Breed Standard

This page will inform you of the breed standard as accepted by the Club.

Breed Standard : FCI-Standard N° 124 / 08.11.2002 / GB

Country Of Origin : Ireland.

Date Of Publication Of The Original Valid Standard :13.03.2001.

Utilisation :

The Irish Water Spaniel can be easily adapted to suit most forms of shooting he will hunt, often point and retrieve readily from heavy cover.  The construction and nature of the breed has traditionally made it the choice of the wildfowler.

Irish Water Spaniels also make fantastic family pets.

General Appearance

  • Smart
  • Upstanding
  • Strongly built
  • Compact or cobby.


  • Proud
  • Combining great intelligence and endurance with a bold and dashing eagerness of temperament
  • Immense stamina and loyalty.
  • A good family dog with a sense of humour but discerning with strangers

Physical Characteristics

Cranial Region:

  • Head; Skull and head should be of good size,
  • Skull: Skull high in dome, good length and width allowing for large brain capacity.
  • Top-knot should consist of long loose curls growing down into a well-defined peak between the eyes and should not be in the form of a wig. i.e. growing straight across.
  • Stop; Gradual.

Facial Region:

  • Face: Perfectly smooth. Hair grows in a narrow line forming a beard at the back of the lower jaw.
  • Nose: Large and well developed and of a dark liver colour.
  • Muzzle: Long, strong and somewhat square in appearance.
  • Teeth: Strong and regular with a scissors bite.
  • Eyes: Comparatively small almond- shaped, dark amber or dark hazel and very intelligent looking.
  • Ears: Very long and lobe- shaped in the leather, set low, hanging quite close to the cheeks and covered with long, twisted curls of hair.
  • Neck: Fairly long, strong and arching, (enabling the head to be carried well above the level of the back) and strongly set into the shoulders.


  • Should be of good size, being as a whole appearance proportionate as to give a barrel-shaped appearance accentuated by the springing of the ribs; overall strong and well-muscled
  • Back: Short, broad and level, strongly coupled to the hindquarters.
  • Loins: Deep and wide.
  • Chest: Deep, but not too wide or round between the forelegs, though large girth with ribs well sprang behind the shoulders. Ribs carried well back.


  • Smooth, strong and thick at root where it is covered for 3 to 4 inches (7,5 cm – 10 cm) with short curls, aid gradually tapering ending in a fine point. It should not be long enough to reach the hock joint, and should be carried nearly level with the back in a straight line.



  • Shoulders: Very powerful and sloping..
  • Forelegs: Well boned and straight, the forearm at point of elbow in a straight line with point of shoulders.


  • Very powerful…
  • Stifles: Well bent stifles
  • Hocks: Hocks set low
  • Feet: Large, somewhat round and spreading, well covered with hair, both over and between the toes, but free from any superfluous feather;

Gait / Movement:

  • The gait has a characteristic, peculiar to the breed, that of a rolling motion produced by the barrel-shaped ribcage.



  • Dense, tight, crisp ringlets, entirely free from wooliness but with a natural oiliness.
  • The back and sides of the neck should be covered in curls similar to those on the body.
  • The throat should be smooth, the smooth hair forming a V- shaped patch from the back of the lower jaw to the breastbone.
  • The forelegs covered with feather which should be abundant all round though shorter in front.
  • Below the hocks, the hind legs must be smooth in front, but feathered behind down to the feet,


  • A very rich puce liver, white on chest objectionable.

Sim: (Height)

  • Dogs. 21/23 inches (53/59cm)
  • Bitches, 20/22 inches (51/56cm)


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

  • White on chest.
  • Want of feather on front of forelegs
  • Paleness of coat
  • Splay feet
  • Light eye
  • Feather on stern
  • Wooliness of coat
  • Feather on face
  • Feather on front of hocks
  • White on feet

Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

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