JUDGING THE IRISH WATER SPANIEL By Greg Siner A s the class enters the ring my mind goes to the first part of the standard. I am looking for a “smart, upstanding, strongly conversational voice. Most IWS will be more relaxed if they observe the people around them acting “normal.”
The next thing I want to see is a flowing and balanced side-gait as I take the class around for the first time. The standard clearly says “Moves freely and soundly with balanced reach and drive.” It is now time to start the indi- vidual exams. ALWAYS approach an Irish Water Spaniel from the front and without hesitation but with respect. The standard states “May be reserved with strangers”. It does not mean there should ever be any aggression. The stan- dard further states they are “very alert, inquisitive and active.” If you act unsure they will pick up on it and may back away. I never talk to the dog as I first approach it. It is better if I have some- thing I want to say to talk to the han- dler and not directly to the dog. And if I do say anything it is done is a normal
Th e first thing I want to see is a head that stays true to the standard but matches the dog. Extremes of either overly course or overly snipy are not correct. Th is is a dog that should be able to handle many types of birds with ease. Th e standard calls for a muzzle that is “long, deep and somewhat square in appearance.” It goes on to say “with a strong underjaw” again noting the need to be able to manage a bird of decent size. Th ey say the eyes are the window to the soul. A proper eye makes the expression in the IWS. Th e standard says “ Th e expres- sion is keenly alert, intelligent, direct and quizzical.” And the color should be warm shades of brown to dark amber to aid the
built moderate gundog” that must have the distinguishing characteristics of this breed “a topknot of long, loose curls and body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth “rat” tail. This is breed “type.” The standard goes on to say “A well- balanced dog that should not appear leg- gy or course.” Also “strongly built and well-boned.” Th is is the image that is in my head while I am getting my first impression of the dogs in the class.
“ALWAYS approach an Irish Water Spaniel from the front and WITHOUT HESITATION BUT WITH RESPECT.”
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