Breed History

The exact origins of the breed remain obscure.  Generally it is thought that Water Spaniels evolved from dogs that originated in Persia and came to Ireland via Spain.  The first Irish reference to “ water dogs that pursue water fowl” dates from 1600, so we know that dogs with waterproof coats were used in Ireland even before the advent of the fowling piece.  There is no real evidence of the ancestry of the Irish Water Spaniel except in its most peculiar feature-the rat tail.   This feature appears in no similar dog and makes it very likely that the modern breed had an indigenous Irish ancestor.   The tail has given rise to the names “ Whip Tail” and “ Rat Tail”.  In any event the descendants of these dogs were accepted and achieved great success on show benches in the second half of the 19th century.  In 1890 the Irish Water Spaniel Club was formed to promote the interests of the breed.

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