Irish Water Spaniel Club of America

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Health Overview

Maintaining and improving the health of Irish Water Spaniels (IWS) is a matter of great importance to the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America.  To further that goal, the Health and Genetics committee of the club conducts health surveys, co-ordinates health research, and aids club members with health concerns.


Health Testing: One element of improving IWS health is the club’s participation in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) program and open database. Under the CHIC program, our Irish Water Spaniel Breeders of Distinction and AKC Breeders of Merit have committed to testing their dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia, eye disease, and thyroid health. They have also agreed to reveal the results of those tests in a public database.  For more information on these issues CLICK HERE

Health Database: OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) maintains the data base for health tests.  For more information on the OFA, CLICK HERE.  To search for health information on a particular dog, CLICK HERE

IWS Health Issues: Using information from the CHIC and OFA databases and our 2010 Health Survey, we have compiled a list of the most prevalent health concerns relevant to IWS. None of these health issues are specific to IWS, but they can be found in varying rates in many other dog breeds.  For more information on these issues CLICK HERE

Annual Health Report: Annually the Health and Genetics committee prepares a report to the membership on the health of our IWS.  To see the latest report CLICK HERE

Drug Warnings: Irish Water Spaniels have been found to have some drug sensitivities.  It is important to be aware of these sensitivities, since reactions can be fatal.

  • A number of IWS have experienced serious or fatal reactions to drugs commonly known as “sulfa drugs”.  We strongly advise owners to inform their veterinarians of this problem and insist the dog’s chart be marked with warnings.  For more information on these drugs CLICK HERE

  • Another drug to which some IWS have been reported as sensitive is Ivermectin, a drug used in some heart-worm preventative medications.  The owner of an IWS should always consult with the breeder of that dog to learn the appropriate heart-worm medication for their dog.

  • Additionally, some IWS appear to be sensitive to particular fleas and tick preventatives.  Again, consultation with the breeder of the dog would be appropriate to find the most effective and safe product.


Additional Information 


For more health information, please contact Dr. Laurel Baglia [email protected]

Population Information