(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)

General Appearance

The Irish Water Spaniel presents a
picture of a smart, upstanding strongly
built sporting dog. Great intelligence is
combined with rugged endurance and a
bold, dashing eagerness of
temperament. Distinguishing
characteristics are a topknot of long,
loose curls, a body covered with a
dense, crisply curled liver colored coat,
contrasted by a smooth face and a
smooth "rat" tail.

Size, Proportion, Substance

Strongly built and well boned, the Irish Water Spaniel is a dog of medium
length, slightly rectangular in appearance. He is well balanced and shows
no legginess or coarseness. Dogs 22 to 24 inches, bitches 21 to 23
inches, measured at the highest point of the shoulder. Dogs 55 to 65
pounds, bitches 45 to 58 pounds.


The head is cleanly chiseled, not cheeky, and should not present a short,
wedge shaped appearance. The skull is rather large and high in the dome,
with a prominent occiput and a gradual stop. The muzzle is square and
rather long, with a deep mouth opening and lips fine in texture. The nose
large and liver in color. Teeth strong and regular with a scissors or level
bite. The hair on the face is short and smooth, except for a beard which
grows in a narrow line at the back of the jaw. Topknot A characteristic of
the breed, consists of long, loose curls growing down into a well-defined
peak between the eyes and falling like a shawl over the tops of the ears
and occiput. Trimming of this breed characteristic in an exaggerated
manner is highly objectionable. Eyes--Medium in size, slightly almond
shaped with tight eyelids. Eyes are hazel in color, preferably of a dark
shade. The expression is keenly alert, intelligent, direct and quizzical.
Ears--Long, lobular, set low, with leathers reaching about to the end of the
nose when extended forward, and abundantly covered with long curls,
extending two or more inches below the tips of the leathers.

Neck, Topline, Body

The neck is long, arching, strong and muscular; smoothly set into cleanly
sloping shoulders. Topline--Strong and level, or slightly higher in the rear;
never descending, or showing sag or roach. Body--The body is of medium
length, slightly rectangular. Chest deep, with brisket extending to the
elbows. Ribs well sprung and carried well back. Immediately behind the
shoulders ribs are flattened enough to allow free movement of the
forelegs, becoming rounder behind. Loin short, wide and muscular. The
body should not present a tucked-up appearance.


The entire front gives the impression of strength without heaviness.
Shoulders are sloping and clean. Forelegs well boned, muscular, medium
in length; with sufficient length of upper arm to ensure efficient reach.
Elbows close set. Forefeet are large, thick and somewhat spreading; well
clothed with hair both over and between the toes.


Sound hindquarters are of great importance to provide swimming power
and drive. They should be as high or slightly higher than the shoulders,
powerful and muscular, with well developed upper and second thighs.
Hips wide, stifles moderately bent, hocks low set and moderately bent.
Rear angulation is moderate, and balance of front and rear angulation is of
paramount importance. Rear feet are large, thick and somewhat
spreading; well clothed with hair. Tail should be set on low enough to give
a rather rounded appearance to the hindquarters and should be carried
nearly level with the back.


The so-called "rat tail" is a striking characteristic of the breed. At the root
it is thick and covered for two or three inches with short curls. It tapers to
a fine point at the end; and from the root curls is covered with short,
smooth hair so as to look as if it had been clipped. The tail should not be
long enough to reach the hock joint.


Proper double coat is of vital importance to protect the dog while working.
The neck, back, sides, and rear are densely covered with tight, crisp
ringlets, with the hair longer underneath the ribs. Forelegs are well
covered with abundant curls or waves. The hind legs should also be
abundantly covered by hair falling in curls or waves, except that the hair
should be short and smooth on the front of the legs below the hocks. The
hair on the throat is very short and smooth, forming a V-shaped patch. All
curled areas should be clearly defined by curls of sufficient length to form
a sharp contrast with the smooth coat on face, throat, tail, and rear legs
below the hocks. Fore and hind feet should be well clothed with hair both
over and between the toes. Dogs may be shown in natural coat or
trimmed. However, no dog should be groomed or trimmed so excessively
as to obscure the curl or texture of the coat.


Solid liver. With the exception of graying due to age, white hair or
markings objectionable.


The Irish Water Spaniel moves with a smooth, free, ground covering
action that, when viewed from the side, exhibits balanced reach and drive.
True and precise coming and going. When walking or standing, the legs
are perpendicular to the ground, toeing neither in nor out.


Very alert and inquisitive, the Irish Water Spaniel is often reserved with
strangers. However, aggressive behavior or excessive shyness should be
penalized. A stable temperament is essential in a hunting dog.


The foregoing description is that of the ideal Irish Water Spaniel in hard
working condition. Any deviation from the above described dog must be
penalized to the extent of the deviation, keeping in mind the importance of
the various features toward the basic original purpose of the breed.

Approved June 12, 1990
Effective August 1, 1990

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