Originating in Wisconsin, the American Water Spaniel is the Wisconsin state dog.The breed originated in the areas along the Fox River and its tributary the Wolf River during the early 19th century.

The American Water Spaniel, often abbreviated as AWS, is a versatile and intelligent dog breed with a rich history.

This breed originated in the United States, particularly in Wisconsin, where it was developed from crosses between several water dogs, including the Irish Water Spaniel and possibly the Curly Coated Retriever.

Traditionally, these dogs were used as hunting dogs, mainly for retrieving water game. They are known for their stamina and skill in the water, making them excellent helpers on hunts for fowl and water game.

The AWS is not only an enthusiastic hunter and a good swimmer, but also an affectionate companion dog that gets along well with children and other animals. Despite its versatility and pleasant disposition, the American Water Spaniel remains a relatively rare breed.

They are recognised by the American Kennel Club and fall under the FCI group of retrievers and water dogs. Their coat needs regular brushing and they thrive best with owners who can offer them plenty of exercise and mental challenges.

The appearance of the American Water Spaniel

A medium-sized and intelligent dog breed, the American Water Spaniel has a distinctive appearance that makes it popular both as a hunting dog and as a companion dog.

A characteristic feature of this breed is its curly or wavy coat, which usually has a rich liver colour. This coat is not only beautiful to look at, but also provides protection from the elements while working in watery environments.

With an average shoulder height of around 38 to 46 cm and a weight ranging between 13-20 kg, the American Water Spaniel is both muscular and agile. These dogs have a strongly built body with well-arched ribs, giving them a robust and athletic appearance.

American Water Spaniels are often praised for their intelligence and versatility. They are skilled at hunting and retrieving, and are known to get along well with other animals and children.

Their coat, which can be moderately long and medium-length with small curls, requires regular maintenance, including brushing and combing, to prevent tangles and keep the coat healthy.

Hereditary diseases and disorders

An active and intelligent dog with a distinctive chocolate brown, curly or wavy coat, the American Water Spaniel is generally a healthy breed.

These dogs, are known for their stamina and skills as hunters. However, as with all breeds, there are certain hereditary diseases and conditions that the American Water Spaniel can be susceptible to. Some of these conditions include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A common condition in many dog breeds, in which the hip joint develops abnormally.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): An eye condition that can lead to blindness.
  • Hypothyroidism: A disorder of the thyroid gland that affects metabolism.
  • Ear infections: Because of their long, moderately feathered ears, they are prone to ear infections.
  • Skin allergies: These can occur due to environmental factors or food allergies.
  • Epilepsy: A neurological condition that leads to seizures.

The character of the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is an active dog with lots of stamina and loves to be outdoors.

They are enthusiastic hunters and excellent for helping hunt poultry and water game. These spaniels have a strong drive to work and retrieve, which makes them a pleasure to train in various dog sports.

At home, they make good watchdogs and can be vigilant, although they are generally not aggressive. They are suitable for families and generally get along well with children, provided they are well socialised. Like all active dogs, American Water Spaniels need plenty of exercise and benefit from mental challenges.

American Water Spaniel enjoying a nice walk in the park

The Care of the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel, a medium-sized breed, requires a specific grooming routine to stay healthy and happy. Recognised by the FCI and known for their curly or wavy, liver-coloured coat, these dogs are both enthusiastic hunters and loving family members.

Coat care: The American Water Spaniel’s wavy or curly coat requires regular grooming. Their coat, which is moderately feathered and has a dense undercoat, should be brushed regularly to prevent tangles and to disperse natural oils, which helps keep the coat healthy. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also contribute to a shiny coat.

Exercise and Training: As a strong dog with lots of stamina, the American Water Spaniel needs daily exercise. They are enthusiastic hunters and enjoy activities such as swimming, fetching and walking. Training should be consistent and positive, given their intelligent and sometimes stubborn nature.

