The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the native breeds of Ireland, along with the Irish Terrier, Glen of Imaal Terrier and Irish Wolfhound, among others. The Irish Water Spaniel (IWS) dates back at least 1,000 years and is believed to be the descendant of the Dobhar-chu (translates as water hound), a mythical creature from an Irish folklore.
There is speculation that its genetic makeup was developed from more than one ancient spaniel breed. However, there was no historical evidence to support such theory since the acknowledged father of the Irish Water Spaniel, Justin McCarthy, did not leave any records. Although few breeds were suggested as its ancestry including the Poodle, Barbet, Portuguese Water Dog, some Northern and Southern Water Spaniels and even the now-extinct English Water Spaniel.
All these are mere speculations without substantial proof, but one thing is for sure the Irish Water Spaniel has ancient roots. The modern Irish Water Spaniel we see today was developed in Ireland in the 1830s in the name of Boatswain. This particular Irish Water Spaniel lived from 1834 to 1852, siring a couple of excellent hunting and show dogs. In 1862, the first Irish Water Spaniel appeared in a dog show in Birmingham, and in 1899 in the field trial.