This dog is an IWS mixed with either golden or flat-coated retriever. A liver IWS bred to a golden with black pigment will produce black puppies.
This cross tells me that IWS are not that distinct from the other retrievers, and the old name “Irish retriever” may be a better way of understanding what they are.
Water spaniels are ancestral to retrievers, but this particular breed of water spaniel still exists. It’s the only one left in the whole of the British Isles.
Most people think all spaniels are land spaniels, but even retrievers can do spaniel work. Goldens can do the same behaviors for which English springers are known.
The line between retriever and spaniel is a bit fuzzy, although the main retrievers have “Newfoundland” ancestry that spaniels don’t have. I read a source that said some St. John’s water dogs were cross with IWS at some point, but I haven’t been able to verify it. The extinct Tweed water spaniel was a mixture of St. John’s water dog and some kind of water spaniel. It looked more or less like a yellow or reddish curly-coated retriever with just a bit more bone.
I’m sure the Murray River curly-coated retriever folks who read this blog will be interested in looking at this dog. She resembles their dog very closely, but she’s black in color.
Also compare this dog with the late Shuttle, the golden who used to be in my header. Their heads have similar shapes.