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CHAPTER XX.
THE IRISH WATER SPANIEL.

EARLY in 1859 a considerable amount of correspondence appeared in the Field with regard to Irish Water Spaniels. There had been writers on the matter who knew little or nothing about the dog in question, and now inquiries were made as to what the Irish Spaniel was and what he had been. “Smack.” wrote of the “ St. Leger breed,” and of an excellent strain kept by Lord Erne; and the same week another admirer of the variety wrote from Dublin that, after long and diligent search, he found the “real Irish water spaniel one of the hardest animals to procure.” Further, he says the colour is almost invariably of “a rich liver; the coat long, curly, and matted ; the head peculiarly long, and almost hidden by long, silky ears, much longer than any English retrievers; the tail is thin and nearly destitute of hair; and, lastly, the animal stands high on his legs, which are thickly and closely feathered. It unites the sagacity of the poodle with the daring of the spaniel, and although, by reason of its coat, nearly useless in covert, still no day is too long, no water too cold; and happy indeed ought the wild fowler to be if he can procure a specimen of this invaluable and almost extinct breed.” The above and other letters brought a reply from Mr. M'Carthy, who had for long been looked up to as the authority on the variety, and his communication to the Field (February 19th, 1859) must be taken as the most important contribution on the subject that had hitherto appeared. From this description of his strain, the type of water spaniel was formed, and so it has continued to the present day. Mr. M'Carthy wrote —

“I have been the owner of the curly coated Irish water spaniel for the last thirty years, and have been, as it were, the godfather of most of those to be disposed of, the dealers always recommending their dogs by saying they are one of MI Carthy's real old breed.’ I have bestowed many scores of dogs and bitches to gentlemen in every county in Ireland and many parts of England, and bitches have been sent to me from every part of this country for the services of my celebrated dog Boatswain, the patriarch of all the highly-bred dogs in the country,

“There is in reality but two breeds of the true Irish Water Spaniel. In the north the dog has generally short ears without any feather, and is very often of a pied white and brown colour; in the south, the dog is of pure liver colour, with long ears, and well curled, with short stiff curls all over the body. The present improved and fancy breed, called M'Carthy's breed, should run thus: Dog from 21 inches to 22% inches high (seldom higher when pure bred), head rather capacious, forehead prominent, face from eyes down perfectly smooth, ears from 24 inches to 26 inches from point to point. The head should be crowned with a welldefined top-knot, not straggling across like the common, rough water dog, but coming down in a peak on the forehead. The body should be covered with small crisp curls, which often become clogged in the moulting season. The tail should be round without feather underneath, rather short, and as stiff as a ramrod; the colour of a pure puce liver without any white. “Though these dogs are of very high mettle, I have never found them untractable or difficult to train. They readily keep to heel and down-charge, and will find a dead or wounded bird anywhere, either in the open or in covert; but they are not partial to stiff, thorny brakes, as the briars catch in their curls and trail after them. It is advisable to give them a little training at night, so that in seeking objects they must rely upon their nose alone. For the gun they should be taught to go into the water like a duck; but when kept for fancy a good dog of this breed will take a flying jump of from twenty-five to thirty-five feet or more perpendicularly high into the water. “My old dog Boatswain lived to about eighteen years old, when, although in good health and spirits, I was obliged to destroy him. . . . A good, well trained dog of this kind will not be obtained under from 4 IO to £2O, and I have known A 40 or A 50 paid for one. They will not stand a cross with any other breed. . . . The pure breed has become very scarce; and although very hardy when grown up, they are very delicate as

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Following the above, some special interest appeared for a time to be taken in Irish spaniels, and Captain Lindoe, R.N., Mr. E. Montressor, Mr. J. T. Robson, Mr. R. W. Boyle, Captain O'Grady, Mr.

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