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  • Writer's pictureJohn

4 x Paw - The Curious Incident Of The Tweed Spaniel!


Norham being located in a rural setting is an idyllic place to live or visit. Many of us have pets either equine, feline, winged or something else. This blog looks at ‘Man’s best friend’ (Not Dr. Who’s electronic dog K9) but the animal canine variety. Apparently the first person to coin this phrase was King Frederick of Prussia (1740-1786) who referred to one of his Italian Greyhound as his ‘best friend’.

Dog breeds have been created over the centuries by selective breeding to enable a dog for a specific task such as hunting, guarding and rescue or for companionship. So if you own a wee pooch (for ex southerners like me ‘wee’ is Scottish/borders for small) or gentle giant, Norham and the surrounding areas are a great place for us and our four legged friends to enjoy river, forests, hills, and the beach walks to name a few.

If you own a Golden retriever it is possible that it may be a distant relative of a dog that was one bred in the village. The now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel from the village of Norham in Northumberland was noted as being 'long famous' for a breed of water spaniel that were invariably brown and became extinct in the 19th century. They were a type of water dog and were possibly developed by crossing St. John’s water dog with local water dogs. They were known for their intelligence, sporting ability, and courage.

By the end of the 19th century they were gradually replaced by the Golden Retriever. The main pairing from which the Golden Retriever descended was between a Wavy-Coated Retriever and a Tweed Spaniel. The resulting puppies were yellow in colour which led to the development of the Golden Retriever. Similar to the Irish Water Spaniel, this breed had a long tail and a curly liver coat. It was distinguishable from the Irish Water Spaniel by its heavier muzzle and more pointed skull. The forelegs were feathered but not its hind legs. Tweed Water Spaniels were the size of a small retriever.

The actual link to the Tweed Spaniel is below.

Below is a link to a brief YouTube video.

(Or search on Google the keywords ‘tweed water spaniel extinct’ for alternative web links.)


"Water Spaniel" painting by John Carlton (1864)


Incidentally, the name for the material Tweed was an accident as originally it was called Tweel. A story is that the name came about by almost chance. Around 1831, a London merchant received a letter from a Hawick firm, Wm. Watson & Sons, Dangerfield Mills about some "tweels". They misinterpreted the handwriting, understanding it to be a trade-name taken from the River Tweed and the goods were subsequently advertised as Tweed and the name has remained since.


As I finish writing this blog, our two are sitting watching me attentively after assisting with the remnants of the Christmas turkey (one of whose legs were used for the main blog picture) awaiting the words as used by Barbara Woodhouse, ‘Walkies!’


Information shared from wiki,

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