Irish Water Spaniel Club of America

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How to Identify and Rescue an Irish Water Spaniel


In our mission to help all Irish Water Spaniels in need of a new home, sometimes the first challenge is to identify the breed of the dog.  Please review the following links and case studies if you believe you have encountered an Irish Water Spaniel who needs Rescue assistance. 

For a description of the IWS at a glance, click here.

Because of similarities among a number of brown curly dog breeds, the IWSCA Rescue Committee works closely with our counterparts in other breed clubs (American Water Spaniel, Boykin, Curly Coated Retriever, etc).  Click here to study a page that is very helpful in distinguishing between the IWS and American Water Spaniel breeds.  In some cases an experienced IWS or AWS representative should be called upon to help with the identification.

If you find an Irish Water Spaniel – or one who appears to be an IWS -  in a shelter or on an internet page - please contact one of our Rescue Team immediately.  Here is a link to their contact information

2. Rescue Do's and Don'ts


  • Try to make sure the dog is an IWS.
  • Find out contact information on the dog.
  • Assess if the dog is in danger such as kill shelter or abusive home.
  • Only if dog is in danger, remove from jeopardy, if possible.
  • Let the IWS Rescue people be point so the situation can get resolved quickly and appropriately. 
  • Keep in mind many situations involve emotional trauma.  Sensitivity and discretion are always essential.
  • Call or email one of the Rescue coordinators if you learn of a potential IWS in need:

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Lisa Schaitberger
Rescue Chairperson
Colleen McDaniel            
Dorothy Line
Moe Gasperetti
National Rescue Transition Coordinator


Do Not:

  • Take dog out of home or shelter if not in danger. Fewer temporary homes are less stressful for the dog.
  • Post the situation on the Yahoo lists where misinformation can occur.  (Allow Rescue coordinators to orchestrate communications.  An experienced coordinator can often post the situation AND the solution to expedite the resolution.)   
  • Place blame on either the owner or the breeder (makes situation harder to work out). 
  • Try to do it all yourself.  The IWS group is a lovely, very helpful group of people, committed to help these dogs. Plan the approach with your team before taking action.

These are tips that we have learned over the years that we believe are most likely to result in a Rescue/Rehome that benefits the IWS involved.  They also provide a coordinated approach that allows the entire IWSCA to help in the process as individuals are able and without the stress that often accompanies these difficult situations.