American Water Spaniel Dog


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Breed information Guide

The American Water Spaniel, a breed deeply rooted in the lake regions of the upper Midwest, embodies the adventurous spirit of the great outdoors. Originating from the United States, this breed boasts impressive water retrieval skills, making it a top choice for hunting aficionados. In recent rankings by the AKC, the American Water Spaniel secured the 166th spot out of 200 breeds, a testament to its enduring appeal. Furthermore, the AKC officially recognized the breed in 1940, underscoring its rich heritage.

Diving deeper into the world of the American Water Spaniel, you’ll uncover tales of its origin, distinctive traits, and the unique temperament that sets it apart. So, if you’re intrigued by this breed, read on to discover more about this fascinating dog.

Quick Facts:

  • Size: The American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized dog.
  • Weight: Male 13.6-20.4 kg (approx. 30-45 pounds) and female 11.3kg-18kg (25-40 pounds).
  • Height: 38-46 cm (approx. 15-18 inches).
  • Lifespan: 10-14 years.
  • Types: This breed is known for its versatility in hunting and retrieving from boats, hence its name.
  • Families: They are affectionate and good with families, including children.
  • Allergies: Not hypoallergenic.
  • Appearance: Medium-length curly double coat in shades of brown, chocolate, and liver.
  • Temperament: Companionable, bright, even-tempered. They are cheerful and enthusiastic dogs that love being active with their family.
  • Other pets: Generally friendly, but early socialisation is recommended.
  • Barking: Medium tendency to bark.
  • Training: Highly trainable with positive reinforcement methods.
  • Exercise required: At least 1 hour per day. Activities can include walks, hiking, and swimming.
  • Owner requirement: Needs regular physical activity and mental stimulation.
  • Grooming: Brush weekly to remove any loose fur. The breed sheds minimally. Bathing is recommended roughly once a month.
  • Health: Prone to hereditary health issues such as hip dysplasia, eye diseases, heart problems, and degenerative myelopathy.
  • Nutrition: Requires a high-quality canine diet with balanced nutrition.
  • Accommodation: Adaptable to various living conditions but prefers an active, outdoorsy lifestyle.
  • Cost: You should expect to pay between £900 and £2,000 for an American Water Spaniel
  • Kennel Club Group: Gundog.

Breed History & Traits:

When you think about European settlers in the Great Lakes region of the US, you might remember the specific hunting needs they had. They really needed a gun dog that was top-notch at navigating the cold waters of those vast lakes. It’s kind of like when you have specific needs in a situation – you look for the perfect fit, right? So, the American Water Spaniel’s origins they’re a bit of a blur. But it’s commonly believed that breeds such as the Irish Water Spaniel & English Water Spaniel – played crucial roles in its making.

The breed that came out of these mixes? Well, it wasn’t just good in water retrievals but was also impressive when hunting small game on land. But as hunting shifted from being about survival to more of a sport – the popularity of the breed went down. It’s a bit sad, isn’t it? But, the good part? In the early 1900s, some breeders took steps to bring back the American Water Spaniel. And guess what? Their hard work did pay off. By 1940, the American Kennel Club recognised this breed. And to top that? The breed was declared the state dog of Wisconsin in 1985. It’s like that time you worked so hard & finally got recognised. But, despite these achievements, it’s still a rare breed today. 

Key Traits:

The American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized sporting dog, boasting a medium-length curly coat that’s known for minimal shedding. Here are the top 5 unique traits of the American Water Spaniel:

  • Muscular Build & Webbed Toes: This breed is well-balanced and muscular, equipped with webbed toes. These physical attributes make it an excellent swimmer, capable of navigating icy waters with ease.
  • Coat & Colour: The breed has a medium-length, curly double coat that comes in shades of brown, chocolate, and liver.
  • Temperament: Generally, the American Water Spaniel showcases an attentive and happy disposition with its family. However, it can be slightly wary of strangers.
  • Exercise Needs: This breed thrives on activity. Whether it’s walks, jogs, hikes, or swimming, the American Water Spaniel loves to be on the move.
  • Health: While generally healthy, the breed can be prone to certain hereditary health issues, including hip dysplasia, eye diseases, heart problems, and degenerative myelopathy.

