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Irish Water Spaniels with Russell Dodd: HDC Episode #23

Irish Water Spaniels with Russell Dodd: HDC Episode #23

Russell Dodd and Irish Water Spaniel pheasant hunting in the snow

Learn about upland and waterfowl hunting and AKC testing with a dog that bridges the span between a flushing spaniel and a water retriever

We start this episode with a discussion about the practice of tail docking. Depending on where you are located, this may be a well-accepted practice or it may be controversial or even banned. We discuss the historical context of docking tails as well as the modern applications for working and hunting dogs. It’s our hope that this will better inform your discussions when this topic comes up in dog circles.

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Our guest interview this week is with Russell Dodd, an AKC hunt test judge who has owned Irish Water Spaniels for many years. Although he grew up hunting, he did not get into bird hunting until he found this quirky dog breed who was at its best when hunting waterfowl and upland birds.

We discuss the characteristics of the Irish Water Spaniel, one of the last water spaniel breeds, and how it occupies an interesting space between the prey drive of traditional flushing spaniels and the devotion of traditional water retrievers. This “hybrid” personality may be seen as a versatile advantage or, perhaps sometimes, as an unwelcome surprise when the dog doesn’t always respond in the way that you expected. The bottom line, though, is that these are amazing dogs with an unquenchable desire to hunt in cooperation with their owner.

We also cover the details of AKC hunt tests for spaniels, which involve multiple testing segments covering upland hunting and water retrieving. While the Irish Water Spaniel may not be uniquely specialized for either of those tasks, its versatility makes it a great fit for AKC hunt tests.

It was also educational for two pointing dog owners to talk to someone who regularly hunts with a flushing dog. We discuss the safety elements involved in hunting with a spaniel and why steadiness is important for the dog’s safety and for the hunter’s peace of mind.

As always, we thank you for listening and invite you to submit feedback or questions to us at We would love to feature your questions in an upcoming episode! Record a voice memo and email it to us to be featured on the show and to have your question answered.

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Hunting Dog Confidential is presented by Eukanuba Premium Performance Dog Food and supported by Dakota 283, Syren USA, and Kent Cartridge.

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