed feet allow them to paddle with ease, and their long tails act like rudders. Irish Waters will break through ice to reach a duck, retrieve it and be willing to do it again.

    At A Glance

    Other Names:

    The Bogdog

    Country of Origin:



    Generally used as a retriever of waterfowl, he can be trained to point and retrieve from heavy cover.


    FCI Classification: Group 8: Retrievers, Flushing Dogs and Water Dogs; Section 3 – Water Dogs (with working trial)
    AKC Classification: Sporting Group


    Medium (21 – 24 inches at shoulders)

    Colors and Coat:

    Solid liver; white markings are not allowed. Double waterproof coat: soft undercoat and dense, curly outer coat.

    Litter Size:

    4 – 6

    Life Span:

    12 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    Since the coat attracts burrs like Velcro, he needs to be brushed and combed at least twice a week to avoid an accumulation of dirt and prevent matting. Matted hair must be broken because it can pull against the dog’s skin and cause sores. The breed can be shown in a natural coat or trimmed.




    Strong-willed, bold and eager hunter. Fun-loving, loyal, calm and very intelligent family companion. He tends to devote himself to the entire family.

    Social skills:

    Not usually sociable with other dogs.

    Suitability for Children:

    A wonderful companion for children, but because of his size, he is probably not suited for families with toddlers.

    Exercise Needs:

    This is an active sporting breed and exercise must be an important part of his daily routine.

    Train Ability:

    The breed is easily trained, very easy to housebreak, obedient and very intelligent. However, he is also an independent thinker and balks at repetitious drills. He makes a dedicated and very instinctive hunting companion which easily adapts to marshy ground. The breed is “soft-mouthed” which means that it does not harm the bird when he picks it up.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel


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