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Irish Water Spaniel


 

Original Works of art

Group: Sporting
Breed Family: Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is the last survivor of a number of breeds and regional variations of Water Dogs and Water Spaniels which existed in the British Isles. The breed’s history is not clear but many accept that it was developed from a strain of Water Spaniels in the south-west of Ireland which displayed an abnormality of hair growth. The ‘father’ of the breed was a Justin McCarthy of Dublin and his dog Boatswain (1834-1852) is credited as being the first Irish Water Spaniel as we know the breed today.

Classes for the breed were at the Third Birmingham Show for Sporting and Other Dogs held in 1862. At this show the first prize in the class for dogs was withheld, but the winner of the bitch class was C.E.N. Lloyd’s dog Bell who has the distinction of being the first Irish Water Spaniel entered in The Kennel Club Stud Book.

It was first as a wildfowling dog that the breed found its way to other countries, and by the end of the nineteenth century it was as popular in America as in its native islands, with many of the top British and Irish dogs having crossed the Atlantic. Between 1880 and 1920 the Irish Water Spaniel was the most popular of retrievers, in the days when large bags of waterfowl were common. The Field Dog Stud Book of 1922 shows that the breed outregistered all other retrieving breeds. Irish Water Spaniels were exhibited at the first Westminster Kennel Benched Show in New York in May 1877.

 

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