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Posts Tagged ‘Water Spaniels’

water spaniels ben marshall

 

These “spaniels” were owned by Mrs. Orby Hunter and were painted by Ben Marshall.

Their names were “Diver” and “Shuckleback.”

Diver is a barbet/English rough water dog/poodle type of water dog, but Shuckleback looks like a proto-curly coated retriever.

Maybe a bit of St. John’s water dog had been crossed in, or maybe he was of a sort of water dog that is part of the St. John’s water dog’s ancestry.

I imagine the Tweed water dogs being very similar to Shuckleback, just of the yellow or reddish coloration.

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From JakeIWS.

This dog’s name is “Jake,” and his is searching for a toy in the River Spey.

He has lots of drive and naturally quarters and casts in search of his beloved toy.

It is a shame that this is last of the water spaniels from the British Isles. (Its origins are within the Republic of Ireland.)

At one time, the IWS was the top trial retriever in the US. It dominated the Field Dog Studbook, and it was very common.

Today, it’s not very common at all. In the US, I would not call them rare, but they aren’t easy to find.

In Britain, the breed is considered highly endangered. There is another retriever on that list that is also considered endanged, the curly-coat. I know that breed is endangered because I’ve never seen one.

I have seen IWS. They are really interesting dogs.

They remind me of Rowlf from the Muppet Show. However, I’ve never seen one with such a penchant for playing classical music on the piano.

rowlf

In fact, I’m not the only person who has made this connection.

This is a video of an IWS named Rowlf.

From auswomble

And here’s the piano-playing Rowlf. See the resemblance?

From aarnis.

I am developing a bit of soft-spot for these dogs. They are one of the the original retrievers. Before the St. John’s water dog and the retrieving collies and setters, there were water spaniels.

And not only that, they remind me of one of my favorite television from my childhood.

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"A Water Spaniel" by George Stubbs

“A Water Spaniel” by George Stubbs.

This dog is from a painting by George Stubbs, one of the better known practitioners of the English school of painting. This dog resembles a poodle, a barbet, or a Spanish or Portuguese Water Dog. It has a golden or Labradoodle look to it as well. 

Modern Irish water spaniels have smooth hair on their faces, as do American water spaniels. As I have stated before, Tweed water spaniels from Scotland had short, wavy hair. Nothing like this dog.

“Wooly” water dogs were once quite common throughout Europe. These dogs essentially disappeared in Britain by the nineteenth century, but they were still common in France and Germany. Those along the Baltic Coast of Germany would be the main ancestors of the poodle.

Some suggest that these dogs are of an Iberian ancestry, noting the Portuguese and Spanish water dogs. However, I think they are somehow related to the herding breeds, especially the puli. The Germans had a sheep poodle breed, and the Dutch Sheep poodle (Schapendoes) still exists.

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Hello,

This is the first post on this blog. Let me tell you I have in mind for it!

I am a person who has some training in historiography and social science methods. I also have a background in golden retrievers, which are the fourth most popular dog in the United States, according to American Kennel Club registrations. Originally a retriever of waterfowl and descended from the St. Johns Water Dog (as are ALL retrievers), the golden has shifted from a hunting dog belonging to the British aristocracy to a  pet. Some enjoy the talents of a working retriever in the field, using those talents to flush and retriever game. Others use those talents in creating sniffer dogs for bomb and contraband or train the dogs in search in rescue. The talents that made the golden a hunting retriever are used in all of those tasks; however, the golden is rarely chosen to be a competitor in retriever field trials.

One of the reasons for this shunning in field trials is that goldens are such beautiful animals and are easily trained. They are widely recommended as family pets because of their good nature. Whole generations of goldens have been bred that have never fetched a duck or flushed a pheasant. These dogs make up the majority of the breed throughout the world. In Europe, the tendency has been to breed goldens with more muscle and bone than could ever be practical in a field dog, while in North America, the tendency has been to breed much more feathering on the dog. When one has to compete against a short-haired dog that can swim very fast (the Labrador) that has well-established working lines, it becomes obvious that the golden is not going to be the field trial competitor’s first choice. Goldens are known for their high trainability, even in the lines that are not bred for work, but the field trial Lab has been selected through the generations to be a retriever trial specialist.

Although I am not currently a breeder of goldens, I would like to have contact with those who are working on producing the working golden, one that can compete with the Lab. I see no reason why selective breeding cannot produce a golden that can work as well in the field as the Labrador, except that there are not enought people out there who consider the golden a working retriever.

The golden has proven to be a superior competitor in obedience and dog agility competition. Goldens have dominated the Lab in obedience and dog agility. However, the golden is often thought of in the field as being the more hard-headed of the two most common retriever breeds. A disconnect must exist here, and I think it has more to do with selective breeding. Generations of Labradors are bred for the field trial, and its peculiar environment. There are specialist lines of Lab that have done nothing but win trials. A short-haired dog is also more streamlined and can swim faster than a long-haired dog. The Lab is also more accepting of harder corrections than the golden, in general. Most retriever trainers use corrections that might be a little strong for a more sensitive dog like a golden.  All of these factors might explain why the Lab is the field trial dog, and the golden is the “swamp collie.”

First of all, let’s talk about how we got golden retrievers.