Health: The life expectancy of the American Water Spaniel is generally good, but regular veterinary checks are important to detect any health problems early. It is also important to keep an eye on their diet and weight, as they can be predisposed to obesity.

Social Needs: These spaniels are generally good with other dogs and children, but as with any dog, early socialisation is crucial. They can be watchful and will bark to protect their family, but are not known for aggressive behaviour.

Socialisation and upbringing of the American Water Spaniel

Socialisation and upbringing of the American Water Spaniel, a breed known for its enthusiasm as a hunter and its friendly nature, are essential aspects of their care.  Originating from crossbreeds such as the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly Coated Retriever, these dogs are not only adept at working on the water, but also make great family members.

Socialisation: From an early age, it is important to introduce the American Water Spaniel to different people, animals and environments.

Although these liver-coloured spaniels are generally not aggressive towards other dogs, early socialisation is crucial to ensure they learn how to interact with other animals in a friendly and respectful manner. This also helps prevent any aggressive behaviour.

Education: Consistent training is important for these intelligent and active dogs. They respond well to positive reinforcement and have a natural urge to please, which facilitates the training process.

Their wavy coat, which can extend to the back, requires regular grooming, and their diet should contain sufficient omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin.

The American Water Spaniel, is a strong and muscular dog. They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, especially as they were originally bred to work on any terrain.

These dogs can be watchful and will bark to protect their family, but in general they are well adapted and suitable for family life.

How much experience does an American Water Spaniel require

Although the American Water Spaniel is generally considered a good choice for active families, it is important for potential owners to have experience handling dogs, especially breeds bred for specific tasks such as hunting.

These spaniels, with their dark chocolate brown coats and strong hunting instincts, require consistent training and clear boundaries from a young age. This helps prevent any aggressive behaviour and ensures the dog is well socialised.

These dogs are vigilant and can be protective, but are generally not aggressive. In general, American Water Spaniels are suitable for people who are willing to put time and effort into their dog’s education and training, and who can appreciate the enthusiasm and energy of this breed.

Is training necessary?

Training is absolutely necessary with the American Water Spaniel. This breed, known as a good swimmer, has a strong character and therefore requires structured and consistent training.

Although the American Water Spaniel is generally not considered aggressive, training is important to curb any potentially aggressive behavior and to teach the dog how to behave in different situations.

American Water Spaniels were originally bred for hunting, and they have a natural drive to work and be active. This means they need both physical and mental challenges. Training helps not only to refine their hunting skills, but also to keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom.

In addition, these spaniels are known to be watchful and protective. Proper training ensures that they are effective guard dogs without becoming unnecessarily aggressive or overprotective. The overall image of a well-trained American Water Spaniel is that of a balanced, obedient and happy dog.

How much exercise does an American Water Spaniel need?

An active and energetic breed, the American Water Spaniel requires a significant amount of daily exercise to stay in top physical as well as mental condition. As a breed originally bred for hunting, these dogs have a natural need for regular physical activity.

In general, an American Water Spaniel needs at least one to two hours of exercise per day. This exercise can include walks, swimming sessions, fetch and play activities, as well as training sessions that stimulate their minds.

Given their background as hunting dogs, they especially enjoy activities that appeal to their natural instincts, such as swimming and retrieving objects, which is also a good way to channel their energy.

It is important to match exercise to the individual dog’s age, energy level and health. An American Water Spaniel that is not challenged enough or that does not get enough exercise may show signs of boredom or stress, which can manifest as destructive behavior.

The american water spaniel enjoying the outside weather

How does he getting along with children?

The American Water Spaniel is known for its friendly and affectionate nature, which means it generally gets along well with children.

These dogs tend to be patient and playful, which makes them excellent companions for children. Their medium-sized size and energetic nature make them suitable for families with active lifestyles.

The American Water Spaniel is loyal and protective, traits that contribute to a good relationship with children. However, as with any dog, supervision during interactions between the dog and young children is important.

