The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the spaniel breeds, sporting a solid brown, crisp-textured, curly coat and a topknot of curls that protects the eyes. The muzzle is long and square, ending in a large, liver-colored nose and teeth that meet in either a level or scissors bite. The chest is deep, the forelegs are powerful without being bulky, and the hindquarters are muscular and set as high or higher than the shoulders, to aid in swimming. Webbed feet also make the Irish Water Spaniel a champion swimmer. The tail is wide at the root and tapers to a point. Unlike the hair on the rest of the body, the hair on the tail is very short and is known as a rat tail.
Size and Weight
Males should ideally stand from 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder and females should stand 21 to 23 inches. Males tip the scales from 55 to 68 pounds, while females weigh in slightly lighter, from 45 to 58 pounds.
Coat and Color
The Irish Water Spaniel sports a thick double coat that forms ringlets over the back, sides and rear. At the ribs, the hair is longer and waves cover the dog's legs. There is a V-shaped patch on the throat where they hair is short and smooth. The undercoat is dense and helps provide protection from water and cold temperatures. The Irish Water Spaniel is always a solid liver color, described as deep reddish brown. There are no white markings, except for those due to graying from age.
Irish Water Spaniels shed very little, if at all, but they still must be brushed two to three times per week. Brushing removes dirt, prevents tangles and mats from forming and keeps the hair healthy. The natural oil in the dog's coat attracts dirt and debris, and regular brushing removes this dirt and distributes the oil throughout the hair to keep coat clean and healthy.
The long, floppy, pendant ears of the Irish Water Spaniel do not allow for air to circulate properly through the ear, and when the dog swims, water can get trapped in the ear, making them prone to painful ear infections. After the dog has been in the water, and once or twice every week, clean the air with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-recommended cleanser.
Brushing the teeth on a weekly basis will prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails once per month, if the dog does not naturally wear down the nails outdoors. If the toes click on hard floors, the nails are too long.