Rare Irish breed catches the judge's eye

Irish Water Spaniel are one of only nine native Irish dog breeds

A Kells woman and her faithful pooch are looking forward to more even more dog shows having claimed the rosettes at Virginia to qualify for some illustrious finals.

Irish Water Spaniel are one of only nine native Irish dog breeds, and Niamh Hoey's dog is a very fine example.

“They are actually quite a rare breed, there's not too many around. He's 15 months old and yeah, we won today!”

An excitable Rosco is feeding off the post-win good vibes exuding from Niamh.

“He has a great temperament, he is good, but he hasn't been to a show in a while, so he's a bit scatty today.”

“He's not still fully trained,” she adds, explaining her time is also devoted to training horses.

The rosettes Rosco claimed were in the classes for gun dog, rare breed and Irish native breed, which means as Niamh says: “We're qualified for Ballinasloe, Clonaslee and Beltra.”

Of this trio of major dog titles up for grabs, it's The All Ireland Irish Native Breed Dog Championship in Ballinasloe that Niamh's eyeing up for Roscoe.

“The native breed would be the one I would most look forward to. I'd be hoping there might be no other water spaniels and that might go in my favour, because there's not many of them.”

Niamh aims for Rosco to win enough stars to gain the credentials of Irish Champion, and then have him as a stud dog. She also says he has the pedigree to venture to dog shows beyond these shores.

“He could go to Crufts yes, he could go. But it's whether I put the work in or not. It takes work and a lot of grooming, but it can be done.”