Saint Patrick's Day - Strange Animals of Ireland
- Water Dogs
By: Tippy & Alfred
Legends of the Lakes and Rivers of Ireland
Irish Crocodile, Master-Otter, Dobhar-Chu, Water-dog, Anchu
The water dog or Dobhar-Chu is a fierce animal that is seen
in the Irish and Scottish bog lands. It is described as a
big otter-like creature covered with fur that is usually
black, having big feet, and a long neck and tail. Some
people believe this to be a baby "Nessie" or infant version
of the Loch Ness Monster, although these appear to be
mammals where as the Loch Ness Monster is described usually
as reptilian or eel-like in nature.
Some water dogs have been reported to have white
underbellies and still others were all white except for the
tips of their ears, which were black. These are very
aggressive animals that will attack humans and dogs, pulling
them into the water and savaging them. Unlike the otters we
know and love for their playfulness these otter-like
creatures are anything but playful. (Although the common
river otter doesn't appear so playful to a fish, I suppose.)
All accounts tell of these creatures attacking in a team.
One comes out of the water and attacks while the other lies
in wait and only helps if the other is in trouble. This
suggests that if these creatures do exist they have bonded
pairings that hunt together.
It has been suggested that these creatures are in fact
throwbacks of the otter, seal or bear of today. Their attack
resembles that of any creature that is at home in the water
but hunts along the shore line for land based animals.
Cryptozoologists have researched these creatures only to
find that if they did exist they most likely do not now. The
most sightings occurred on Achill Island, located off the
western coast of Ireland in County Mayo. The lake called
Sraheens Lough is said to have some doyarchu, but they are
not found there all the time, suggesting that they migrate
around to other waters perhaps.
The Dobhar-Chu is often confused with the "King Otter" of
fairy tales. The King otter was said to be a massive otter
from the fairy realm that had magical powers. But the
Dobhar-Chu is definitely an animal with animal
characteristics and behavior.
The Water dog is not just strictly an Irish legend though.
There have been reports of similar animals in North America
that look like and act like the Irish Crocodile. The Aztec
had the Ahuitzotl that looks like a dog that lives in the
water, with pointed ears and wide paws and maybe a tuft at
the end of the tail like the Dobhar-Chu is sometimes
described as having. They are also noted in Native American
lore of the Hopi and Shasta tribes.
Interestingly enough, Christopher Columbus described a
strange creature that he supposedly killed in Jamaica in
1503. The description is considered by some to match that of
the water dogs.
In conclusion, the Irish crocodile may have existed but most
likely it does not exist today. If it does still live it is
likely in such small numbers as to be almost extinct. They
are interesting in theory and as to how they might be links
back from modern animals but in the end seem to be a deadly
and dark environ of myth and legend.
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