Irish Water Spaniel

Association of Canada


The Irish Water Spaniel (IWS) is a dog of ancient lineage and although there are a number of theories about the exact origin of the breed, it is generally accepted that it shares a common ancestry with the poodle and other ancient breeds of water dogs.  To fanciers, the Irish Water Spaniel is recognizable by his coat of puce live coloured curls, his smooth face with topknot falling over inquisitive eyes, and his distinctive rat tail.


Welcome to the wonderful world of Irish Water Spaniels!  The purpose of this site is to share information about Irish Water Spaniels and our association as fanciers of the breed.


The development of the modern Irish Water Spaniel is credited to Justin McCarthy

  in Ireland in the mid-1800’s.  His dog “Boatswain” (1834 - 1852) is accepted as the

  foundation Irish Water Spaniel we know today.  It is also generally accepted that

  Boatswain descended from the Southern Irish Water Spaniel whose ancestors

  existed in Ireland for over 1000 years.

The small gene pool and the care breeders have taken to retain the main characteristics of the breed have resulted in a dog not unlike Boatswain. In appearance little has changed in over 150 years, and these dogs are still bred for their original purposes - for hunting and as companion dogs. The IWS is a versatile breed that continues to demonstrate this versatility in the breed ring, in obedience, in agility, in tracking, and in the field. The IWS is always eager to try any new activity and is happiest doing it with its favourite person.