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Irish Water Spaniel – Fun Facts and Crate Size

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Irish Water Spaniel dog crate size

Irish Water Spaniel

Quick Facts:

  • AKC recognized in 1884
  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 13 years
  • Size: medium-large
  • Energy Level: medium-high
  • Recommended Crate Size: 42” dog crate*

Return to main Dog Crate Size Breed Chart.


The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest breed and one of the oldest of the spaniels.

According to the American Kennel Club in terms of registrations, it is one of the rarer breeds. This is also the tallest of AKC spaniels, standing 21 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weight of 55 to 65 pounds.

Some of its distinguishing characteristics are a crisply curled, waterproof coat, liver-colored, a tapered “rat tail”, and a cleanly chiseled head crowned with a topknot of long, loose curls.

The Irish Water Spaniel is a dog of very ancient lineage, and there is evidence of Irish Water Spaniel-type remains going back as far as the 7th and 8th centuries AD.

The Irish Water Spaniel is a native Irish breed dating back at least 1000 years. However, it is not known from which other breeds Irish Water Spaniels were developed.


The American Kennel Club formally recognized the Irish Water Spinel in 1884 and classified it in the Sporting Group.

These medium-high energy dogs are known as a sturdy, cobby dog, native to Ireland.

Irish Water Spaniels may make good family dogs, as they are usually excellent with respectful children and with other pets.

They can be good guard dogs if they have been trained to do so. They will carefully protect their human families.

Irish Water Spaniels possess a good brain, ruggedness, trainability, and an eagerness to please.

Some people say that they are the clowns of the spaniel family.

The breed is often described as bold and dashing, but they can be wary of strangers.

Early training and socialization are necessary for an IWS expected to coexist with small children and other pets.

As is probably obvious, it is a water dog.

Common health problems are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and ear infections.


The Irish Water has a dense curly coat.

The color is pure and has a very definite purple hue, unlike the color of any other known dog breed.

The non-shedding characteristic of the double coat means that people usually allergic to dogs might have less of an allergic reaction to Irish Water Spaniels (hypoallergenic).

It also has several distinguishing characteristics which make them among the most recognizable of all dog breeds. The characteristics are a topknot of long, loose curls growing down from the head which often covers the eyes.

In addition, such a beard growing at the back of the throat and usually accompanied by "sideburns".

The most distinguishing characteristic of these dogs is the smooth "rat tail", completely free of long hair except at the base where it is covered for 2–3 inches with curls.

The face is entirely smooth-coated and, unlike the poodle, should require little or no trimming to stay that way.

It is also ruggedly built with webbed feet that provide the ability for powerful swimming.


It is recommended to provide dog food formulated to medium-large-sized dog breeds. It is highly recommended to discuss your dog’s feed with your veterinarian and/or breeder in order to determine the size and frequency of meals in order to ensure a healthy, long life. It is also important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available.


All Irish Water Spaniels require a grooming regimen that includes maintaining healthy ears, teeth, and nails.

Regular weekly grooming and the occasional bath will help keep them clean and looking their best.

Teeth should be brushed regularly and their strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking.

Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection.

Scissoring will be required every 6–8 weeks to neaten and shape the double coat.

This breed makes an excellent show dog.


The Irish Water Spaniel responds well to methods of positive and motivational training, such as using food, toys, and praise. It is not suitable for a heavy-handed disciplinary method.

It is also excellent in a rally, freestyle, agility, tracking, dock diving, flyball and as assistance and therapy dogs.

As a typical Sporting dog, the Irish Water Spaniel is categorized as an active and energetic companion. Makes a great hunting dog. 

He possesses the natural instinct to please, making him relatively easy to train, but regular exercise is important.

Although happy to curl up and sleep at home, regular walks and exercise are essential for a healthy, contented water spaniel.

This breed needs 30-60 minutes of daily exercise.

Pet Crate Size

Pet Crates Direct recommends a 42” dog crate* for most adult Irish Water Spaniels.


Return to the main Dog Crate Sizes Breed Chart.

* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.

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