The Irish Water Spaniel is an intelligent, hardy, and daring dog, having been bred to brave the cold North Sea as retrievers. They are a loving dog and are great with kids, and can be good with pets if properly introduced. They may not take to strangers, being shy or reserved. They should be socialized early on to avoid them becoming overprotective, or just mischievous. While they were bred to be hunting dogs, because of their tendency to not be vocal unless they detect something awry, they can also make a good watchdog. .