152 DOGS AND ALL ABOUT THEM
seen at his best, though, no doubt, he can do excellent work as an ordinary retriever, and is often used as such.
But Nature (or Mr. McCarthy's art) has specially formed and endowed him for the amphibious sport indicated above, and has provided him with an excellent nose, an almost waterproof coat, the sporting instincts of a true son of Erin, and, above all, a disposition full of good sense ; he is high-couraged, and at the same time adaptable to the highest degree of perfection in training. His detractors often accuse him of being hard-mouthed, but this charge is not well founded. Many a dog which is used to hunt or find game as well as to retrieve it, will often kill a wounded bird or rabbit rather than allow it to escape, while there are many Irish Water Spaniels who, under normal circumstances, are just as tendermouthed as the most fashionable of black Retrievers. Besides his virtues in the field, the Irish Water Spaniel has the reputation-a very well-founded one-of being the best of pals.
Most people are well acquainted with the personal appearance of this quaint-looking dog. The points regarded as essential are as follows :
Colour-The colour should always be a rich dark liver or puce without any white at all. Any white except the slightest of " shirt fronts " should disqualify. The nose of course should conform to the coat in colour, and be dark brown. Head-The head should have a capacious skull, fairly but not excessively domed, with plenty of brain room. It should be surmounted with a regular topknot of curly hair, a most important and distinctive point. This topknot should never be square cut or like a poodle's wig, but should grow down to a well defined point between the eyes. Eyes-The eyes should be small, dark, and set obliquely, like a Chinaman's. Ears-The ears should be long, strong in leather, low set, heavily ringleted, and from 18 to 24 inches long, according to size. Muzzle and Jaw-The muzzle and jaw should be long and strong. There should be a decided " stop," but not so pronounced as to make the brows or forehead prominent. Neck-The neck should be fairly long and very muscular. Shoulders-The shoulders should be sloping. Most Irish Water Spaniels have bad, straight shoulders, a defect which should be bred out. Chest-The chest is deep, and usually rather narrow, but should not be so narrow as to constrict the heart and lungs. Back and Loins-The back and loins strong and arched. Fore-legs--The fore-legs straight and well boned. Heavily feathered or ringleted all over. Hind-legs-The hind-legs