The Irish Water Spaniel presents a picture of a smart, upstanding strongly built sporting dog. Great intelligence is combined with rugged endurance and a bold, dashing eagerness of temperament. Distinguishing characteristics are a topknot of long, loose curls, a body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat, contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth ''rat'' tail.
Irish Spaniels coats are naturally water-shedding. The Irish Water Spaniel can't always control his exuberance and zest for life. The Irish Water Spaniel is happy in the country or the city and is always ready to play. The Irish Water Spaniel is a breed that generally does well with people with allergies. The American Kennel Club does not recommend or endorse any specific breed, nor does it claim that this breed will not affect people with allergies.
Very alert and inquisitive, the Irish Water Spaniel is often reserved with strangers. However, aggressive behavior or excessive shyness should be penalized. A stable temperament is essential in a hunting dog
Irish Water Spaniels in the late 1100s were known as Shannon Spaniels, Rat-Tail Spaniels or Whip-Tail Spaniels. There were 4 Irish Water Spaniels entered in the first Westminster Kennel Club show in 1877. The Irish Water Spaniel is often called the clown of the spaniel family, possibly due to the peak of curly hair between the eyes.
Although the current breed stock are Irish, the ultimate origin of the breed is unknown. It is possible that more than one ancient breed of spaniel has gone into its makeup. Irish Water Spaniels share a common lineage with the Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, and Barbet (dog), but whether they are antecedents, descendants, or mixtures of these other breeds is a matter of some speculation. What is clear is that the breed has ancient roots. The modern breed as we know it was developed in Ireland in the 1830s.