It is crucial that both dog and children learn how to interact safely and respectfully. Children should be taught not to tease or disturb the dog during rest periods or meals. These dogs are naturally social and enjoy company. They can fit in well with children’s play, but it is important to ensure adequate rest periods.

Benefits of an American Water Spaniel

  • Versatility: These dogs are both excellent hunters and loving family members, known for their versatility in various activities.
  • Friendly Character: They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, which makes them great companions for families.
  • Intelligence: The American Water Spaniel is intelligent and eager to learn, which makes training easier.
  • Size: Their medium size makes them suitable for a variety of living environments, from flats to houses with large gardens.
  • Good Guard Dogs: They are watchful and can be protective without being overly aggressive.

Disadvantages of an American Water Spaniel

  • High Exercise Requirement: These active dogs need a lot of exercise, which is not feasible for all owners.
  • Coat Care: Their curly or wavy coat requires regular grooming to prevent tangles and mats.
  • Potential Health Problems: Like all breeds, they can be prone to specific hereditary health conditions.
  • Social Needs: They have a strong need for companionship and cannot be left alone for long.
  • Training Challenges: Although they are intelligent, their independent nature can sometimes be a challenge during training.

How old will an American Water Spaniel get

Known for its versatility and friendly nature, the American Water Spaniel has a relatively long life expectancy for a medium-sized dog breed.

On average, American Water Spaniels can reach an age of around 10 to 14 years. As with all dogs, this lifespan can vary and depends on several factors, including genetics, living conditions, nutrition and overall health care.

Price of an American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel, being a rarer breed in the US, presents some challenges in determining a specific price range. Here’s an overview:

Price Range: An American Water Spaniel puppy might cost between $800 and $2,000, reflecting the breed’s comparative scarcity.

Factors Influencing Price: Although detailed data might be sparse, several typical factors could affect pricing:

  • Breeder Reputation: More established breeders may have higher prices.
  • Pedigree: Dogs with American Kennel Club (AKC) registration papers usually command higher fees.
  • Location: Expect higher prices in regions with a more expensive cost of living.
  • Age: Adults may be priced lower than puppies.

Finding an American Water Spaniel:

  • Breeders: Locating a reputable breeder focused on American Water Spaniels may take additional effort due to the breed’s lower population.
  • Rescue: Adoption is an option, though American Water Spaniels are less commonly found in shelters. Adoption fees are generally much lower than purchasing from a breeder.

Similar Breeds to Explore:

If the American Water Spaniel’s vivacious nature and affinity for water appeal to you, consider these similar breeds more prevalent in the US:

  • Boykin Spaniel: Known for their swimming skills and cheerful disposition, with prices ranging from $800 to $2,000.
  • Irish Water Spaniel: Recognizable by their unique curly coat and enthusiasm for water, typically priced between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • English Springer Spaniel: Active and smart, these dogs are great for energetic owners, with prices ranging from $800 to $1,500.
  • Field Spaniel: Adaptable and athletic, known for their ease of training, with prices ranging from $800 to $2,000.

These alternatives might offer easier availability and similar pricing to the American Water Spaniel.

Additional Guidance:

  • Research Thoroughly: Confirm the American Water Spaniel’s high energy levels and love of water suit your lifestyle.
  • Visit the Breeder: If choosing a breeder, inspect their facilities and meet the puppy’s parents to evaluate health and temperament.
  • Adoption Option: Consider giving a home to a wonderful dog from a shelter or rescue, potentially even another spaniel breed.
  • Budget for Ownership: Prepare for ongoing expenses like nutrition, healthcare, grooming, and more, beyond the initial cost.

Remember: Selecting a pet is a serious, long-term responsibility. Opt for a breed that complements your living situation and provides a nurturing environment for many years.

About the Author: Giovanni

After a dedicated 20-year career as a veterinarian, I now share my passion and knowledge on my blog focused on pet wellness. My experience covers everything from preventive care to treating complex conditions. I strive to provide animal lovers with valuable insights on the health and happiness of their pets, from nutritional advice to behavioral guidance.