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It would be very easy to confuse an Irish Water Spaniel for a big brown Standard Poodle because the two breeds are very similar looking. However, they are two distinct breeds with the Irish Water Spaniel being a very skilled hunting dog and one that as their name suggests, loves being in and around water. Known for being very alert and extremely curious by nature, these lovely dogs are also renowned for their kind personalities although they can be a little wary when they are around people they don't know.
As with many other pure breeds, the Irish Water Spaniel is predisposed to suffering from quite a few health issues some of which are hereditary disorders whereas others are acquired. Anyone hoping to share their homes with one of these intelligent dogs should be aware of these health problems because knowing about them means symptoms will be noticed that much faster and as a rule of thumb the earlier a condition is treated, the better the prognosis tends to be.
With this said, not all Irish Water Spaniels will develop any health disorders during the course of their lives and the better bred a dog happens to be, the less chance there is of them inheriting any genetic conditions from parent dogs. This is just one of the reasons why contacting a reputable, well-established breeder is so important if you are thinking about getting a IWS puppy. The disorders that dogs can be screened for include the following:
As previously mentioned, Irish Water Spaniels are predisposed to suffering from several hereditary health disorders which include the following:
Hip Dysplasia - this can be a painful condition where thigh bones don't fit properly into a dog's hip joint which is often due to the fact that joint development has not formed properly when a dog is still a puppy. The problem may not be that noticeable with many dogs showing no signs of any discomfort even though they have developed the condition. Sadly, as time goes by and a dog gets older, a secondary health issue takes hold in the form of arthritis and this can make life quite miserable for an affected dog. Although, hip dysplasia is a hereditary health disorder, there are other reasons why a dog might develop the condition which includes the following:
Cataracts - this can be a condition that affects a dog's eyes due to old age, although some breeds are more prone to inheriting the disorder from parent dogs and the IWS is one of them. Their eyes become cloudy when they are still young and veterinary attention is needed sooner rather than later or a dog might end up going blind. If the cataract is age-related, surgical intervention would not be necessary, but if the cataract starts to develop early in a dog's life, a vet would be able to rectify the problem surgically. It's also important to bear in mind that cataracts can form on a dog's eyes as a secondary symptom of another underlying health issue with Diabetes Mellitus being one of them.
Follicle Dysplasia - this is a condition that affects a dog's coat with a loss of hair being a typical result of a dog having developed the condition. Irish Water Spaniels are prone to this skin disorder and symptoms start to manifest themselves when dogs are around 2 to 4 years old. The hair over their backs is first affected, but this quickly spreads to other parts of their body and although their coat is impacted, the condition does not affect a dog's overall health and well-being. With this said, a dog that develops any sort of skin disorder needs to see a vet sooner rather than later so a correct diagnosis can be made followed by an effective treatment.
Hypothydroidism - this is another condition that plagues the IWS where insufficient amounts of a hormone are produced by a dog's thyroid gland. There are certain symptoms to watch out for which includes a dog's coat becoming dry and brittle before it eventually falls out leaving their undercoat exposed to the elements. Luckily, with the advancement of veterinary medicines and treatments, vets are able to manage the disorder very efficiently and affected dogs go on to lead happy and long lives as long as they are given their daily treatment.
Allergies - the Irish Water Spaniel is also prone to suffer from allergies which could be triggered by several things. This includes food, something in their environment, dog shampoos and ordinary, common household products that contain certain chemicals. One common symptom of a dog having developed an allergy to an airborne allergen is when they develop ear infections.
Entropion - this is a health issue that affects a dog's eyes and usually becomes noticeable when they are around 6 months old. The condition sees a dog's eyelid roll inwards towards the eye which then means it rubs on a dog's eyeball causing a lot of irritation and discomfort. Dogs with the condition tend to rub their eyes incessantly making the condition worse and if you notice your dog doing this, it's time to get them to the vet. A vet would be able to rectify the problem through surgery.
Distichiasis - this is another condition that affects the breed where dogs have another row of eyelashes growing on the gland that produces oil in their eyes. This often causes a lot of irritation and dogs tend to squint a lot because light hurts their eyes. A vet would be able to remove the offending row of eyelashes surgically thus correcting the problem which should be done sooner rather than later to make life more comfortable for a dog.
Other conditions the breed is known to suffer from which are worth making a note of includes the following:
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