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FCI-Standard N 124 / 08.11.2002 / GB
IRISH WATER SPANIEL
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Ireland.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD: 13.03.2001.
UTILISATION: The Irish Water Spaniel can be easily adapted to
suit most forms of shooting he will hunt, often point and retrieve
readily from heavy cover. The construction and nature of the breed
has traditionally made it the choice of the wildfowler.
CLASSIFICATION FCI: Group 8 Retrievers, Flushing Dogs, Water
Dogs. Section 3 Water Dogs. With working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: The exact origins of the breed remain
obscure. Generally it is thought that Water Spaniels evolved from
dogs that originated in Persia and came to Ireland via Spain. The
first Irish reference to " water dogs that pursue water fowl" dates
from 1600, so we know that dogs with waterproof coats were used in
Ireland even before the advent of the fowling piece. There is no
real evidence of the ancestry of the Irish Water Spaniel except in
its most peculiar feature-the rat tail. This feature appears in no
similar dog and makes it very likely that the modern breed had an
indigenous Irish ancestor. The tail has given rise to the names "
Whip Tail" and " Rat Tail". In any event the descendants of these
dogs were accepted and achieved great success on show benches in the
second half of the 19th century. In 1890 the Irish Water Spaniel
Club was formed to promote the interests of the breed.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: Smart, upstanding, strongly built, compact or
BEHAVIOUR/TEMPERAMENT: Proud, combining great intelligence and
endurance with a bold and dashing eagerness of temperament, immense
stamina and loyalty. A good family dog with a sense of humour but
discerning with strangers.
HEAD: Skull and head should be of good size.
Skull: Skull high in dome, good length and width allowing for large
brain capacity. Top-knot 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.
Face: perfectly smooth. Hair grows in a narrow line forming a beard
at the back of the lower jaw.
Nose: Large and well developed and of dark liver colour
Muzzle: Long, strong and somewhat square in appearance
Teeth: Strong and regular with scissors bite.
Eyes: Comparatively small almond-shaped, dark amber or dark hazel
and very intelligent looking.
Ears: Very long and lobe-shaped in the leather, set low, hanging
quite close to the cheeks and covered with long, twisted curls of
NECK: Fairly long, strong and arching, (enabling the head to be
carried well above the level of the back) and strongly set into the
BODY: Should be of good size, being as a whole so proportionate as
to give a barrel-shaped appearance accentuated by the springing of
the ribs, overall strong and well- muscled.
Back: Short, broad and level, strongly coupled to the hindquarters.
Loins: Deep and wide.
Chest: Deep, but not too wide or round between the forelegs, though
large girth with ribs well sprung behind the shoulders. Ribs carried
TAIL: Smooth, strong and thick at root (where it is covered for 3 to
4 inches - 7.5cm to 10cm with short curls), and gradually tapering,
ending in a fine point. It should not be long enough to reach the
hock joint, and should be carried nearly level with the back in a
Shoulders: Very powerful and sloping.
Forelegs: Well boned and straight, the forearm at point of elbow in
a straight line with the highest point of the shoulder blade.
HINDQUARTERS: Very powerful.
Stifles : Well bent stifles.
Hocks Hocks set low.
FEET: Large, somewhat round and spreading, well covered with hair,
both over and between the toes, but free from any superfluous
GAIT/MOVEMENT: The gait has a characteristic peculiar to the breed,
that of a rolling motion produced by the barrel-shaped ribcage.
HAIR: Dense, tight, crisp ringlets, entirely free from woolliness
but with a natural oiliness. The back and sides of the neck should
be covered with curls similar to those on the body, the throat
should be smooth, the smooth hair forming a V-shaped patch from the
back of the lower jaw to the breastbone. The forelegs covered with
feather, which should be abundant all round though shorter in front.
Below the hocks, the hindlegs must be smooth in front, but feathered
behind down to the feet.
COLOUR: A very rich puce liver, white on chest objectionable.
Dogs 21/23 inches (53/59cm)
Bitches 20/22 inches (51/56cm)
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault
and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should
be in exact proportion to its degree.
White on Chest.
Paleness of coat.
Woolliness of coat.
Feather on front of Hocks.
Want of feather on front of forelegs.
Feather on stern.
Feather on face.
White on feet.
NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully
descended into the scrotum.