What is an American Water Spaniel?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Few types of dogs have been developed in the United States of America. One American breed, the American Water Spaniel, or AWS, is considered a rare animal. Only 3,000 Water Spaniels are known to exist. These spaniels are medium-sized dogs that are generally known to be affable creatures.


An energetic canine, the male AWS usually weighs between 25 and 45 pounds (11 to 20 kilograms). Females of this species may weigh slightly less. The dog can measure up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) in height up to the shoulder.

The dog features a handsome curly coat that is normally a chocolate brown shade. Its eye color usually matches its coat. Some American Water Spaniels may also feature small white spots or splotches. This thick coat allows the dog to live comfortably in the cold and rain, especially while accompanying a hunter.

A gundog breed, the American Water Spaniel was developed as a hunting companion. Though not a very popular type of dog, the AWS is an excellent waterfowl retriever. The dog also makes a helpful hunting, fishing, and flushing partner. Its high energy levels require lots of exercise and activities, such as running, swimming, and obedience training.

Content and eager to please its master, the American Water Spaniel can make a good family pet. The dog is considered very friendly and intelligent. Protective of its masters, the AWS usually possesses an affectionate, gentle temperament with children.

American Water Spaniels are also a relatively low-maintenance breed. Other than providing lots of physical activity, most owners of this breed are faced with the main task of grooming their dogs. Like any other long-haired pet, the AWS needs regular bathing and brushing. Clipping an American Water Spaniel's fur can also be helpful in keeping the dog comfortable and handsome.

As the AWS ages, it can become irritable. Behavior changes can also occur if the dog fails to receive adequate exercise, or if a female is in heat. Modification can be achieved with the help of a trainer. No single disease is known to plague this breed in particular, though many illnesses that affect dogs in general, including allergies, cancer, heart problems, and cataracts, can develop in an AWS.

Origins of the American Water Spaniel may be traced back to Wisconsin during the 1800s. In the Fox and Wolf River valley regions, the animal was bred to help local hunters stalk and capture prey. The region remains the largest area of known AWS breeders.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?