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Stacy Duncan | Flintcrest Irish Water Spaniels

Stacy Duncan of Flintcrest Irish Water Spaniels


Interview with Stacy Duncan, Breeder of Flintcrest Irish Water Spaniels


Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?

Stacy Duncan: I live in Snohomish, Washington. I was born into dogs as my parents were showing dogs long before I came along. Very lucky to be a second-generation breeder, owner, handler. My father, Tad Duncan, was a professional handler, so I was raised in the world of dog shows. My mother, Barbara Duncan, was incredibly skilled at kennel and breeding program management.

As any professional handler will tell you, especially coming from the generation of my parents, they can have a great influence over (and work in partnership with) their clients’ breeding programs, and so, at a very young age I was exposed to all elements of being a breeder.

My mother was a breeder as well, so it was part of the household growing up—all pieces of a successful breeding puzzle, from reading and understanding pedigrees, analyzing phenotype and genotype, breeding, whelping, dam and puppy care, puppy raising, home vetting, and puppy evaluations to placing the correct puppy with the correct home and being there for the life of that puppy and available to the owners for any questions, support, advice, and guidance.

I have been listed as a co-breeder on various breedings for many different breeds, starting from a young age. I’ve influenced many Irish Water Spaniel (IWS) breedings, including as a co-breeder alongside world-renowned Irish Water Spaniel breeder Colleen McDaniel, under the Whistlestop kennel name. I have supported the breeding, whelping, and raising of puppies before breeding my first, homebred litter of Irish Water Spaniels in 2014.


What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?

Stacy Duncan: When I decided it was time to breed my first homebred litter, I asked my parents how they would feel if I continued with their kennel name for my IWS. They both agreed without hesitation. So, in honor of them, I use Flintcrest as my kennel name. Right now, I have three dogs at home, two are intact and will be used in my breeding program. I plan to breed my girl this year; hopefully she plays along on the timing, but anyone who breeds dogs knows that things don’t always time as planned.


Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?

MBIS/MBISS/NBISS GCHB Poole’s Ide Got Water RN JH (Keegan), bred by Greg Siner of Poole’s Ide IWS, was my first big-winning IWS and set an incredible foundation for me and my future in the breed. Keegan was a 13-time All-Breed Best in Show winner, 5-time Best in Specialty Show winner, 2-time Group Placer at Westminster Kennel Club, and had many more accolades. Always Owner-Handled by me.

MBIS/MBISS/NBISS GCHS Whisltestop’s Fire & Ice JHU (Annah), bred by Colleen McDaniel and me, was a Keegan daughter out of CH Whistlestop’s The Wind Moriah CD RA JH (Moriah). This specific litter was truly a once-in-a-lifetime litter. The Keegan/Moriah breeding produced five Best in Show winners, which also includes the most-winning IWS in the history of the breed in both the US (Riley – GCH Whistlestop’s Riley on Fire, also a Westminster Kennel Club Group 1 winner), and the UK (Merlin – AM CH/SH CH Whistle Stop’s Elements of Magic CD RN SGWC, also a Crufts Gundog Group 1 winner). Breeder/Owner-Handled by me.

BIS/MBISS GCHB Stanegate It’s Showtime CD RN JH SHU DS (Ruckus), bred by Judith Carruthers in the UK, was a Keegan son out of Stanegate Sparks Will Fly and a stud puppy back to me for the breeding. Ruckus is my first All-Around Irish Water Spaniel as awarded by the IWSCA to recognize dogs that succeed by finishing their AKC Championship (CH), earning a Companion Dog title (CD), and a Junior Hunter title (JH). Ruckus accomplished an amazing feat by earning his final pass for his Junior Hunter title and winning Best in Specialty Show at the Irish Water Spaniel Club of Puget Sound on the same day. Now this was only possible due to the proximity of the Hunt Test and Specialty, but it was pretty impressive to see him transition between tasks without effort. Always Owner-Handled by me.

MBIS/MBISS/NBISS GCHB Flintcrest Five Star General CGC TKN (Grant) was bred by Colleen McDaniel and me out of GCHB Flintcrest Fully Monty and CH Madcap Cutty Sark CD RE SH. Grant is only four years old and, after a short show career that has been put on hold due to an injury to his neck, he has already accomplished so much. He is a 7-time Best in Show winner, 3-time Best in Specialty Show winner, and we had started field training with one HRC test passed. We are working very hard to get Grant fully recovered so that he can again do all the things he loves and fulfill his full potential. Always Breeder/Owner-Handled by me.

BISS GCH Flintcrest Flying Trapeze (Kelly), bred by Mary Westlake and me, is a Keegan daughter out of GCH Whistlestop’s Madame Butterfly CGC TKN (Sheena). I had been waiting for the perfect granddaughter to take back to Keegan to create the ever sought-after granddaughter/grandsire breeding. Sheena was the perfect girl to accomplish this breeding. Born in December 2020, Kelly is still young but is well accomplished. She finished her Championship at 18 months in July of 2022 with all points being earned from the Bred-By Class at either IWS Specialties/Supported shows or Sporting Dog Specialty shows, and with only being shown at ten (10) total shows, eight (8) with points available. Kelly went on to earn her Grand Championship in August of 2022 and has earned numerous Breed wins and Group placements since earning her Championship. Always Breeder/Owner-Handled by me.


Which have been my most influential sires and dams?

