Irish Water Spaniel dog breed is of ancient lineage. In the late 1100s, dogs found in southern Ireland were referred to as Rat-tail Spaniels, Whip-tail Spaniels, Shannon Spaniels or Irish Water Spaniels. In 1607, a book author wrote of the ‘Water Spagnel’ with his rough, curled hair and somewhat bare tail. The Irish Water Spaniel and the Poodle may share the same ancestors since they have so many traits in common. Though it would appear the breed was well established, there may have been two or more varieties. It remained for a gentleman named Justin McCarthy to combine these and develop the modern Irish Water Spaniel. His best-known dog was Boatswain (1834-1852), who left a strong impression of clear type on the Irish Water Spaniel breed.
Irish Water Spaniel Temperament: Alert and inquisitive, the Irish Water Spaniel is often called the clown of the spaniel family and can be somewhat frustrating when his mind is on some task of his own. Despite his size, the Irish Water Spaniel is a gentle dog with those he regards as friends. However, he can also be protective of owner and property.
General Appearance: That of a smart, upstanding, strongly built but not leggy dog, combining great intelligence and rugged endurance with a bold dashing eagerness of temperament.
Irish Water Spaniel
Size: Height: Dogs, 22-24 inches (56-61 cm); Bitches, 21-23 inches (53-58 cm). Weight: Dogs, 55-65 lb. (25-29 kg); Bitches, 45-58 lb. (20-26 kg).
Coat and Colour: Proper coat is of vital importance. The neck, back, and sides should be densely covered with tight crisp ringlets entirely free from woolliness. Hair should be longer under the ribs. The hair on lower throat should be short. The forelegs should be covered all around with abundant hair falling in curls or waves, but shorter in front than behind. The hind legs should also be abundantly covered by hair falling in curls or waves, but the hair should be short on the front of the legs below the hocks. Colour: solid liver; white on chest objectionable. Head Skull rather large and high in Colour solid liver; white on chest objectionable.
Head: Skull rather large and high in dome with prominent occiput; muzzle square and rather long with deep mouth opening and lips fine in texture. The head should be cleanly chiseled, not cheeky, and should not present a short wedge-shaped appearance. Hair on face should be short and smooth. Topknot, a characteristic of the true breed, should consist of long loose curls growing down into a well-defined peak between the eyes and should not be in the form of a wig, i.e., growing straight across. The nose should be large with open nostrils and liver in colour. Teeth strong and level. Eyes medium in size and set almost flush, without eyebrows. Colour of eyes hazel, preferably a dark shade. Expression of the eyes should be keenly alert, intelligent, direct, and quizzical. Ears long, lobular, set low with leathers reaching to about the end of the nose when extended forward. The ears should be abundantly covered with curls becoming longer towards the tips and extending two or more inches below the ends of the leathers.
Neck: The neck should be long, arching, strong, and muscular, smoothly set into sloping shoulders.
Forequarters: The entire front should give the impression of strength without heaviness. Shoulders should be sloping and clean. Forelegs medium in length, well boned, straight, and muscular with elbows close set. Both fore and hind feet should be large, thick, and somewhat spreading, well-clothed with hair both over and between the toes, but free from superfluous feather.
Body: Body should be of medium length, with ribs well sprung, pear-shaped at the brisket, and rounder towards the hindquarters. Chest deep but not too wide between the legs. Ribs should be carried well back. Loins should be short, wide and muscular. The body should not present a tucked-up appearance.
Hindquarters: The hindquarters should be as high as or a trifle higher than the shoulders and should be very powerful and muscular with well-developed upper and second thighs. Hips should be wide; stifles should not be too straight; and hocks low set and moderately bent. Tail: Should be set low enough to give a rather rounded appearance to the hindquarters and should be carried nearly level with the back. Sound hindquarters are of great importance to provide swimming power and drive.
Tail: The so-called ‘rat tail’ is a striking characteristic of the Irish Water Spaniel dog breed. At the root it is thick and covered for 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) with short curls. It tapers to a fine point at the end, and from the root-curls is covered with short, smooth hair so as to look as if the tail had been clipped. The tail should not be long enough to reach the hock joint.
Gait: Should be square, true, precise and not slurring.
Link: Irish Water Spaniel club