Temperament and Personality:

With roots in the Great Lakes region, the American Water Spaniel has made quite the name for itself, both as a versatile & adaptable breed. These dogs were once the go-to for hunting, making them both prized hunting buddies and the pets you’d love to have at home. Their compact size – perfect for those moments when they had to fit into canoes & hunting skiffs – they became hunters’ favourites. Their temperament? Generally friendly and always eager to please. And when you look into their eyes, you often see an expression that’s both intelligent & alert. 

Let’s dive into the top 3 behaviours you might observe in this breed:

  1. Versatile Hunters: American Water Spaniels are pros at flushing out birds. Their webbed feet and that keen sense of smell make them top-notch swimmers and retrievers, especially when they’re in the water.
  2. Friendly and Eager to Please: These dogs are known for their friendly disposition. They are always friendly and with an eagerness to please, which makes training them a breeze. And that alert look they often have? It’s them showing off their intelligence.
  3. Vocal Nature: While they’re an excellent company, they do like to voice their opinions. They might bark a tad more than some other breeds, something you might want to keep in mind if you’re thinking about getting one.

Appearance and Colours:

The American Water Spaniel, often known by its shorter name – AWS, is a breed that you can’t easily miss if you know what to look for. Rooted deep in the US, this medium-sized dog showcases a curly liver, and a brown, sometimes chocolate-coloured coat. This breed’s appearance speaks volumes about its history – a blend of hunting on both land and water. 

Let’s break down some of the features:

  • Height: Typically stands at 15–18 inches (38–46 cm).
  • Weight: Generally weighs around 25–45 pounds (11–20 kg).
  • Lifespan: These dogs have an average life span of 10–14 years.

Coat Varieties:

Diving into the world of the American Water Spaniel’s coat is like opening a painter’s palette – functional & pretty at the same time. You’d think, with their history around cold waters, they’d need something special. And that’s what they got. Their coat is double-layered: the outside being curly & the inside packed with insulation. Now, their coat colour mostly remains around various shades of brown. 

Let’s delve into the most common ones:

  • Solid Liver: A deep, rich brown that can range from dark to a more chocolate hue.
  • Solid Brown: A standard brown shade that covers the entire body uniformly.
  • Chocolate: A deeper, darker shade of brown, almost resembling the colour of dark chocolate.
  • Marcel Pattern: This isn’t a colour but a unique wave-like pattern in which the fur falls, giving the dog a distinctive appearance.
  • Curly Coat: While not a colour, it’s worth noting that some American Water Spaniels have a tightly curled coat, adding to their charm.


Training the American Water Spaniel is like when you’re trying to master a new skill – it requires patience, consistency, and a good understanding of what you’re dealing with. Known for a nature that’s happy, eager, and charming, these dogs can be a bit aloof with people they don’t know and might show a stubborn streak. That’s why early training & socialisation are so crucial. 

Let’s dive into the top 3 reasons why:

  1. Building Trust: Early on training does wonders in forging a trust bond between you & your dog. That trust is especially important for the American Water Spaniel, a breed that can sometimes keep strangers at arm’s length.
  2. Managing Stubbornness: While they’ve got that eagerness to please, don’t be fooled. They can be a tad stubborn, too. Getting in that early training makes sure this trait doesn’t grow into a big issue later on.
  3. Safety: You know how some situations need immediate action? Well, proper training makes sure the dog listens to commands, particularly in dicey situations. That’s especially important for a breed with a strong prey drive that can get sidetracked easily.


The American Water Spaniel, with its active nature and a clear love for the great outdoors. Thanks to their hunting heritage, they’ve got quite the energy reserve to expend. Now, if you’re considering this breed or just curious, here are the exercise needs you’d want to know:

  • Daily Exercise Time: They’ll need about 30-45 minutes, be it active play or just a good walk.
  • Type of Exercise: Given their name, it’s no surprise – they’re all about water-based activities. Swimming? A top choice. And fetch, especially if it’s in water, is sure to get their tail wagging.
  • Intensity: We’re talking moderate to high here. With a history rooted in hunting, they’re all for activities that give both their body & mind a good workout.

