American Water Spaniel Dog Breed

  • Other names:
  • American Brown Spaniel
Overview

Pronunciation: [ Amer•i•can water span•yəl ]

When it comes to the American Water Spaniel (AWS), it might be difficult to get past the unique look of this extraordinary dog. While she may look like a Poodle mixed with a Spaniel, what with the curly coat and the massive ears, she is indeed a purebred dog. It's unknown just how this breed was developed, and these dogs are extremely rare. Named the official state dog of Wisconsin in 1985, the AWS is a highly desirable gun dog that nevertheless remains somewhat of a curiosity.

American Water Spaniel Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred10-12 yrs.15-18 in.25-45 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The American Water Spaniel is a bonafide hunting dog that is highly prized for her remarkable work ethic and abilities. This is a very versatile breed that, while they can be trained for a lot of types of work, is best as a gun dog. They are definitely not for first-time dog owners, and even people who have some experience with canines may find their resources, patience, and more worn thin even as they strive to not upset this dog's fragile temperament. While these dogs are OK as companions and they play well with mature kids, they are at their best when allowed to fulfill their hunting and retrieval duties on a regular and frequent basis.

Here are some things about American Water Spaniels you should know if you plan on adopting one of these dogs:

  • Pros
  • Beautiful coat
  • Very low shedder
  • Top-notch gun dog
  • Perfect for highly active lifestyles
  • Great watchdog in certain environments
  • Cons
  • Expensive
  • Extremely sensitive
  • Barks at most everyone
  • Mental stimulation a must
  • Adoption waiting lists are long
  • Very prone to separation anxiety
  • Requires a great amount of daily exercise

American Water Spaniel Breed Description

If you plan to adopt one of these superior hunting dogs, it's absolutely recommended that you gather as much information as you can to make a fully informed decision. Below is a bit of American Water Spaniel dogs 101 that will help guide you.

These Spaniels are extremely intelligent yet fragile in their personality. Like a well-tuned model airplane engine, they can do great things but must be handled delicately. They are gun dogs who, once fully trained, will not flinch at the blast but will wither if you get cross with them. They are born with the brains to hunt, retrieve, and more, but they need time and great patience for it all to work.

Despite their tenacity in the field and stream, these dogs are known to be very wary of strangers. Their aloofness even to people they've previously met should not be punished. When they are ready to be someone's friend, and in whatever capacity they chose to do so (from just saying "hi" to hanging out with the new friend), they should be allowed to do so.

The American Water Spaniel requires not just an extraordinary amount of daily exercise but also agility activity and other things to keep them mentally stimulated. As they can get quickly anxious if neglected in any way, this is not a dog to let lie around or be left alone.

American Water Spaniel Temperament

The American Water Spaniel temperament is best described as enthusiastic, delicate, and willing to please. Once trained and socialized, these gun dogs are durable, hard-working, and energetic. So long as they are occupied, allowed to be active, and kept mentally stimulated, the AWS will be very happy. They will work well with other dogs with which they are familiar, but they have a habit of dominating strange dogs. They do not well with small, furry, non-canine pets.

American Water Spaniels tend to prefer one person to whom they are devoted even as they will be friendly with family and friends. They do make decent watchdogs although they must be trained to do so. These are very vocal dogs who are accustomed to alerting their master of anything that moves. After a long day of exercise or work, they will love nothing more than to curl up on your lap for the evening and to follow you to bed afterward!

Living Requirements

These highly versatile dogs may or may not be a good guard dog depending where you live. For rural areas and on farms, American Water Spaniels are excellent as they'll bark when anyone approaches. In suburban areas or cities, the barking can clearly be a problem. On the other hand, they are prone to separation anxiety.

The farm or a rural area with lots of open area and hunting activity is what is best for this breed. If they are in a small apartment, city home, or suburban house, they'll need a good-sized yard as well as plenty of daily exercise. These dogs demand a lot of personal responsibility, especially if they are not utilized for hunting.

The American Water Spaniel doesn't shed much. Oddly, it's not hypoallergenic even as it looks like it should be: a curly, Poodle-like coat. There is nevertheless a lot of grooming maintenance but little to vacuum around the home.

American Water Spaniel Health

The American Water Spaniel is a breed with a good health profile, but they do have some problems that can occur, and not all of them are common. The American Water Spaniel Club devotes a letter outlining that which should be done to make sure this breed remains strong. Be aware that there are also field injuries that can occur from running, swimming, and retrieval.

Here is a list of health problems that are possible with these kinds of Spaniels:

  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Distichiasis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • Mitral Valve Disease
  • Lenticular Opacities
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Pattern Baldness (Saddle Alopecia)
  • Growth Hormone-Responsive Dermatitis


The average lifespan of the American Water Spaniel is 10 to 12 years.

  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Distichiasis
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart Disease
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mitral Valve Disease
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • View all 11...

American Water Spaniel Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the American Water Spaniel as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • National Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 11...