American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel dog breed was developed in the American midwest as a working gun dog. He may have some Irish Water Spaniel in his background or some Curly-Coated Retriever. Today, although seen occasionally in dog shows, the American water spaniel is still a prized working gun dog, retrieving small game of any kind.

American Water Spaniels are one of the true American bred dog breeds.  Records have been found to date the breed back to 1865.  American Water Spaniels (AWS) were first bred along the Wolf and Fox River Valleys of Wisconsin.  They were originally known as the Brown Spaniel or the American Brown Spaniel.  AWS is believed to be developed from the Curly Coated Retriever crosses, Irish Water Spaniel, Field Spaniel, and the now extinct  English Water Spaniel.  On February 8, 1920, UKC registered the first AWS “Curly Pfeifer” named after Dr. F. J. Pfeifer, of New London, Wisconsin.  Dr. Pfeifer has been recognized as the father of the breed.  In 1938, the breed found its way into the Field Dog Stud Book and was recognized by AKC in 1940.  The AWS is known as being a versatile gun dog, functioning well in both marsh and uplands.  They were bred small enough to fit into skiffs or canoes, without tipping them over, yet strong enough to retrieve the game.

Very intelligent, trainable, and loyal pet

The American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized dog, standing 15 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 25 to 45 pounds. The dog should be in proportion and well-balanced. The eyes are slightly rounded and maybe yellow-brown to brown, hazel, or dark to harmonize with the coat. The ears are dropped and long.

American water spanielAWS can retrieve various Upland Game and Waterfowl – Canada Geese, Wood Cock, Pheasants, Grouse, Chuckars, Dove, and even small game like Rabbits and Squirrels.   They were bred not only to hunt but to watch over the hunter’s cabin and possessions.   The AWS is not a shy or timid dog, but a cautious one.  They retain much of their original breeding today.  AWS is one of the smallest Sporting Breeds registered with AKC. They are more numerous around the Great Lakes area than the rest of the states; however, one can find American water spaniel breeders scattered throughout the world. American water spaniels generally attach themselves to one owner or a small family.  They have the characteristic of being very intelligent, trainable, and loyal pet.

The American Water Spaniel coat is wavy to curly with a weatherproof undercoat. The coat should be solid liver, brown, or dark chocolate. The coat should be brushed two or three times per week, and the dog should be bathed every other week. Professional grooming is recommended every six to eight weeks. These dogs need daily exercise and playtime.

The American Water Spaniel breed loves to play

The American Water Spaniel breed loves to play. They will bring toys to the owner and set them in the lap to initiate play. They will then dance around in front to encourage the owner to throw the toy.

American Water Spaniel PuppiesAlthough the American Water Spaniel breed standard calls for a friendly dog, some timid dogs are seen. Early socialization is crucial for these dogs. These are quick, intelligent dogs who like to work; they need those traits channeled productively, so early training is imperative.

The American Water Spaniel is easy to train but will shut down if he feels you are unnecessarily harsh. If trained with encouragement, he is a joy to train. The American Water Spaniel can become protective of toys or food.

The American Water Spaniel can be a wonderful family companion, although some bond more strongly with one family member. He is good with children when the kids treat him with respect. When raised with other pets, he is fine with them, although he should never be trusted with birds. Some health concerns include baldness and heart and eye problems.

American Water Spaniel at K9 Research Lab


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