Drake at 2 years old and Scout at 9 weeks old
(Scout's first day at home)
About the IWS
Irish Water Spaniels belong to the Sporting Dog group. Although not a very popular
breed, it is a breed with great history. They have been bred for a job that requires them to have the stamina to
tirelessly retrieve waterfowl in all sorts of weather. They are energetic dogs that need to have some form of
outlet and exercise.
While we pride ourselves in breeding dogs that are willing to do anything at any time, we also pride ourselves in
breeding dogs that make loving family companions. However, all Irish Water Spaniels require a fair amount of exercise.
If you're looking for a couch potato or a dog that is happy just hanging out in the back yard, this is not the breed for
you. An hour or so, every day, of any age-appropriate, fast paced activity should be sufficient to keep your dog happy and well
conditioned. Good daily activities include a brisk walk, retrieving, swimming, hiking, etc. They also love to
participate in all family activities. However, the best activity for an Irish Water Spaniel is any
activity that uses their mind and makes them think. Obedience, hunting, agility, tracking, nose work, or problem solving games will challenge an Irish
Water Spaniel and keep them very happy. We recommend that anyone who purchases an Irish Water Spaniel enroll in a
basic obedience/manners class and teach the dog a reliable sit, stay, down and come. You must also teach your dog to
walk on a leash without pulling. They are very strong and it is not fun being dragged around by them. It is critical that you teach the basics
to have a happy and well-mannered family member. All Irish Water Spaniels require a lot of socialization as a
puppy and young adult. IWS will go through a couple of fear periods including 8-13 weeks and one from about the age of 8 -15
months. It is critical during these stages that they receive positive experiences to develop into a well adjusted
adult. Your breeder should be able to give you specific information on how best to socialization your IWS.
Irish Water Spaniels are a heavily coated breed and as such require regular
grooming. They should be thoroughly brushed at least once a week with a brush or comb. They should be bathed and
trimmed every 4-6 weeks in order to keep the coat in good condition. A good breeder will provide instructions as
to how best care for your dog's coat. Whether a pet trim or show coat, maintenance is important.
We hope you will find the information in this website helpful and informative in
assisting you in your decision on whether an Irish Water Spaniel is the right dog for you. We
encourage you to learn more about the Irish Water Spaniel and we always welcome people to meet them. Please
explore the pages on Scout, Clark, Glider, Ryan, Flare, the Dogs of Cuardach, and the Puppy pages to learn more about our Irish Water Spaniels and please contact us
if you have any questions. The best way to contact us is through email and the contact information is on the
In late June 2010, my Irish Water Spaniels were filmed for the Animal Planet "Dogs 101"
show on the Irish Water Spaniel. Scout, Clark and Glider were filmed along with my Megan/Marley litter that were almost
8 weeks old. My dogs were not the main feature of the story but it was fun to do and even more fun to see them on TV.
Click here to see the Dogs 101 (IWS).avi episode. It gives a
pretty good overview of the IWS.
Why or Why Not an Irish Water Spaniel
Maybe you have fallen in love with
their unique looks. However, there are many other dogs that look quite similar. Never get a breed just because of
the looks. You may love the looks but not the upkeep, the temperament, energy level, or nature.
They have energy, drive and
enthusiasm. They are not happy just going in a backyard or being couch potatoes. While many can settle
down in the house very nicely, they need exercise and training to make this happen. You must be willing to put
the time and energy into teaching basic manners and you must be willing to give them exercise. You don't need to compete in formal events with them
but they do need an outlet for their energy. Walks, retrieving, obedience, agility, tracking or whatever, they need
something to do. If they don't get proper exercise, they will make up their own games which you might not be
in favor of.
This is a dog that has a long
history of being bred for a job. They were bred to hunt in the Irish terrain in all kinds of conditions that
included cold and mud. This is a job that required determination and strength and an ability to ignore pain and
hardship. Many dogs have been known to work though significant pain so it is your job as the owner to monitor their
health at all times.
They are very intelligent, learn
very quickly, and can be a lot of fun to train. Sometimes, however, they are too smart for their own good and they
may learn things you didn't intend to teach them. Be careful what you train your puppy. While it may be cute when
they are a 15 pound little pup, it may not be so cute as a 60+ pound adult.
They love to work. Their first
love is hunting and retrieving. Many Irish Water Spaniels are willing to jump in water and retrieve in the middle
of February in Maryland. Burr!! They are athletic dogs that love agility and obedience. They need to understand
what is expected of them, however, they cannot tolerate harsh training. If you are too soft, they will walk all
over you. The breeder should be able to help you with training advice.
The IWS requires a lot of
socialization, not only in the first couple of months but the first couple of years and you must be committed to do
If you do not properly socialize your IWS, you can make the most
outgoing IWS become shy and insecure. You will find some
helpful information about socialization under the "General Information" section under the "Socialization" tab.
The breeder can only do so much, on-going socialization by the owner is critical.
Some people believe that the Irish
Water Spaniel is hypoallergenic and better for people with allergies. There is no scientific data to prove this so
if this is a concern, you should meet an Irish Water Spaniel. However, do not get one just for this reason.
There are several breeds that may be okay with people who have allergies and not all are as high energy as the IWS.
Some Irish Water Spaniels are
outgoing while others are more reserved and selective with strangers. Their priority is to their family, not
strangers, and they just want to be involved in whatever their people are doing. They should not be scared or
aggressive. They can make great family pets.
The IWS is a relatively healthy
breed but like any dog, there are certain health issues/concerns for the breeders that any perspective buyer should
be aware of. IWS may be have occurrences of hip, elbow and shoulder dysplasia. They may also have
juvenile cataracts. Some IWS have had epilepsy and of course, cancer is always a concern. You should ask any
perspective breeder that you are considering getting a puppy from what health tests they perform and what health
issues they have experienced in their lines in the past.
If you want an intelligent, driven
dog an IWS may be for you. If you want a breed that is relatively healthy, you may want an IWS. If you want a dog
that can do almost any performance event or activity, you may want to consider an IWS. If you want a dog that you
can build a great relationship with, you may want to consider an IWS.
Ryan, Clark, Scout and my sister's Berner, Kinsey together for a training weekend - July 2011