Irish Water Spaniel Breed Standard
The Irish Water Spaniel presents a picture of a smart, upstanding strongly built sporting dog. Great intelligence is combined with rugged endurance and a bold, dashing eagerness of temperament. Distinguishing characteristics are a topknot of long, loose curls, a body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat, contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth "rat" tail.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Strongly built and well boned, the Irish Water Spaniel is a dog of medium length, slightly rectangular in appearance. He is well balanced and shows no legginess or coarseness. Dogs 22 to 24 inches, bitches 21 to 23 inches, measured at the highest point of the shoulder. Dogs 55 to 65 pounds, bitches 45 to 58 pounds.
The head is cleanly chiseled, not cheeky, and should not present a short, wedge shaped appearance. The skull is rather large and high in the dome, with a prominent occiput and a gradual stop. The muzzle is square and rather long, with a deep mouth opening and lips fine in texture. The nose large and liver in color. Teeth strong and regular with a scissors or level bite. The hair on the face is short and smooth, except for a beard which grows in a narrow line at the back of the jaw. Topknot--A characteristic of the breed, consists of long, loose curls growing down into a well-defined peak between the eyes and falling like a shawl over the tops of the ears and occiput. Trimming of this breed characteristic in an exaggerated manner is highly objectionable. Eyes--Medium in size, slightly almond shaped with tight eyelids. Eyes are hazel in color, preferably of a dark shade. The expression is keenly alert, intelligent, direct and quizzical. Ears--Long, lobular, set low, with leathers reaching about to the end of the nose when extended forward, and abundantly covered with long curls, extending two or more inches below the tips of the leathers.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is long, arching, strong and muscular; smoothly set into cleanly sloping shoulders. Topline--Strong and level, or slightly higher in the rear; never descending, or showing sag or roach. Body--The body is of medium length, slightly rectangular. Chest deep, with brisket extending to the elbows. Ribs well sprung and carried well back. Immediately behind the shoulders ribs are flattened enough to allow free movement of the forelegs, becoming rounder behind. Loin short, wide and muscular. The body should not present a tucked-up appearance.
The entire front gives the impression of strength without heaviness. Shoulders are sloping and clean. Forelegs well boned, muscular, medium in length; with sufficient length of upper arm to ensure efficient reach. Elbows close set. Forefeet are large, thick and somewhat spreading; well clothed with hair both over and between the toes.
Sound hindquarters are of great importance to provide swimming power and drive. They should be as high or slightly higher than the shoulders, powerful and muscular, with well developed upper and second thighs. Hips wide, stifles moderately bent, hocks low set and moderately bent. Rear angulation is moderate, and balance of front and rear angulation is of paramount importance. Rear feet are large, thick and somewhat spreading; well clothed with hair. Tail should be set on low enough to give a rather rounded appearance to the hindquarters and should be carried nearly level with the back
The so-called "rat tail" is a striking characteristic of the breed. At the root it is thick and covered for two or three inches 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 it had been clipped. The tail should not be long enough to reach the hock joint.
Proper double coat is of vital importance to protect the dog while working. The neck, back, sides, and rear are densely covered with tight, crisp ringlets, with the hair longer underneath the ribs. Forelegs are well covered with abundant curls or waves. The hind legs should also be abundantly covered by hair falling in curls or waves, except that the hair should be short and smooth on the front of the legs below the hocks. The hair on the throat is very short and smooth, forming a V-shaped patch. All curled areas should be clearly defined by curls of sufficient length to form a sharp contrast with the smooth coat on face, throat, tail, and rear legs below the hocks. Fore and hind feet should be well clothed with hair both over and between the toes. Dogs may be shown in natural coat or trimmed. However, no dog should be groomed or trimmed so excessively as to obscure the curl or texture of the coat.
Solid liver. With the exception of graying due to age, white hair or markings objectionable.
The Irish Water Spaniel moves with a smooth, free, ground covering action that, when viewed from the side, exhibits balanced reach and drive. True and precise coming and going. When walking or standing, the legs are perpendicular to the ground, toeing neither in nor out.
Very alert and inquisitive, the Irish Water Spaniel is often reserved with strangers. However, aggressive behavior or excessive shyness should be penalized. A stable temperament is essential in a hunting dog.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Irish Water Spaniel in hard working condition. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation, keeping in mind the importance of the various features toward the basic original purpose of the breed.