4. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? MA: An outgoing temperament, strong sturdy body and proper coat—particularly texture. MF: I “must have” a moderate gundog with a distinctive head/coat/tail, a unique silhouette, spirited/animated temperament, and must demonstrate, both standing and on the move the ability for dual purpose. HG: Besides the temperament, the dog must be balanced (top to bottom; front to rear), with correct mouth and in sound, hard condition. Then I would work on the breed- specific points. VL: Balanced with good bone, correct liver color, crisp curls, topknot, low set tail and large, thick feet. WP: Top knot, rat-tail, absolutely correct breed temperament. JR: The proper texture of coat, along with the topknot, give me the uniqueness. Strong structure make for a working mud lark with proper balance that completes the picture. 5. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? MA: A trait of the exhibitor/handler to totally blow the entire coat out rather than have a tightly packed curly coat. MF: Other than some extreme grooming styles, the breed, not unlike the Curly Coated Retriever has maintained type and has not been led down a path of extremes. I wish I could say the same for the majority of the Sporting breeds. HG: Too open a side gait, especially in the rear and therefore not balanced. VL: Some degree of over grooming; temperament can always be an issue as these Irishmen can at times have vivid imaginations about bad things that are going to happen to them in the ring. Annie always said they saw “spirits” hovering. WP: Over-angulated rear quarter. JR: I must admit that I think some exhibitors get carried away with trimming. It is easy for this to happen, but often curls and texture are sacrificed for outline. AY: We are so lucky that this very old, unique breed has been carefully protected by several dedicated breeders in this county. 6. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? MA: I think the overall quality is better now, except for the couple of great dogs that I have seen over the years.
WP: He is much more than the clown of the spaniels, because he is a top-notch gun dog with brains and trainability and is eager to please. JR: Type on all breeds is distinctive. It is what makes them a purebred but I think that the Irish Water Spaniel has more than its share of idiosyncratic breed points, which do not lend themselves to taking a generic dog in the ring. “i must Admit thAt i think some exhibitors get cArried AwAy with trimming. it is eAsy for this to hAppen, BUT OFTEN CURLS AND TEXTURE ARE SACRIFICED FOR OUTLINE.” 3. Describe the breed in three words. MA: Exuberant, funny and willing to please. MF: Unique, moderate and gundog. HG: This is hard to do; however—solid, personality and functional. VL: Strength, eagerness with a wicked sense of humor (yeah I know that is more than 3 words!) WP: Temperament, type and athletic. JR: I always think of coat, tail and ruggedness and therefore I am always aware of this when I judge. AH: Three phrases I would use to describe him are upstand- ing, unique liver curly coat and rat tail. These are the very distinguishing characteristics that make him a water spaniel and not something else.
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