The IWS is generally a healthy breed, however there are issues that affect dogs including IWS and these issues should be considered before breeding or buying a puppy
Hips: Hip Dysplasia can cause lameness and pain. It is strongly recommended that IWS have their hips X rayed and scored under the joint BVA/KC System. The scores are rated from 0 to 53 on each hip, with 0 being the best and 53 the worst outcome. The combined score should be no more than the mean average of 10. This is an important consideration if considering breeding from your IWS.
Elbows: Elbow Dysplasia can cause lameness and pain. It is strongly recommended that IWS have their elbows X rayed and scored under the joint BVA/KC System. The scores are rated from 0 to 3 on each elbow, with 0 being the best. It is recommended that IWS with a combined score of higher than 1 should not be bred from. This is an important consideration if considering breeding from your IWS.
All hip and elbow scores are registered with KC and published on KC Breed Mate Select website. Both the IWSA & SIWSC advise owners to do both Hip and Elbow scoring.
Eyes: Although there is no specific issues recorded with the IWS eyes, the IWSA recommends that IWS have an annual eye test. This will enable any potential issues to be recorded and if necessary investigated. Both the IWSA and SIWSC recommend that eye testing should be carried out.
Group Study - your input needed
An ongoing group study of Irish Water Spaniels is being set up look into the health of the breed. For the foreseeable future the study will be a rolling study open to all Irish Water Spaniels, regardless of their breeding and country of origin.
The study aims to follow the life of an IWS, without anonymity, from the age of 8 weeks.
If you have an IWS puppy aged 12 months or under and would be interested in taking part please contact the collator, Susan Kewan.
Participants will be emailed a questionnaire for completion after their dog's first birthday.
For those who join the study an annual questionnaire will be sent out electronically in the month of the dog's birth.
An annual report will be issued at the Irish Water Spaniel Association's AGM.
Please be aware that this is a long term project and it may be a few years before any meaningful information comes to light.
May we take this opportunity to thank you for your participation and look forward to a healthy future for the Irish Water Spaniel.
Some IWS suffer from Epilepsy, although the causes are varied. The Irish Water Spaniel Association is currently one of fifty breeds taking part in the 'Give a Dog a Genome' project being run by the Animal Health Trust. The IWSA has contributed to this project with funds from the legacy left in the Will of the late Ank ter Kuile. In doing this the money put forward has been doubled with a grant of £1000 from the Kennel Club.
16 breeds have elected to have dogs with epilepsy swabbed. Of the swabs from IWS we sent a dog has been selected to have the swab analysed. The fact that 16 breeds are involved in this research hopefully gives us more chance of identifying a genome that might be responsible, so that in the future it may be possible to eradicate this disease.
We would like to reach out to IWS owners to help with this research.
Unfortunately our breed is too small to be a selected breed in the trials but we can help by sending in samples of biopsies and blood from dogs who are suspected of having cancer. Please email David Wilcox - Breed Health Representative to KC.
Coat Problems / Hair Loss
Sadly, some IWS do suffer from hair loss as they get older. Two studies in to this phenomenon have been published in the veterinary press. You can download these to read by clicking on the links below.
(R. Cerundolo, D.H. Lloyd and H.G. Pidduck - The Veterinary Record November 1999)
(R. Cerundolo, D.H. Lloyd, P.E. McNeil and H. Evans - Veterinary Dermatology November 2000)
List of Vets that X-ray Hips and Elbows Under Sedation