This section is from the book "Sporting Dogs. Their Points And Management In Health, And Disease", by Frank Townend Barton. Also available from Amazon: Sporting Dogs; Their Points and Management in Health and Disease.
There are said to be two distinct types of Irish Water Spaniels, one coming from the South and the other from the North of Ireland. The former is usually pure liver-coloured, with long and well-feathered ears, whereas the latter has short ears, and the liver colour mixed with considerable white.
One of the most characteristic features of the Irish Water Spaniel is his " top-knot," consisting of a crown of hair from the occiput to between the eyes, leaving the temples free. These Spaniels, to a sportsman of but slender means, in particular, cannot be over-valued. They are, so to speak, born to water, and in their element when retrieving wild-duck in the depth of winter, requiring very little tuition.
A famous dog of this variety, and one that had a wonderful show-bench career, was Mr Skid-more's Larry Doolan. The writer remembers this dog very well, as he was shown from north to south, east to west.
Irish Water Spaniel Pat O'Brien (Property of Major Birkbeck).
In colour, these Irishmen should be a dark liver, free from any white hairs, unless it be a very small patch on the breast, or toes. A boiled liver (sandy) colour is objectionable.
Large, of the same colour, and the Eyes a deep amber.
High in the occipital dome, and of good width. A good top-knot essential.
Set on low, having long cartilage (15 to 20 inches), and well feathered, the hair in this region being wavy and profuse.
Hair on tail short, and straight, blending the curls, towards its set-on, with those on the stern. Tail, whip-like.
Long and well set up, blending below with strong shoulders.
A deep chest, strong back and loins, are necessary for the working capacity of the breed.
Very important. To consist of tight, crisp curls all over body, and limbs. Fifteen per cent, of points go to the coat.
Not more than 24 inches, or less than 20 inches.
To win, the Irish Water Spaniel must look proportionate all over, be active, have a tight curly coat and a good top-knot, carry the head well up, be keen in facial expression, have a cat-like tail, and look as though he would be ready to dive at the word of command—in fact a workman from top-knot to tail.
Total absence of top - knot, a fully feathered tail and much white hair will disqualify. An open woolly coat, light in colour, cording of hair, Setter feathering on legs, and a moustache, are objectionable, and should tell heavily against an Irishman in the show-ring.
55 to 65 lbs.
The Irish Water Spaniel Society.