American Water Spaniel

September 23, 2020 // 7 minute read

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American Water Spaniels are medium-sized gun dogs that feature a beautiful curly or wavy coat in brown color. The American Water Spaniel also has thick, padded feet and webbed toes, enabling them to work even on icy waters.

American Water Spaniels combine both the traits of spaniels and retrievers, which make them excellent hunting dogs. This means that they are also a very athletic breed and will be best paired with active owners. They love activities, and you should ensure that they are given enough exercise, so they remain well-behaved indoors.

American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel Statistics

Dog Breed GroupSporting
Breed SizeMedium
Height15-18 inches
Weight30-45 pounds (male); 25-40 pounds (female)
Lifespan10-14 years

American Water Spaniel Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

American Water Spaniel History

American Water Spaniels originated from Wisconsin in the mid-1800s. They were developed as hunting dogs by European immigrants who settled in the place. It is believed that European dog breeds such as Irish Water Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel, and Old English Spaniel (now extinct) were used to create the breed.

There were no specific records found, but regardless of their background, it is undeniable that the American Water Spaniel is a versatile hunting dog that will hunt quail, pheasant, duck, grouse, and rabbit. What hunters love about them the most is that they can work on different kinds of terrain and have great endurance.

Unfortunately, by the 20th century, hunters started to lose interest in the breed as larger retriever breeds came about. They almost went extinct, but this was prevented by a man named Pfeifer.

Through his efforts, the United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1920, and the American Kennel Club followed through 20 years later.

The dogs currently rank 166th as the most popular dog in the US and are still considered a rare breed with their numbers not exceeding 3000. However, owners of the breed would know how loving these dogs are.


American Water Spaniels are eager, happy, and charming dogs. Like any other hunting dogs, they are active and athletic. You must provide them enough exercise every day, so they stay healthy and happy.

These dogs love people, and they most especially thrive for human companionship. It’s important not to leave them alone for long periods or they might suffer from separation anxiety. This will also cause them to become destructive.

Although he likes being out in the backyard, don’t let him stay there alone. These dogs need to be indoors and be included in family activities.

American Water Spaniels are affectionate to their owners, even with children and pets that grew up with them. They also make excellent watchdogs and will bark when someone suspicious comes to your home.

They are mostly reserved with strangers and dominant with strange animals. So, it’s essential to socialize them at an early age, so they become more well-rounded. This will also get them accustomed to how they should react on certain occasions.

Training may come challenging as these dogs can be stubborn. So, you need to be consistent and firm. Added to that, you need to make sure not to be harsh to these dogs as they can be very sensitive.

Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: American Water Spaniels don’t have special dietary requirements as long as you feed him high-quality and well-balanced meals daily. This should consist of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins – essential nutrients your dog needs for his growth. It’s also crucial that you only buy high-quality ingredients if you’re going to feed him home-cooked meals. Find the best sources of the nutrients mentioned above and make sure to stay away from any ingredient your dog is allergic to. Dog food and dog treats should also be of premium quality. Check the label and make sure that the products don’t contain fillers, additives, and by-products. These have very low nutritional value and may cause problems for your dog’s digestion. When it comes to your dog’s diet, it’s still best to ask your vet for some advice. You can also ask for feeding requirements that fit well to your dog’s needs. This may also include the number of calories to feed your dog daily, so he doesn’t get overweight.
  • Grooming: American Water Spaniels have dense, curly coats that shed infrequently. It’s not hard to maintain. Weekly brushing should help their coats remain healthy and shiny. Some owners also opt to trim the coats, so it’s easier to maintain. During the shedding season, you might need to brush more frequently to remove dead hair and keep shedding to a minimum. Baths can be given occasionally, depending on how much your dog needs it or if he gets too smelly or messy. Don’t forget to regularly check and clean the ears to prevent ear infection. Trim the nails too, so it stays short. Long nails can cause pain and discomfort to dogs.
  • Exercise: American Water Spaniels are athletic dogs who love the outdoors. You must provide them sufficient exercise, so they stay entertained. This way, they won’t become destructive when indoors. Regular play sessions in a large securely-fenced yard should be enough. However, they’re happiest when they’re given a task, particularly hunting. Let them participate in dog events where they can showcase their skills and agility on the field.
  • Health: American Water Spaniels are generally healthy dogs, but they are also prone to several health diseases. Dog owners need to be aware of what these are so you can find ways to prevent these diseases better. Bone or joint diseases, eye diseases, and a few genetically transferred diseases are common to American Water Spaniel dogs. These include:
    •  Hip Dysplasia
    •  Growth Hormone-Responsive Dermatitis
    •  Pattern Baldness
    •  Cataracts
    • Retinal Dysplasia
    •  Allergies
    •  Progressive Retinal Atrophy
    •  Epilepsy
    •  Hypothyroidism
  • Although there’s a high chance your dog won’t get all of these throughout his lifetime, it’s still best to research them and be familiar with any symptoms. This way, if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior, you can take him immediately to the vet. Giving your dog the right nutrition and care is key, so he stays healthy. It’s also best to meet at least one of your dog’s parents to be aware of any possible disease your dog may acquire. Let him take an eye test or bone tests, too, to detect certain conditions early.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of American Water Spaniels is 10-14 years.

Famous American Water Spaniels

  • Curly Pfeifer: The first American Water Spaniel registered by the AKC.

Fun Facts about American Water Spaniels

  • American Water Spaniels were developed in Wisconsin in the 1800s.
  • They were originally developed just to hunt.
  • They are believed to have come from the Irish Water Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel, and Old English Water Spaniel.
  • They almost went extinct in the 20th century when hunting became a less common activity.
  • They are the official state dog of Wisconsin.
  • Some owners say that their American Water Spaniel loves bananas.
  • They are a rare breed that can mostly be found in the US.
  • They were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1940.

Check Out Other Sporting Dog Breeds:
Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Kooikerhondje, Labrador Retriever, Lagotti Romagnoli, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Spinoni Italiani, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Wirehaired Vizslas

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