Here is a look at some goldens of the 1920’s:

Silence of Tone, Noranby Black -Eyed Susan, Ch. Noranby Diana & Noranby Jane--Note that Noranby Diana is dark and appears lightly built and is a show champion!

Silence of Tone, Noranby Black -Eyed Susan, Ch. Noranby Diana & Noranby Jane--Note that Noranby Diana is dark and appears lightly built and is a show champion!

The original golden was considered a variety of the wavy-coated retriever, which became the flat-coated retriever. The golden was considered part of the flat-coated breed until 1920 in the United Kingdom (by the Kennel Club) and 1925 in the United States (the American Kennel Club). The golden retriever club of America was not founded until 1938, and the breed was very rare.
If you don’t believe me about the flat-coated retriever’s close relationship with the golden compare the dogs in the first picture with a modern flat-coat:
The flat-coated retriever still maintains its working ability and its lighter build for fast retrieval work. However, the breed is often considered more difficult to train than goldens and Labs, but this breed is far rarer than either of those two breeds, even though the three were interbred extensively!

The flat-coated retriever still maintains its working ability and its lighter build for fast retrieval work. However, the breed is often considered more difficult to train than goldens and Labs, but this breed is far rarer than either of those two breeds, even though the three were interbred extensively!

 Because the golden was a color variety of the flat-coat, the two breeds have a very similar history. They both derive from the St. Johns Water dog, often thought of as the ancestral Labrador. These were crossed with setters (each region in Britain had its own setter, like the Welsh black setter), water spaniels (of which there were many, many varieties) and working collies to produce a dog that would retrieve game that was shot.

In the early to mid-nineteenth century, economic conditions had led to the development of new economic titles. Romanticism was deep within Britain’s intelligentsia and economic elites. Many people with means to buy land were purchasing estates in Scotland and rural England solely for the purpose of having a shooting estate. Game-keepers raised pheasants for their master’s gun, and the wealthy began to want a dog to pick up shot game. The retriever is the dog developed for this purpose. Originally, the dogs used for this task were water spaniels, which are rather old breeds. They are mentioned in Shakespeare, and often described as a cross between a land spaniel and a “water dog.” A water dog is a dog much like a poodle or a Portuguese water dog. A cross between the two would look something like a cockapoo or one of the other poodle hybrids. However, selective breeding for a mixture of spaniel and water dog traits could result in a dog very similar to the Irish water spaniel and the American water spaniel. The most important water spaniels in the development of retrievers are two extinct breeds: the English water spaniel, which was often liver and white or black and white in color, perhaps similar to the English Springer spaniel into which some of these dogs were absorbed, and the Tweed water spaniel from the Scottish Borders region, which was “liver,” meaning like a chocolate Labrador or pale cream to a tawny coloration.)

The St. Johns Water dog comes from Newfoundland, and its exact ancestry is an utter mystery. Some think it was mixture setters, water spaniels, and hounds that were brought to Newfoundland by settlers and fisherman. Others think that Iberian breeds played a role in it, because Portuguese and Basque fisherman had long frequented the Grand Banks fishery. The breeds of that type usually suggested are the Portuguese and Spanish water dogs and any of the Iberian livestock guarding mastiffs, particularly the Cao de Castro Laboreiro, which resembles a brindle Labrador. Brindle was a coloration of the St. Johns Water dog, so the speculation is rather strong that this breed or its ancestors played a role in its development. Although one does wonder why a livestock gurdian dog would be accompanying Iberian fishermen. The other mastiffs of the region are also suggested, like the Great Pyrenees and the Spanish Mastiff.  One of the reasons why this is discussed is the modern Newfoundland has definite ancestry with the St. Johns Water Dog. It would make sense, then, that big mastiffs were in that breed’s background. However, it’s just as likely that the original Newfoundland was not of the large mastiff type at all. There is a great debate that has long raged through the dog fancy about what the “original” Newfoundland looked like. It is possible that the modern Newf has been bred from the St. Johns Water Dog when it was crossed with mastiffs when it became extremely popular in Europe as a pet. In fact, the Newfoundland was the dog that was ever marketed as a family pet. It was once as popular as Labrador, its close relative, is today. The St. Johns water dog was crossed with setters, water spaniels, and collies to make the first retrievers. The most common type in the early to mid-nineteenth century was the wavy-coat, but the curly-coated retriever was also quite common. The difference between the two was not as obvious as one would think. The curly was not the tightly curled dog of today, and the wavy-coat sometimes had a straight coat! The curly had a much closer ancestry with water spaniels and possibly the last remaining water dogs. It does closely resemble the Wetterhoun of West Friesland in the Netherlands. Both breeds are more protective than the Labrador, golden, and flat-coated breeds.
Curly-coated Retriever:
The curly-coated retriever was in development before the importation of St. Johns water dogs from Newfoundland. However, it was crossed with it at some point. It shows a very strong water spaniel ancestry and may include the last remaining European water dogs in its ancestry. It was once a very common breed.

The curly-coated retriever was in development before the importation of St. Johns water dogs from Newfoundland. However, it was crossed with it at some point. It shows a very strong water spaniel ancestry and may include the last remaining European water dogs in its ancestry. It was once a very common breed.

Wetterhoun:
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This concludes “Golden Retriever History I.”  Continued with “Golden Retriever History II,” which will be coming soon!

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