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The Irish water spaniel consists of two distinct varieties, pecnliar to the North and South of Ireland. The Northern dog has short ears, with little feather either on them or on the legs, but with a considerable curl in his coat. In colour he is generally liver, but with more or less white which sometimes predominates, so as to make him decidedly white and liver. The South country Irish water spaniel is, on the contrary, invariably of a puce liver colour. Ears long and well feathered, being often two feet from point to point, and the whole coat consisting of short crisp curls.
Body long, low, and strong, tail round and carried slightly down; but straight, without any approach to feather. The celebrated breed known as “ M-Carthy's” is thus described by that gentleman in "The Field” newspaper.
“ The present improved and fancy breed, called M‘Carthy's breed, should run thus :-Dog from 21 to 22} inches high (seldom higher when pure bred), head rather capacious, forehead prominent, face from eyes down perfectly smooth, ears from 24 to 26 inches from point to point. The head should be crowned with a well-defined 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 daggled in the moulting season ; the tail should be round without feather underneath, of the two rather short, and as stiff as a ramrod; the colour of a pure puce liver without any white. Though these dogs are generally of very high mettle, I have never found them intractable or difficult to be trained ; 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 briers catch the curl and trail after them. It is advisable to give them a little training at night, so that in seeking objects they must rely upon the 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 25 to 35 feet, or more, perpendicular height, into the water. My old dog “ Boatswain ” lived to be about eighteen years old, when, although in good health and
spirits, I was obliged to destroy him. When going abroad in 1849, for some years, I gave my breed to Mr. Jolliffe Tuffnell, of Mount-street, Merrion-square, Dublin, son of the late Col. Tuffnell, of Bath. His dog Jack, a son of my dog Boatswain, is known particularly as a sire to every one in Ireland, and to very many in England. A good well-trained dog of this breed will not be obtained under from 101. to 15l. or 201., and I have known as much as 401. and 501. to be paid for one. They will not stand a cross with any other breed; the spaniel, setter, Newfoundland dog, and Labrador dog, &c., perfectly destroy coat, ears, tail, and symmetry; added to which, the cross-bred dog is very difficult to dry. If any cross would answer, I should say the bloodhound, which would give at least head, and ears, and nose. I have bred with the greatest care, giving the highest prices for good dogs to cross my own.
I still have a first-rate bitch of the breed. It is essential for gentlemen purchasing puppies to see both sire and dam, as in this breed it is very easy to be imposed upon in a young one. The true breed has become very scarce ; and although very hardy when grown up, they are very delicate as puppies.-J. M-C."
The celebrated “Doctor” family, which have carried away all the prizes of late years, answer fully to the above description which is beautifully rendered by Mr. Earl.
The poodle was probably originally a water spaniel, but he is now used solely as a house dog, in this country at all events. See
The English Sheep-Dog. - The Colley. - The Drover's Dog. - The German Sheep-Dog. Pomeranian Wolf-Dog.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Dogs. - The Esquimaux Dog. - The Greenland Dog. --The Iceland and Lapland Dogs.
THE ENGLISH SHEEP-DOG.
The English sheep-dog is tolerably represented in the annexed engraving, but there are so many different breeds that it is difficult
to describe him very exactly. He has a sharp muzzle, mediumsized head, with small and piercing eyes; a well-shaped body, formed after the model of a strong low greyhound, but clothed in thick and somewhat woolly hair, which is particularly strong about the neck and bosom. The tail is naturally long and bushy, but, as it has almost invariably been cut off until of late years, its variations can hardly be known. Under the old excise laws the shepherd's dog was only exempt from tax when without a tail, and for this reason it was always removed; from which at last it happened that many puppies of the breed were born without any tails, and to this day some particular breeds are tailless. In almost all sheep-dogs there is a double dew-claw on each hind leg, and very often without any bony attachment. The legs and feet are strong and well formed, and stand road-work well, and the untiring nature of the dog is very remarkable. The colour varies greatly, but most are grey, or black, or brown, with more or less white.
Such is the true old English sheep-dog, but a great proportion of those in actual use are crossed with the various sporting dogs, such as the setter, which is very common, or the pointer, or even the hound ; and hence we so often find the sheep-dog as good in hunting game as in his more regular duties, while a great many are used as regular poaching dogs by night, and in retired districts by day also.