American Water Spaniel Information

The history of the American Water Spaniel is somewhat speculative since his early developement was never recorded. His appearance is not unlike that of a smaller version of the Irish Water Spaniel, and it is somewhat likely that he is derived from that breed or his earlier versions, the Northern, Southern and Tweed Water Spaniels. The curly-coated retriever and his forebear, the English water spaniel, could have also played a role. Some theories even credit the American Indians who lived in the Great Lakes regions as the creators of the breed. Whatever his origin, the American water spaniel first became established in his own right as a recognizable breed in the Midwestern parts of the United States, where he was unsurpassed as a hunting companion. The American Water Spaniel has a waterproof coat and keen nose and can hunt through rough land and water and retrieve all manner of game, often marking several fallen birds before retrieving them unfailingly. Until he was recognized by the AKC in 1940, no one ever considered breeding these dogs for anything but hunting ability. Today the American water spaniel is among the least known of the recognized breeds, despite being one of only two sporting breeds developed in America. In fact, the American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin.


The American Water Spaniel is a muscular, active dog of medium size. These dogs stand at about 33 to 46cm to the shoulder and weigh 12 to 23kg. Females are somewhat smaller than males. His coat varies from uniform waves to close curls. The undercoat provides warmth in cold weather and in the water. Oil in the coat provides additional protection in the water, but may give the American Water Spaniel a strong odour. The colour of the coat is either solid liver, brown, or dark chocolate.
Weight Range: Male: 30-45 lbs; Female: 25-40 lbs.
Height at Withers: Male: 18 in. Female: 17 in.
Exercise Requirements: 20-40 minutes/day
Energy Level: Very energetic
Longevity Range: 10-13 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: High Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: High
Tendency to Dig: Low Social/Attention Needs: ModeratE.

Bred For; Bird flushing and retrieving

Length: Medium
Characteristics: Double coat, curly
Colors: Solid liver, brown, dark chocolate
Overall Grooming Needs: Low


American water spaniels are affectionate, very obedient and known for getting along with other animals and children and make very good watchdogs. These characteristics make them excellent family pets.


Keep in mind…
All breeds of dogs encounter health issues. Please be careful not to assume that finding and discussing health issues in any breed means that the breed is not a healthy one. Rather, know that breeders and owners openly discussing health issues can only bring about an improvement in the breed’s overall health. Working together as partners, we *can* make a difference; SOURCE; Little Brownies Kennel through their friends at the Keoni Project.

As the world of pure bred dogs goes the American Water Spaniel is not considered to be a breed that is overwhelmed by health problems nor is it devoid of them altogether. As with any breed, the majority of AWS are going to live long and healthy lives provided they are cared for properly and given good medical care. Sadly, there will be some that experience a health crisis.
The causes of such a crisis can be as varied as the health issues themselves and may be brought on by everything from viral infections, to a traumatic injury, to an inherited condition. In essence, the AWS is no different than any of us humans; any one of us can come up with an unexpected health problem that comes at us from any number of directions. Still, every breed of dog seems to have its own set of specific problems, some of which show a solid hereditary component, affecting a diverse group of a breed’s population without regard to family ties while others may show little more than a possible tendency to affect certain families. This is why it is important for all breeders – big or small, old or new – to screen for hereditary problems prior to breeding any AWS. With screening we stand a good chance of reducing the occurrence of certain health issues which makes for a healthier American Water Spaniel population and makes life easier for everyone.

The health issues that the AWSC recommends screening for are hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and cardiac abnormalities. Both hip dysplasia and cardiac abnormalities are screened following criteria established by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Eye disorders are screened following the Canine Eye Registration Foundations (CERF) protocols. An AWS that has gone through the process of having these health screenings will be assigned a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) number. That number is only an indicator that the dog has undergone health screening and does not show that the dog was found in good health or free of any abnormalities.

At the present time the above mentioned screenings are the only ones recommended by the AWSC. This should not be taken to mean that these are the only health issues facing the AWS. Others do as well, including canine epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. When considering the purchase of an AWS, be sure to talk to the breeder about the health screening he or she has done and any health issues that may have shown up over the years.