American Water Spaniel

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American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is a breed of spaniel which originated in the United States. Their coat can range from uniform waves (marcel) to close curls, with a dense undercoat. And they are known to be happy, eager, and charming, though aloof with strangers and a bit stubborn.

Other Names American Brown Spaniel, American Brown Water Spaniel
Color Brown, Chocolate, Liver
Height Males: 15–18 inches. Females: 15-18 inches.
Weight Males: 30-45 pounds. Females: 20–40 pounds.
Life Span 10-14 years
Personality Eager, Happy, Charming
Exercise Regular Exercise
Popularity #164
Groom Needs 2-3 Times a Week
Kids Friendly Yes with supervision
Dog Friendly Yes with supervision
Watch Dog
Family Dog
Litter Size 4-6

American Water Spaniel Pictures

American Water Spaniel Video


The American Water Spaniel shares many a similar feature with its supposed ancestors, the English and Irish Water Spaniels, although it appears smaller than the Irish Water Spaniel and is less active than the English Water Spaniel. The American Water Spaniel (AWS) has a broad skull with prominent ears, a tail that isn’t typically docked. The coat may either be tightly curled or wavy in appearance. The dog is shrouded in a double coat of fur, the topcoat keeping foliage out of the skin, while the undercoat conserved the body temperature even underwater, hence a good insulator. American Water Spaniels are usually chocolate, liver, or brown in color. They are happy and eager to serve, although tend toward obstinacy once in a while.

The standard American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized dog, capable of measuring to 15-20 inches from withers to paw, with females running quite smaller. They weigh in the range of 30-45 pounds (for the males), and 25-40 pounds (for the females). The American Water Spaniel has an average life expectancy of 10-13 years.

Living with American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel has a dense, waterproof coat that can be either tightly curled or wavy. Weekly grooming is required for this dog, but it is a common simple process. During the shedding seasons in the spring and fall, more frequent brushing is helpful to keep too much loose hair from piling up on the carpets and furniture. Don’t bath your dog too much frequently, because it would remove the coat’s natural oils and diminish its ability to repel water and keep the dog warm. Bathe is only necessary when your dog gets dirty or smelly. 

All breeds with pendant, or hanging, ears tend to have issues with ear infections. Check and clean your dog’s ears regularly for the signs of redness, bad odor, dirt that may indicate the infections. And brush his teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Besides, trim your dog’s nails regularly, usually once or twice a month.

American Water Spaniels are extremely athletic and energetic, so their exercise requirements are quite extensive. Without enough exercise, they would become barky and destructive. As outdoorsy athletes, they enjoy hunting and swimming, also they can make good bicycling companions as well. 

Depending on the dog’s age and overall activity level, the typical adult AWS would need 90 minutes or more of proper exercise every day, including several shorter exercise sessions throughout the day, two or three times walks, jogs, or bike rides combined with a good period of play. Besides, taking AWS to participate in field trials or obedience, agility, or dock diving events is useful to burn off the dog’s excess energy in a positive way. 

Generally, it is recommended to feed the American Water Spaniel with one cup to one and a half cups of high-quality dry dog food every day, divided into two meals. And there should be clean and fresh water at all times. More importantly, the food amount should depend on the dog’s weight, size, age, and activity level. 

Some dogs are easy to get overweight, so you need to watch their calorie consumption and weight level all the time. Treats may be an important aid in training, but excessive intake can lead to obesity. Also, owners need to distinguish which human food is safe for dogs and which are not. If you have any problems with your dog’s weight or diet, just consult from your veterinarian.

American Water Spaniels are prone to the following health conditions: hip dysplasia, cardiac abnormalities, eye disorders, degenerative myelopathy, growth hormone-responsive dermatitis, Pattern Baldness (Saddle Alopecia), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Hypothyroidism, etc. 

Major concerns: mitral valve disease

Minor concerns: PDA, CHD, pulmonic stenosis

Occasionally seen: PRA, patellar luxation

Suggested tests:

Cardiac Exam

Hip Evaluation

Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Total Annual Cost: $2889

Cost is estimated for the first year and may vary depending on many factors, such as dog food, health care, leash, collar, licensing, possible fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, dog-walking, grooming, treats, toys, flea, tick, and heart-worm meds, microchips, etc.

The AWS responds best to short, motivational training sessions as they are smart and trainable. But the owner needs to avoid heavy-handed techniques that use punishments for getting it wrong instead of rewards for getting it right because these tricks mat make the dog sulky or withdrawn. It is suggested to start early socialization and puppy training classes. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of about 7 weeks and 4 months is helpful to keep the dog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. As a dog who is eager to please his owners, it is easy and fun when training. The owner and his dog love participating in canine sports such as tracking agility, barn hunt, and flyball, as well as field events, which teach the dog to flush game and retrieve waterfowl.


The American Water Spaniel is a hardy breed developed in the U.S state of Wisconsin, in the region of the Fox River (Wolf River area, precisely). It was created around the 1800s from a number of other water spaniels and a few other breeds. The ancestors of the American Water Spaniel (AWS) include the English Water Spaniel, Poodle, Irish Water Spaniel, Curly-coated Retriever, the Sussex, and some native dogs of Wisconsin. American Water Spaniels were bred to achieve the goal of a versatile hunting dog capable of working on the land and in water. They have a tough coat to keep the weather elements at bay, thereby naturally adapting to the role they were called to play. However, over time the breed slowly dwindled in numbers, perhaps due to reduced interest in water gaming as a means of survival in the region. It got pretty drastic around the period after the Second World War when more specialized hunting breeds began to take over the job of hunting.

One Dr. Fred J. Pfeifer, who was a breeder in the New London region of Wisconsin, set up a kennel club in the Wolf River to enable him to present and promote the American Water Spaniel which was known at the time as the American Brown Spaniel. It was through his efforts and promotion that the breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1920, his own dog being the first to be registered by the UKC. It was registered as an American Water Spaniel. However, it was the American Water Spaniel Club, in conjunction with Thomas Brodgan and John Scofield, that promoted the recognition of the breed by the AKC in 1940. Prior to this time, the American Water Spaniel had not shown up in the dog show circuit yet.

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