Is the Irish Water Spaniel Hypoallergenic?

Yes! A hypoallergenic, low-shedding breed, the Irish Water Spaniel can be an ideal companion for people with dog allergies.


The Hypoallergenic Irish Water Spaniel

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Child-friendly, good-natured, and exceptionally sociable, the Irish Water Spaniel (IWS) makes an ideal family dog. It has a good sense of humor and can be a bit of a class clown. The IWS is goofy, playful, and loving. It is an incredibly loyal breed that loves to please people. 

One of the best traits of the Irish Water Spaniel’s coat is the fact that it is hypoallergenic. IWS dogs have a double-layered coat — a water repellent outer layer and a soft, downy inner. 

The double layers of coat ensure that the hair and dander shed by the dog remains trapped in the coat. A simple brushing routine will keep the coat well maintained and keep allergens at bay. This makes the IWS a perfect dog for family members prone to allergies. 

This breed requires a lot of exercise. Like all spaniel dogs, they need socialization and training from puppyhood. They are not the best choice if you have a nine-to-five job as it’s hard for them to stay alone for a longer period of time.For this reason, crate training for Irish Water Spaniel puppies is crucial. 

For more information on this, check out our section on Exercise and Training.


The origins of Irish Water Spaniels are a mystery. Justin McCarthy, regarded as the first Irish Spaniel breeder, did not leave behind any written records. So, all we know for sure is that the breed was perfected in Ireland but their ancestry is largely unknown.

For a quick summary of this pooch, skip to our Irish Water Spaniel breed summary further down the page.


Irish Water Spaniel Quick Facts

Hypoallergenic Dog: Yes!
Shedding:  Low shedding
Drooling: Low
Size: Medium Large
Breed Group:  Sporting
Lifespan:  10-12 years
Energy Level: High
Trainability:  Easy
Family Dog: Yes! Good with kids.



About the Breed


The Irish Water Spaniel’s Physical Characteristics 

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Irish Water Spaniels are the largest dogs of the Spaniel group. They are tall and strong. IWS dogs come in shades of liver brown with a purplish hue. Their small, almond-shaped, brown eyes are curious and alert. Covered with a layer of dense fur, their long muzzle is designed for hunting.

Webbed feet make these dogs ideal water retrievers. The pointy ‘rat tail’ also aids them in swimming. A sturdy, robust build, Irish Water Spaniels have a lot of endurance for long-distance running and intense activities.

An Irish Water Spaniel’s size is medium to large. An average male IWS is 23 inches (58 centimeters) tall and weighs 61 pounds, whereas the average female IWS stands at 22 inches (58 centimeters) in height and weighs 51 pounds. 


The Irish Water Spaniel Hypoallergenic Coat

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You might confuse them with Poodles at first sight — however, the IWS has a distinct double-layered coat that covers most of its body. The long and dense, tightly-curled outer layer is water repellent, and the smooth, downy inner layer ensures that they keep warm in cold water.


The Irish Water Spaniel Temperament & Personality

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If you are looking for a friendly, vigilant, and versatile dog, the Irish Water Spaniel may be the breed for you. They are playful, humorous, puppy-like companion dogs who will do anything to please. Life-loving, spirited dogs – they make life brighter for their owners with their clownish personality.


The Irish Water Spaniel was the ninth breed to be recognized by American Kennel Club.


Irish Water Spaniel non shedding dog.

Characteristics of an Irish Water Spaniel

Are you Considering Getting an Irish Water Spaniel Puppy? 

Here are the top five things you should know:

  • Irish Water Spaniel shedding is minimal and hypoallergenic. If you have a family member who is prone to dog allergies, the hypoallergenic coat of this Spaniel is unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction.
  • This breed does not drool much, and they produce minimal dander. However, they can get mucky when playing outdoors, so they are not the best breed for fastidious people.
  • IWS dogs adore swimming. It is their favorite activity. They are also strong retrievers, and love to fetch or play with other dogs at the dog park. Additionally, they benefit best from outgoing families with kids, to give them plenty of the social interaction and attention they crave.
  • They have a cheerful personality but may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for a longer period of time.
  • This Spaniel breed can be expensive, as they may develop costly health problems. IWS dogs were a popular breed back in the day, although they are rare nowadays. During their heyday, overbreeding led to hereditary health issues — therefore, we advise you to get your Irish Water Spaniel puppy from a reputable breeder.

If you have further questions about Irish Water Spaniels, check out our FAQ section.


Irish Water Spaniel Training and Exercise


Encouraging Good Behavior in Your Irish Water Spaniel

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Training is made easy, thanks to this breed’s intelligence and eagerness to learn. They are always keen to do their best and will respond well to short, stimulating training sessions.

