Who Gave The Irish Water Spaniel That Tail?

With apologies to Christians, we offer this quote: “She hath more qualities than a Water Spaniel which is much in a bare Christian.”  Thank William Shakespeare for that passage for appears in, “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

It was a legend, however, that gives us insight into the breed’s conformation. As the story goes, St. Paddy had been given lodging for the night by a fisherman who owned a liver-colored dog particularly adept at catching fish. The dog had grown out of his puppy coat, but the poor thing’s tail was still profusely covered with so much hair that it was impeding his ability to work. St. Patrick said nothing about this during his stay. When the fisherman awoke the next morning, he discovered a big change in his dog: The Spaniel’s tail was no longer bushy, but covered only with short curls at its base, the rest of the tail as smooth as a rat’s tail.

And here you thought it was because of selective breeding. Ha.

The story is may be attributed to the late Alan Stern, former AKC breed columnist 

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4 thoughts on “Who Gave The Irish Water Spaniel That Tail?”

  1. It’s more than “thought” to be attributed to Alan. It was in an article that he wrote for the AKC Gazette when he was breed columnist. It’s probably from sometime between the 60s & early 80s.

  2. I enjoy the little post about the irish Water Spaniel.
    Can I translate and use them to put in our breed members magazine in Holland?
    Off course with a source mentioning.
    Thank you.

    • Hello Jim, thanks for writing and for asking to post a translation (not everyone asks!). We’d be honored for you to share the article with your breed members, and if it’s not too much trouble, we’d love to get a link to it when you’ve posted it!

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