Irish Water Spaniel / IWS, Whiptail, Shannon Spaniel, Rat Tail Spaniel, Bog Dog

Friendship with other dogs
Friendship with strangers
Watch dog
Guard dog
Origin: Ireland
Height: 20.28 - 23.4 inch
Weight: 44.0 - 63.8 lbs

Breed history:

 This breed descends from the older breeds of Water Spaniels from the Southern part of the country and was developed in the middle of 19th century. The breed was acknowledged by the Kennel Club in 1862.


 It is a medium-sized, strong dog, the tallest of the Spaniels. It has a proportional head, a long, powerful muzzle, with a big and wide nose, of brown-chestnut colour. The eyes are pretty small, dark brown. The ears are very long, lobe-shaped (leaflike), placed low, drooping close to the head and covered by long, curly hair. The tail, characteristic of the breed, resembles that of a rat, it is short, straight, tapered, carried under the back line and only 8-10 cm from the base being covered with curly hair and the rest is without hair or with soft, short, straight hair. The fur is similar to that of a sheep, has thick curls and can be soft or wiry. The hair is short and straight on the face, neck and a part of the tail, towards the tip. The paws are well-covered in fur, it can have a beard, sideburns, has a curly forelock on top of the head. The coat can be of different shades of reddish-brown.


 It is an intelligent, active, bold, dynamic, lively, cheerful, pretty quiet dog that sometimes can be stubborn. It is devoted to its master, it accepts children but is shy, reserved with strangers or with new situations. It must be socialized from an early age in order to get along with other dogs or other household animals.


 The fur must not be brushed too often and too much, not to become fluffy. If this happens, it must be washed or taken to a place where it can swim, to recover its curls. If it is necessary, the fur will be trimmed by a specialist. This dog sheds little to no hair. It is not predisposed to hereditary diseases.

Living conditions:

 This dog is very resistant to cold weather and feels best in a well-fenced yard where it can move freely. It likes exercise, long walks, swimming, playing fetch and running. It is recommended to an active person. It needs socialization and training.


 It is reccommended for the training to start from an early age and should be done by a person with experience and authority. The training must be firm, consistent, well-balanced, varied, one must be confident to get the wanted results.


 It is used for hunting large wild birds, especially geese and as a companion.

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