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American Water Spaniel


American Water Spaniel Facts

  • Group
  • Sporting
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 15" - 18" (38 - 45.7cm)
  • Weight
  • 25 - 45lbs (11 - 20kg)
  • Lifespan
  • 12 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • Moderate - This breed enjoys typical daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • A Quick Learner
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Moderate
  • Colors
    • Brown
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Hunting heritage
    • Ok outdoors
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

The American Water Spaniel is also known as AWS.


The American Water Spaniel was developed in the Wolf and Fox River Valley region of East-Central Wisconsin, United States.

Date Of Origin

The American Water Spaniel originated in the 1920's.


The American Water Spaniel was developed in the 1920s by Dr. F. J. Pfeifer, a physician in Wisconsin, to be a gun dog and hunt and retrieve waterfowl and small game. A dog that closely resembled the American Water Spaniel was found in Pre-Civil War photographs from the 1850s. Some believe this breed to be a descendant of crosses with the now extinct English water spaniel, the Irish water spaniel and the curly coated retriever. They were bred to be small enough to fit into a small boat but sturdy enough to work in cold water. The American Water Spaniel is an excellent swimmer, and was the first breed developed in the United States to be an all-around hunter that could retrieve from boats.

The American Water Spaniel was recognized by the UKC in 1920 and by the AKC in 1940.


The American Water Spaniel is a small to medium sized compact dog with drop ears, a pronounced brow, and eyes that range in color from yellowish brown to dark brown. The plumed tail is long and slightly curved and acts as a rudder when the dog swims. The tightly curled, dense, weather resistant coat is liver to brown colored and moderate in length. There may be white markings on the toes or chest.


The American Water Spaniel is a true multi-purpose dog, bred to be a companion, to live and work in close quarters, and to hunt, flush, and retrieve game of all kinds. The American Water Spaniel performs well in all endeavors but excels in the field as either a waterfowl retriever or upland flushing dog. The typical American Water Spaniel is happy, energetic, and eager to please. Its intelligence and eagerness make it highly trainable and it loves the water.

Typical of the spaniel breeds, American Water Spaniels are active dogs that will do best when given the opportunity to work off some of their energy. Activities like field or obedience training, runs in the park, swimming, or a good play session in the backyard are some of the ways to let an American Water Spaniel work off its pent up energy.

The American Water Spaniel is generally good with children, but may be food or toy possessive. They tend to be very attached to the alpha of the house. As with many breeds, socialization with people and other dogs is important at an early age.


The American Water Spaniel is a wonderful hunter in difficult waters, in the woods, and over uneven terrain. It is used above all for hunting duck, quail, pheasant, grouse, and rabbit. The American Water Spaniel is also greatly revered as a guard dog and companion.

Health Concerns

Potential health concerns for the American Water Spaniel include alopecia, blindness, deafness, epilepsy, heart problems, hip dysplasya, luxating patella, spinal or neck problems, thyroid problems, and poor temperament. These problems are greatly reduced in well-bred dogs.

Additional Information

Although the American water spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin, they are very rare. This breed will do well with an active, dog-experienced family with time for training and exercise. He needs a large space to run and consistent, positive training.

Costs associated with grooming this dog should be factored when considering this breed. The coat should be brushed every 2 - 3 weeks and the dog should be bathed every 2 weeks with a high quality shampoo. Professional grooming will also be needed every 6 - 8 weeks.

Due to the American Water Spaniel's bird hunting heritage, this breed should not be trusted unsupervised with pet birds.

You will see a change in personality in unspayed females when in heat (even when very well trained).

Show Sources & Contributors +


Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com

Author: Bruce Fogle

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