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Irish Water Spaniel: The Oldest Hunting Dog Breed of Europe

The Irish Water Spaniel is the tallest dog breed of the spaniels originating in Ireland. They are playful dog breeds and an excellent choice for your family. The dog breed is also called Rat Tail Spaniel, Rat Tails, Whip Tail, Bog Dogs, or Shannon Spaniels. 

The Irish Rat Tail Spaniel is easy to train. They are friendly with kids and dogs and friendly toward strangers. This article gives you a clear idea of these lovely Irish Water Spaniels dogs. So, stick with us and keep reading!  

History and Origin of Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is descended from ancient water spaniels. The breed was developed in the 1850s from crossbreeding of the South Country water spaniel and the North Country water spaniel. 

The Irish Water Spaniel was recognized as a distinct breed in 1859. The breed was first introduced to the United States of America in the 1870s.

Irish Water Spaniel Dog

Physical Description: Rat Tail Spaniel

This is a medium-sized, muscular, slightly rectangular dog. It has long drop ears, a long muzzle, and a strong head. The eyes are dark hazel. There is a smooth rat tail, a deep chest, and large, wide feet.


The coat is crisp and curly or wavy. A few inches of curls are at the bottom of the tail, and the feet are well-furnished. The coat is shortest at the face, tail, and throat, with a curly topknot at the top of the head. It may have a beard and sideburns as well. The coat is liver brown.

Height, weight, and Lifespan of Irish Water Spaniel

  •  The average body height of the Irish Water Spaniel is about 21 to 24 inches (50-60 cm).
  • The average weight of the dog breed is about 45 to 65 pounds (20-30 kgs).
  • The average lifespan of the Rat tail Spaniel is about 12 to 13 years.

Temperament or Personality of the Rat Tail Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is active, intense, intelligent, and bold. It can be reserved and sharp or shy with strangers or new situations.

Best Owner of the Rat Tails Spaniel

The dog breed does best with an active owner in a rural or suburban home. It requires socialization throughout its life.

Special Needs of Irish Water Spaniel

You must ensure the following care and management for the dog breed:

  • Exercise.
  • Grooming.
  • Socialization.
  • Training.
  • Proper diet and nutrition.
  • Proper health care.
  • Skincare.
  • Proper dental care.

Health Concerns of Irish Rat Tail Spaniel

The dog is generally healthy and fit. It would be best if you vaccinated the dog against potential viral diseases. The dog must be dewormed every three months interval. The following diseases are specific to the dog breed:

Concluding Words on Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Rat Tail Spaniel is one of the oldest dog breeds. The dog was bred to be a hunting dog. They are curious and alert dogs and often can be reserved with strangers. They are also faithful dual-purpose hunting dogs for upland game and waterfowl hunting.

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