I was reading a book this morning that had reference to a Tweedside Water Spaniel. The author was giving his own account as to the value of a good retriever in the Highlands of Scotland. He differentiates between the Irish and the Tweedside so they must have had their differences which makes the image of Belle in the Guiaschan photo even more plausible.
In pheasant shooting two varieties of the dog, not already treated of, are used—the cocker or spaniel, and the retriever. Both may be used with advantage in other kinds of shooting, the retriever being invaluable, and far too little employed by sportsmen. The retriever, as his name implies, is simply any dog which recovers and fetches game when killed, as some pointers and setters do by nature, while others of these varieties are so taught, especially on the Continent. This is an accomplishment, however, these breeds are much better without. But a proper retriever should be a powerful dog, patient, and quite under command, and never leaving your foot until told to do so. The Irish and Tweedside water spaniels make good retrievers, but want power, to secure which a cross with a genuine Newfoundland dog is recommended. A perfect retriever must possess a good nose, strength, and steadiness, and must take to water freely—acquire these qualities by any manner of breeding whatever. He must be soft-mouthed, i.e., he must not injure game while carrying, but, like Isaak Walton with the frog, use them as though he loved them. The produce of a strong Newfoundland dog with a gentle-tempered setter slut is as good as can possibly be advised. Such will both hunt covert well, doing quietly the work of a dozen noisy boys, and retrieve wounded and dead game successfully through goodness of nose derived from the dam. But as good and bad qualities in dogs are hereditary, the young sportsman need not pay particular attention as to how the good qualities have been obtained by crossing, provided that they are there, and cannot do better than purchase the progeny of proved parents, regardless of the breed—this being quite a different thing from setters or pointers, which have a certain specific and instinctive work to do, independent of general sagacity. Retrievers are seldom thoroughly trained until two years old; they cannot be broken-in at once like the pointer—hence the best are those which have followed a keeper’s steps from puppyhood, and their price is high when perfect in all their parts. In fact, no dog is so valuable to the sportsman, yet, notwithstanding, they are not used to nearly the extent they deserve. A retriever saves time, game, money for beaters, and also saves labour in trapping, by recovering dead game which would otherwise be lost, and serve for food for all sorts of running vermin, which are thus drawn into ground where retrievers are not used.
“Scottish field sports: a volume of mingled gossip and instruction” – By James Dalziel Dougall 1861