Ideal Home & Owner:

Considering a home for the American Water Spaniel? They’re as versatile as they come and can easily fit into diverse living conditions. But, if you’re aiming to create the perfect haven for them, there are a few things that could set you on the right path. 

Here are the top 3 living conditions that are pretty ideal for them:

Space to Play: Think homes with a garden, or maybe ones that are a stone’s throw away from parks & open spaces. They need the freedom to play and stretch their legs.

Family Environment: They flourish when they’re surrounded by family vibes. Their friendly & eager-to-please attitude makes them the best buds for families, more so if there are kids around.

Water Access: They’ve got a soft spot for water. So, living close to lakes and ponds or even having access to pools is kind of their dream scenario. It ain’t a must-have, but it sure is a good-to-have.

Other Animals:

The American Water Spaniel, hailing from the United States, stands out as a medium-sized sporting dog breed and is often showered with praises for its cheerful and spirited nature. At home, around its family, it’s usually all smiles and a ball of happiness. But when we talk about other animals, well, there are a couple of things worth noting:

  • Cats: They can be buddies with cats – especially if you bring ‘em together when they’re both on the younger side. 
  • Dogs: With their sociable nature, they usually vibe well with other dogs. But, a pro tip? When introducing them, choose a neutral spot to avoid territorial disputes.
  • Birds: Given their hunting background, it’s advisable to be cautious when introducing them to pet birds. Always supervise their interactions.
  • Small Pets: Hamsters, guinea pigs, and the like might be seen as quick snacks due to their hunting instincts. It is best to err on the side of caution – and keep them separate.

Size & Weight:

The American Water Spaniel, known for its compact and muscular frame, fits perfectly within the standards set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

Males typically measure 15 to 18 inches at the withers. In terms of weight, males range from 30 to 45 pounds (13.6 to 20.4 kg), while females weigh in at about 25 to 40 pounds (11.3 to 18.1 kg). Their robust build is due to their hunting background, making them both agile and sturdy companions.

Grooming & Care:

The American Water Spaniel’s coat is one of its most distinctive features. It’s designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions, water, and rough vegetation. Here’s a breakdown of their grooming needs:

  • Brushing: In winter, when the coat gets all dense, a slicker brush comes in handy to get rid of any dead hairs. Summer makes the task easier, what with the coat thinning out a bit.
  • Shedding: Now, these dogs ain’t heavy on the shedding side. Not completely hypoallergenic, but they do shed less than a lot of other breeds out there.
  • Bathing: With that thick coat, they can get a bit of a “doggy” smell. But hold off on frequent baths – it could rob them of natural oils & maybe lead to skin issues. Gentle pet shampoo & a thorough rinse should do the trick.
  • Ear Care: Being a spaniel and all, these dogs have a knack for needing regular ear cleanups, especially if they are regulars at the pond. Make sure you have a special ear-cleaning solution always ready.
  • Nail Trimming: Don’t overlook the nails. Keep them trimmed; else it’s gonna mess with their gait & make walking a tad uncomfortable.
  • Teeth Brushing: Just like humans, they need their teeth brushed regularly to prevent gum disease. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs.

Nutrition & Food:

When it comes to the American Water Spaniel, ensuring they get the right nutrients is crucial, given their active demeanour. With a proper diet, these dogs can maintain optimal health and robust energy levels. Here’s the nutritional scoop for this breed:

Nutritional ComponentRecommended Amount
Protein22% of the diet
Fats8% of the diet
Vitamins & MineralsBalanced & varied
WaterFresh & available always


When talking about American Water Spaniels, they’re generally quite the healthy bunch. But, just like every other breed out there, they’ve got a few health issues that could pop up:

  • Hip Dysplasia: It’s one of the hereditary diseases where the thigh bone doesn’t fit too well into the hip joint.
  • Eye Diseases: These pups could sometimes face issues like progressive retinal atrophy & cataracts.
  • Heart Problems: There’s a chance of some dogs running into heart-related problems, with mitral valve disease being one.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy: This is a kind of progressive thing, hitting the spinal cord. It’s worth keeping an eye out for.


