Description: The American Water Spaniel is a medium size dog with a coat of curls and waves. The breed originated in the late 1800s, but its exact origins are unknown. Experts however, believe it was probably developed in the Fox and River valley region of Wisconsin.
In February of 1920, Dr. F.J. Pfeifer from Wisconsin was the first to obtain recognition of the breed. While the specific breeds used to develop the American Water Spaniel are not truly known, Pfeifer believes it may have been a cross between the extinct English Water Spaniel and the Field Spaniel. This claim has been has been disputed and it has been said the breeds thought to have been involved in the creation of the American Water Spaniel include the Field Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, English Water Spaniel, Tweed Water Spaniel and the Curly Coated Retriever. There is a possibility the Chesapeake Bay Retriever may also contributed.
The American Water Spaniel is thought to be one of five breeds which originated in the United States and there is no dispute it was developed as a hunting dog. Hunters were in need of a dog that could work on land as well as in the marsh, one that could easily fit in canoe or skiff and a breed which had a thick, warm coat which would keep the dog protected in harsh weather.
The American Water Spaniel makes an a great companion. It is excellent with children, sturdy, intelligent, has a good nose, loves water and is easy to train. The American Water Spaniel is eager to please, active, enthusiastic and makes a good guard dog.
Height: The height for an American Water Spaniel is between 15-18 inches (38-46 cm) at the shoulder.
Weight: The weight for an American Water Spaniel dog is between 28-45 lb. (13-20 kg) and 25-40 lb. (11-18 kg) for bitches.
Coat Type: The coat of the Ameican Water Spaniel is curly and can range from regular, continuous waves (marcel) to closely curled. These waves or curls can vary on the different areas of the dog’s body. Texture and density should be adequate to protect against elements such as cold weather, water, etc. The American Water Spaniel’s coat should not be too coarse, nor should it be too soft.
Color: The color of the American Water Spaniel’s coat can be liver, brown or dark chocolate. A small amount of white on chest or toes is permissible. These spots become smaller in size as pup grows to adulthood.
Temperament: The American Water Spaniel is friendly, loving, intelligent and energetic. This breed – like the Spaniel – is an enthusiastic hunter, although it does not need to hunt to be happy. It is eager to please and protective of its owner. He does very well with training, but harsh training techniques can have a negative impact resulting in aggressiveness or shyness as an adult. Consistent and fair training is very imperative. The AWS makes a good companion and is usually excellent with children, however, if he is startled or harshly disciplined, he could bite our of fear.
Health Problems: There are a few health concerns which from time to time affect the American Water Spaniel such as cardiac abnormalities, allergies, cancer, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, follicular dystrophy, cataracts and epilepsy. It is recommended for any breeder to obtain health clearances to be able to provide to future American Water Spaniel owners. The average life span is between 12 and 15 years.
• The first ‘all around hunter’ breed developed in the United States which could retrieve from boats was the American Water Spaniel.
• It is likely the American Water Spaniel was one of the primary contributors to the Boykin Spaniel.
• Because the American Water Spaniel was purely a working gun dog and not a show dog, it never made its way into the show ring. It was feared this would harm its reputation as a hunter. This however is no longer the case today.
• The American Water Spaniel was recognized as a purebred dog by the American Kennel Club in 1940
• The American Water Spaniel Dog became the official state dog of Wisconsin in 1985.
AKC: Sporting Group
CKC: Sporting Dogs Group 1
FCI: Group 8 Section 3 Water Dogs
KC: Gun Dog
UKC: Gun Dog