Irish Water Spaniel Club of America

Click here to edit subtitle

For Newbies

No pressure, but…  the future of the IWS is in your hands

We welcome newbies!  If this is your first Irish Water Spaniel, or if you are now ready to take your commitment to this rare and vulnerable breed to a new level, this is your page.


The well being of the Irish Water Spaniel depends upon active, committed owners who want to invest in the breed’s future.  The fact that you are here reading this is step one (do you hear the thumping of wagging tails – that’s for you!)

How can I help the Irish Water Spaniel?

  • Owning one is a good place to start!  Call one of our BEC breeders listed here to see if there are any owners in your region and/or pups available.

  • Join the IWSCA to stay informed on health updates, training, clinics, performance events and to meet other wonderful, passionate IWS owners.  Here’s a link for a membership application:

  • Test your dog! Even if your dog is spayed or neutered, the single best thing you can do for this breed is to learn about the CHIC protocol and test your dog.  This means getting an OFA-specific xray of your dog’s hips and elbows, and a CERF evaluation of its eyes, and an OFA evaluation of its thyroid.    The results will be posted on the CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) website.  This valuable information will help breeders ensure they breed only healthy dogs to healthy dogs. If all of this is Greek to you, go to the Home page to read more about CHIC and/or click here.

  • Love your dog?  CHIC your dog!

  • Get involved in the Club!  Introduce yourself on the Rattails Yahoo list, the forum for members of the IWSCA. (ask to join by sending us an email request to:

  • Volunteer for a committee: Publicity, membership, specialty, newsletter, etc – if you have an inclination to volunteer, we have a committee for you.

  • Become a Facebook friend of the IWSCAClick here to say hello, post pictures of your dog, and see the photos of IWS owners around the world.

  • Get involved in performance events! It’s a fun way to bond with your dog, engage your dog’s brain and give him/her a needed job to burn off IWS energy.  It’s also fun to hang out with other IWS and dog enthusiasts.  Dog shows, field hunting, agility, dock diving, obedience, therapy dogs, tracking… on and on!  This is one of the most versatile breeds in the dog world.  Ask the folks on the Rattails forum or call your breeder for information on how to get started.  And read the wonderful story (below) about one man’s experience when he suddenly got “bitten” by the bug of competition! Remember:  the more you put into your dog, the more you will get in return.

  • Consider letting your breeder use your dog for future breedings. Talk to your breeder to see how you can make the ultimate commitment to the breed’s future! The IWS has a very small and vulnerable gene pool.  We need more puppies from a diverse set of sires and dams.  If your dog has passed his/her CHIC tests you hold the key to the future health of this breed.  Talk to your breeder to see how she/he would mentor you in this undertaking. 

13 Months 16 Days:  An Improbably Journey, by Chuck Turner

Read how an otherwise sensible and mature man gets bitten by the dog show bug… and ends up on the ride of his life.

“…October.  We are practicing heeling, down, sit, stay.   Dublin is a challenge.   I try to stay cool and collected.  He looks for mischief.  He is smart but willful and he exhausts me, the instructor – and even perfect Annie.  After class I head home for a stiff drink and mull over my situation: I’ve got this assertive, active outgoing Irish Water Spaniel.  He is strong. He thinks he is smarter than me.(“…well,” says my wife.)  I realize this is going to be tougher than I thought…

After eight weeks, we got a diploma; which he ate; honestly…”

Chuck Turner & Dublin

To read the entire wonderful story, click here.
From the Newbie Files

Articles from the IWSCA newsletter

Have you Hugged a Newbie Today?  by Maria Nation March newsletter, 2010

“…The IWSCA is a small club and, for the most part, everyone likes it that way.  In 2009 Irish Water Spaniels ranked 150th in the list of most popular breeds. (To put this into perspective, more people own Lowchens, Plotts and Norwegian Buhunds than our brown curlies.) It’s okay.  The gene pool is small and the long-term health of the breed requires slow and thoughtful management. Becoming the next “It Dog” like the French Bulldog (73rd most popular in 1999, 24th in 2009) would be a disaster for our rare breed.  And yet pulling some new blood into the world of the IWS is essential.   …Enter the newbie…”

To read the whole article, click here. 

Winning the Big One: A newbie talks to Kim Kezer and Mindy Garbarino  by Maria Nation  August newsletter, 2010

“…Winning wasn’t the most important thing on Kim’s mind.  As usual, she was just proud to show off her field-oriented girl and, truth be told, Kim just loves doing stuff with Fiona.  But win the class she did, which meant she qualified to enter the biggest conformation class of the Specialty:  Best of Breed, open only to champions and winners.   Best of Breed is the Big Kahuna of conformation classes...”

To read the whole article, click here.

Life and Death and the IWSCA by Maria Nation  October newsletter, 2010

“…The Newbie is too “newbie-ish” to know the history of wounds that cleave the club or to remember who is on whose “side” or to fully understand the controversies that suddenly cause the usual battle positions to be taken.  Surely there are philosophical differences – that is to be expected.  But there is so much more that unites us:  a shared love of dogs, and this breed in particular.   The unique needs of this rare breed, the quirks of the Irish temperament, and the health issues that plague them.  Surely there are more common interests that can unite us than there are differences to fight over, right?...”

To read the whole article, click here.

Do you have a “newbie” story to share?  If so, send it to for possible publication in the IWSCA newsletter.

Photo credits: Sean McLaughlin, Mrs. Chuck Turner