The background of Torann (Greensocks Flying Dutchman)
Pedigree dog people, particularly breeders and those who show them, are a strange bunch when it comes to their "purebred" breeds. Despite the fact that all dogs in the world, whether they are pedigrees or mutts belong to one species: Canis familiaris, the domestic dog, pedigree dog people relate to their different breeds as if they are different species.
Whilst pedigree dogs have many advantages, most notably they are generally predictable in what will be produced in terms of colour, size temperament etc when it comes to what the average owner really wants, namely a long lived, health dog, pedigrees can unfortunately come up short.
This is primarily as a result of how pedigree dogs came about in the first place and the results are often severely genetically compromised breeds that suffer high levels of cancer in younger dogs, high levels of autoimmune diseases; high levels of inherited diseases; issues with fecundity and reduced lifespansSir Patrick Bateson's independent enquiry into dog breeding. Studies have shown that the average lifespan of the IWS is around 8-9 years and a large proportion will die from cancer at an early age (7 years and younger).
Because dog breeds were developed from relatively few individuals the genetic diversity required to keep them healthy at a breed level just isn't there. Kennel Clubs then closed the stud books meaning no "new blood" could be introduced.
Genetic diversity in what is known as the Dog Leukocyte antigen part of the major histocompatibility complex is key in relation to the dog's immune response and selection of genes by breeders ( all be it unintentional) that increase the likelihood of auto immune diseases and reduce the immune response to other pathogens, such as cancer lie behind the health issues with many pedigree dog breeds. Furthermore, small gene pools and close breeding increase the chance of deleterious alleles (versions of a gene) surfacing and causing inherited diseases.
For many breeds, including the IWS, and despite the health blindness of many of their breeders their very survival depends on increasing their breeds' genetic diversity. The only realistic way of doing this is to introduce genetic variation from sources other than the same breed.
This is where Torann comes in.

In the 1990s a German breeder living in France, Inge Fischer (Kennel name Donais) decided enough was enough regarding her IWS, many of whom died from cancer at an early age and then several suffered from epilepsy. So she set about crossing her IWS with her Barbets, an ancient French water dog which almost certainly, was involved somewhere along the line in the development of the IWS. Considered a heretic by many, an enlightened breeder ahead of her time by a few, this line was continued by Anneliese and Michael Roeterdinck de Haan.
They were persuaded to keep Maureen, whose dam was half barbet and half IWS after losing three IWS at 18 months, 30 months and 6 years.
Inge Fischer wrote about her IWS/Barbet breeding and this is shown below.
Meanwhile, Anneliese and Michael carried on the good work, having two litters, one from Maureen herself and one from her daughter. Torann is from the second litter.

Here is a great family photo: In the centre is Maureen, Torann's grandmother and whose Dam was half Barbet and half IWS. To the right of Maureen is Torann and to the right of him is his mother Liffey (Maureen's daughter).
Missie and Kenzie are both sisters of Toran. Photo copyright Michael Roeterdinck de Haan.


By Inge Fischer.

It is said that, at the Fish Market in Hamburg, you can buy whatever you like, from a white mouse to an elephant, (if the Hagenbeck Zoo can spare one)! From a trustworthy source, we have it that you can even buy fish there.

At the request of many, I have traced the history of the Three from the Hamburg Fish Market back to their roots.

To begin with, there was our Dicke, who, point-blank, refused to give up her maidenhood to two blue-blooded Irishmen. (Later, our true Irish Water Spaniel, Paddywack, took her by storm and, in 1999, she gave us what we regard as our best Donais litter.) Dicke was in love with Oschi, but he was her uncle. Then, as Oschi fell ill, she chose our original Barbet, the black Houdini, Barboche, as her favourite. So why not let nature take its course?

In the meantime, I had an Irish Water Spaniel breeding line in which many dogs died from cancer at a young age. In the other line, suddenly, were two cases of epilepsy. To mix in new blood through a healthy male from a natural/rustic breed cannot be bad for a breed with a small gene pool; at least, not, if in the next generations, careful selections take place.

On 7th December 1998 Dicke gave birth to a litter of pitch black, curly, wire and wavy-haired puppies with beards: pitch black, as black is dominant over liver puce and, moreover, we knew from earlier matings (Barbet x Barbet) that Barboche does not carry the grey factor, (his coat is still deep black, even at the age of 11); wire haired, bearded and curly because wirehaired is dominant over a long coat. (The Irish Water Spaniel coat counts as long, though slightly modified, with the short parts of the coat causing other problems in the breed.)

From this litter, I chose to keep Locke. On 31st October 2000 Locke gave birth to a litter by my Irish Water Spaniel, Racker. As Locke carries liver, she whelped both black and liver puce puppies, all with Astrakhan curly coats. Three of these I saw in my dreams as Irish Water Spaniels for sale at the Hamburg Fish Market: Barchen, Maureen and Helle. Meanwhile, they enjoyed themselves with Irish Water Spaniels and waterdogs round and about our farmhouse where not one of our many visitors, most of them knowledgeable about dogs, had any doubts at all that they were purebred! For the time being we did not answer questions about their background because we wanted to wait and see how they turned out.

All three showed great passion for game. Barchen and Maureen are also eager to kill all kinds of vermin. At seven months of age, my little Maureen with the dark brown eyes, (who until then, had been Georgy’s TV lapdog) was kidnapped by Annelies and Michael Roeterdink. Soon afterwards, Helle went to a French couple who had bred and worked Epagneuls de Pont Audemur for many years. Barchen stayed with us.

At the Championship Show in Paris 2001, Barchen and Maureen were shown to the Chairman and three other judges from the French Spaniel Club who authorised their confirmation. That means that they conform to the Breed Standard, so they received their papers “a titre initial” and they can take part in and Qualify at field trials and shows. Their registered names, starting with the letter “R”, (for the year of birth 2000), are R’Barenfang and R’Bloody Mary. By now Helle has also been confirmed and her name is R’Helle. She and Maureen will be bred from. Theirpuppies will then at least have parents named in their official papers.

With this blood infusion we hope to have contributed to a broadening of the gene pool, (and improvement in health), of the breed.                  


This is Torann on the right with two of his sisters, Missy (left) who lives in Germany and Kenzie, who lives in Holland.