IWS dogs are likely to suffer from separation anxiety if left on their own for a long time. They get bored quickly and may adopt some destructive behavior as a result. Experienced trainers recommend crate training from an early age. A puppy that is crate-trained feels secure as the crate becomes a safe place.


Exercise Needs for your Irish Water Spaniel

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An active sporting dog, the IWS requires a lot of exercise. The best exercise for this breed is swimming. No dog loves water more than an Irish Water Spaniel! 

Long walks, hiking, fetching the ball, and playing with other dogs at the dog park will keep them physically and mentally fit. A daily exercise of at least 40 minutes is recommended. 




Irish Water Spaniel Grooming and Care

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Maintaining your Irish Water Spaniel’s coat is essential. Their low shedding, hypoallergenic fur requires regular grooming. It mats easily! The hair and dander that is shed gets trapped in their double-layered coat. A weekly brushing routine will ensure that the debris is removed, and the matting is kept under control. A trim every few months will keep the coat tidy. 

Ear cleaning and claw trimming are also vital for your dog’s health. Claws need to be trimmed every month or so, to minimize cracking. Ear cleaning every other week reduces the risk of ear infection.

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Irish Water Spaniel Health Issues

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Although generally a healthy breed, they are prone to some health problems and hereditary diseases. It is advised to get your pup from a good breeder who has screened his dogs for health diseases common to the IWS.

Here is a list of the Irish Water Spaniel’s health problems: 





Hypoallergenic and low-shedding — with low drooling and dander tendencies — Irish Water Spaniels are perfect for someone who suffers from dog allergies. With their people pleasing and happy-go-lucky personalities, they could win the heart of just about anyone! 

Irish Water Spaniels are smart, hard-working, and easy to train! They make a fantastic watchdog, gundog, and water dog. With their webbed feet, rat-tail, and love of water, this breed would make an ideal swimming companion. Overall, you can see why the Irish Water Spaniel hypoallergenic dog is an excellent family pet!


Irish Water Spaniel FAQ


Do Irish Water Spaniels Shed?

The Irish Water Spaniel shedding properties are minimal. They are hypoallergenic dogs that seldom drool and produce little dander.


Are Irish Water Spaniels Hypoallergenic? 

Yes they are!. They are good for people who have dog allergies. 


Is the Irish Water Spaniel Good with Children?

Yes! Irish Water Spaniels love kids. They are cheerful and love to play with children and other dogs. 


Is the Irish Water Spaniel Smart?

Yes! The Irish Water Spaniel is an intelligent breed. These dogs are also highly active and quick to learn new routines. 


Is the Irish Water Spaniel a Good Apartment Dog?

Not really! The Irish Water Spaniel loves the outdoors. These dogs will be happier if they have a large fenced yard to roam around freely.


How big Is the Irish Water Spaniel?

The Irish Water Spaniel size is between that of a medium and large dog. Males are 21-23 inches (50-56 cm) tall and weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. Females stand at 20-22 inches (50-56 cm) height and weigh 45 to 58 pounds. 


Is the Irish Water Spaniel Easy to Train?

Yes! The Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent dogs, so they are easy to train and eager to learn. Crate training them when they are puppies can help reduce the risk of separation anxiety developing. This is important if you need to leave them alone for any length of time.


How Much Does an Irish Water Spaniel Cost?

Expensive! The Irish Water Spaniel averages $1,800 – $3000 per puppy.


Irish Water Spaniel Facts Summary


Breed Irish Water Spaniel
Other Names? Whip-Tail Spaniel, the Shannon Spaniel, and the Rat-Tail Spaniel.
Hypoallergenic? Yes. Irish Water Spaniels are hypoallergenic. 
Size Irish Water Spaniels are a medium to large sized dog.
Height Male: 21-23 inches (53-58 cm)

Female: 20-22 inches (50-56 cm)

Weight Male: 55-65 pounds

Female: 45-58 pounds

Lifespan 10-12 years
Temperament Goofy, clownish, loyal, friendly, fun-loving, hard-working
Colors Brown
Coat – describe the coat Dense, curly, and water resilient outer coat.

Smooth and downy undercoat.

How much grooming? Weekly brushing is recommended, with a trim every few months.
How much shedding Minimal.
Dander levels The Irish Water Spaniel’s tendency to dander is incredibly low.
Saliva – Drooling and licking frequency?  Very low
Energy levels High
How much exercise do they need? At least a 40-minute walk per day, plus outdoor play.
Health problems Even though an overall healthy breed, they are prone to some common health problems and genetic diseases.
Good for an apartment? No.
Suitable for kids? Yes! They love children.
How much do they bark? About average. Irish Water Spaniels bark occasionally. 
Can they be left alone? Not for long — they love to be around people.
Intelligent? Yes
Trainable? Yes
How popular as a pet? It is a relatively rare breed. 

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