American Water Spaniel

Temperament: Eager, Happy, Charming

  1. Height: 15-18 inches
  2. Weight: 30-45 pounds (male), 25-40 pounds (female)
  3. Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
  4. Group: Sporting Group 

The American Water Spaniel, native to the lake country of the upper Midwest, is an upbeat, outdoorsy athlete who loves to hunt and swim. They are known to be happy, eager, and charming, though aloof with strangers and a bit stubborn.


The American Water Spaniel was developed in the United States as an all-around hunting dog, bred to retrieve from skiff or canoes and work ground with relative ease. The American Water Spaniel is an active muscular dog, medium in size with a Marcel to curly coat. Emphasis is placed on proper size and a symmetrical relationship of parts, texture of coat and colour.

About the American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniels are muscular midsize gun dogs, not flashy in looks or performance, and recognisable by a luscious brown coat that is either tightly curled or wavy. Bred to work the icy waters and marshy banks of the Great Lakes region, these spaniels are ideally outfitted for the job: The coat is dense and waterproof, the feet are thickly padded, the toes are webbed, and the body is small enough for the dog to hop in and out of a skiff without rocking the boat. The breed’s admirers describe a merry, intelligent, and versatile spaniel suited to a variety of dog sports. As hunters, they combine the working traits of spaniels and retrievers. The key to the American Water Spaniel’s happiness is activity, especially alongside their adored human. An underemployed dog can be bark and destructive.

NUTRITION The American Water Spaniel should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING – The American Water Spaniel has a dense, waterproof coat that can be either tightly curled or wavy. The breed was bred to work in the icy waters of the Great Lakes region, and its insulating, double-layer coat makes that possible. Weekly grooming is required, but it is a fairly simple process. During the summer, the coat is sparser, and can be brought into shape with a rubber-tipped pin brush. The rest of the year, and especially during shedding season, a slicker brush should be used to remove the dead hair from the undercoat. As with all breeds, the American Water Spaniel‘s nails should be trimmed regularly.

EXERCISE – American Water Spaniels are outdoorsy athletes who love hunting and swimming, so they need ample exercise. Without sufficient activity, they can become bark and destructive. At a minimum, vigorous play sessions with their owner or a companion dog in a park or a large backyard are needed every day. They truly thrive, however, when given a job to do and make great hunting companions—after all, it’s in their DNA. Participating in field trials or obedience, agility, or dock diving events will give the American Water Spaniel a chance to burn off all that excess energy in a positive way.

TRAINING – As with all breeds, early socialisation puppy training classes are highly recommended. Socialisation—gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of about 7 weeks and 4 months—will help him develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. American Water Spaniels are often aloof with strangers, and some may have a touch of stubbornness, but they are happy creatures who want nothing more than to please their owners. This makes training them easy and fun. Given this breed’s energy and innate talents, owners and their dogs enjoy participating together in canine sports such as tracking agility, barn hunt, and fly ball, as well as field events, which teach the dog to flush game and retrieve waterfowl.

HEALTH – As with all breeds, the majority of American Water Spaniels will live long and healthy lives when given proper care and regular veterinarian visits. A responsible breeder will test breeding stock for health concerns such as hip dyspepsia, eye disorders, cardiac abnormalities and degenerative homeopathy.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Cardiac Exam
  3. Ophthalmologist Evaluation

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