Pet insurance is a safety net for many pet owners, and for breeds like the American Water Spaniel, it can be particularly beneficial. Here’s why:

  • Unexpected Health Issues: Insurance can cover the costs of unforeseen health problems.
  • Hereditary Conditions: Some breed-specific conditions can be expensive to treat.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that your pet’s health care costs are covered can provide peace of mind.
  • Routine Care: Some insurance plans also cover routine check-ups and vaccinations.

Buying & Breeders:

When thinking of getting an American Water Spaniel for the home, picking a good breeder is kind of important. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Research: Dive in deep with your research first. Check out breeders who are members of national or regional breed clubs.
  2. Visit in Person: Always visit the breeder’s facility in person. This gives you a chance to see the conditions in which the puppies are raised.
  3. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask the breeder questions about the breed, their breeding practices, and any health tests they’ve done on the parents.
  4. Health Clearances: Ensure the breeder provides health clearances for both the puppy’s parents. This can give you an idea of potential health issues.
  5. Meet the Puppy’s Parents: Meeting the puppy’s parents can give you a good idea of the puppy’s future temperament and appearance.
  6. References: Ask for references from previous buyers to learn about their experiences with the breeder and their dogs.
  7. Commitment: A breeder who’s really into the breed might be in dog sports or breed clubs, which is a good sign.
  8. Post-Purchase Support: And don’t forget – a good breeder is there for you, even after you’ve got your puppy at home.

Rescue & Re-homing:

Adopting a dog – especially breeds like the American Water Spaniel – can truly be a rewarding thing. You’re not just giving a home to a dog in need, but also making space for more rescues. Here’s why adopting an American Water Spaniel could be good for you & the dog:

  • Second Chance: Many of these dogs have had a rough start in life. By adopting, you give them a second chance at happiness.
  • Cost-Effective: Adoption fees are generally lower than buying a puppy, and the fee often includes vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying/neutering.
  • Supporting Shelters: Your adoption fee helps support the rescue organisation, allowing them to continue their vital work.
  • Fully Trained: Many rescue dogs are already house-trained and may even know basic commands.
  • Unconditional Love: Rescued dogs often form strong bonds with their adopters, offering unconditional love and gratitude.

Mixed Breeds:

The American Water Spaniel, known for its captivating & outdoorsy nature, often gets mixed with other breeds to get the best from both worlds. Here are some mixes with the American Water Spaniel:

MixKey Traits & Characteristics
AWS x Labrador RetrieverEnergetic, super friendly & top-notch with families. Combining the hunting skills from both breeds.
AWS x Cocker SpanielLots of affection, quite playful & smaller. Perfect for families & those who have a thing for the outdoors.
AWS x PoodleBrainy, hypoallergenic, & often used for hunting stuff. They have this curly coat that stands out.
AWS x Golden RetrieverAlways friendly, sticks by your side & kids love them. Mostly sports a golden-brownish coat.
AWS x BeagleCurious, friendly, and has a strong sense of smell. Great for families and those who enjoy outdoor activities.

Benefits of Mixed Breeds:

Going for a mixed breed – especially one that’s got an American Water Spaniel in it – comes with its perks:

  • Diverse Genetics: Mixed breeds often have fewer health issues due to their diverse genetic makeup.
  • Unique Appearance: Every mix has that special look, blending the good stuff from both breeds.
  • Balanced Temperament: Mixing things up can get a temperament that’s, well, more even. Take the best behaviour from both sides.
  • Cost-Effective: Mixed breeds are often less expensive than purebreds, making them more accessible to a wider range of families.
  • Supporting Adoption: Many mixed breeds are available for adoption, giving you the chance to provide a loving home to a dog in need.


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