Stacy Duncan: Keegan started my program off on the best possible foot. He sired one of the most memorable litters that had the most incredible, record-breaking success (see above). Annah had one litter, and in that litter of 13 she produced eight champions. Grant has been used once, only siring one very promising puppy, and has a few more planned breedings on the books for 2023. I hope that Kelly will be an influential dam, but time will tell, hopefully, this year as well.


Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?

Stacy Duncan: My puppies are whelped and raised in the house. As they grow, their environment grows, and exposure changes to try to make them as prepared as possible for their forever homes.


What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?

Stacy Duncan: Having been raised in the world of dog shows, I picked up the skills my parents had for puppy selection. But honestly, the puppy’s personality is the first factor I consider when looking at each puppy and the available homes. There is no point in putting a beautiful show puppy with a soft personality in a show home that has no IWS experience. My job for my puppies is to place them correctly, so I use temperament testing in addition to the day-to-day observations of the puppies in different situations. For true hunting homes, I do like to expose puppies to bird wings, and if possible, a live bird to gauge interest. Raw instinct in an eight-week-old puppy is amazing to watch.


Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?

Stacy Duncan: I strongly believe in Performance and Companion events, but am not a diehard participant. I’ve personally participated in Dock Diving, Rally, and Field Training/Running Hunt Tests (both waterfowl and upland) and have titled dogs in those events. I’ve had a personal dog achieve their companion dog (CD), but at the hands of a far more talented trainer.


Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to me?

Stacy Duncan: I fully believe that an IWS with natural instincts should be given the opportunity to participate in field training. Many years ago, I was told that Keegan was too “pretty” to hunt. Well, within a month or so of that statement, I had started working with a field trainer to prove that show dogs can do what they are bred to do. It’s very important to me that Irish Water Spaniels do not get split between show dogs and field dogs. That divide has not proven healthy for any breed that has experienced it. Each of my IWS are given the chance and introduced to birds. If they respond well, we continue with training.


Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?

Stacy Duncan: IWS are seeing a notable rate of cancer in the breed. The challenge is that it is different types, triggered at different age ranges, and presents no clear patterns in parentage either.


Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?

Stacy Duncan: Simple answer – NO. As a rare, low entry breed, I do worry about the future of the Irish Water Spaniel.


Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?

Stacy Duncan: I usually misquote the Spiderman movie when I talk to potential homes about an IWS puppy. I like to say, “With GREAT intelligence comes GREAT responsibility” (instead of “with great power comes great responsibility” like in the movie). IWS are smart, and if intellect is not guided and exposed to the world, it can create challenges. I encourage all puppy buyers to understand the need for exposure and training at a young age. If you put in the energy, you’ll create an amazing companion. I also like to express the need for an IWS to have a job. If an owner does not pick that job, the puppy will pick it and the owner might not like their selection. Harness that intelligence, give it job, and make the best dog possible.


What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?

Stacy Duncan: The biggest misconception is that the IWS is not suitable to be a family pet. This is simply not true. Do puppy owners need to put in some work? Absolutely. IWS do not have the same personalities as a Golden Retriever, but with a little effort they can make wonderful family pets.

The breed itself is the best-kept secret of the Sporting Group. Our community jokes and says, “You don’t have to hunt with an ugly dog.” (No offense intended to any other hunting breeds.) The Irish Water Spaniel is a wonderful breed, truly the clown of the Sporting Group, a highly intelligent dog with unlimited potential to be trained to do just about anything asked of it.


If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?

Stacy Duncan: Size matters. The IWS Breed Standard is clear on size, including direction on height and weight, but it’s also important to keep in mind that the breed should have sufficient bone, a barreled ribcage, and be balanced. Tall, lanky animals with no ribcage are not the ideal IWS. The breed needs the proper amount of bone and rib spring to do its job. Picture hunting in the muck, mud, and other tough conditions of an Irish Bog and you’ll see why the IWS Standard is written to describe a dog that can withstand such conditions.


Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?

Stacy Duncan: Work with a mentor. Learn about this amazing breed and do your very best to stay true to what an IWS is intended to be as you create the next generation.


For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?

Stacy Duncan: Looking back, I can laugh about this event, but at the moment it happened I was completely mortified. I was showing an Irish Water Spaniel named “Woody” (MBISS SH CH, Fin CH, Dk CH, N CH, S CH, Am CH, Fynder Freethinker) who was here from England to finish his American Championship and be used at stud while here (one of which created my heart dog, Keegan, who is mentioned above).

Woody was, to put it nicely, very enthusiastic in and outside the show ring and was a significantly-sized dog who was strong and motivated to be in the ring at all times. I was trying to do some training with him outside the Group ring to harness his drive, but he simply couldn’t stand being ringside and not in the Group ring. So, he broke the leash he was on, jumped the fence, and ran around the Group ring during the Hound Group at a local show. He was having his own little party and enjoying every second of running free.

Luckily, all of the Hounds were welcoming to their Sporting Dog intruder. Very funny, looking back (and so Irish in his antics). Woody was an amazing dog and he never lost that zeal for life, fun, and freedom.



Are you looking for an Irish Water Spaniel puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?

Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.


Want to help rescue and re-home an Irish Water Spaniel dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.


Irish Water Spaniel Breed Magazine

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Read and learn more about the brave Irish Water Spaniel dog breed with articles and information in our Irish Water Spaniel Breed Magazine.


Irish Water Spaniel Breed Magazine - Showsight


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