The American Water Spaniel: A Versatile and Loyal Companion


The American Water Spaniel, also known as the AWS, is a highly versatile and intelligent breed of dog. With its unique combination of athleticism, intelligence, and loyalty, the American Water Spaniel is a beloved family pet and a skilled working dog. In this article, we will explore the history, characteristics, care, and training of this remarkable breed.

History of the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel has a rich history that can be traced back to the 19th century in the United States. It is believed to have been developed in the Midwest, specifically in the Great Lakes region, where it was bred for its ability to work in the water and on land. The exact origins of the breed are unclear, but it is thought to be a mix of various spaniel breeds, including the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly-Coated Retriever.

Initially, the American Water Spaniel was primarily used for hunting and retrieving game, especially in marshy areas and dense vegetation. Its webbed feet and waterproof coat made it well-suited for working in these challenging environments. Over time, the breed’s popularity grew, and it became a beloved companion for many families.

Physical Characteristics

The American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized dog with a sturdy build and a well-muscled body. It has a distinctive curly or wavy coat that is dense and waterproof, providing excellent protection in wet conditions. The coat can come in various colors, including liver, brown, and chocolate, and may have white markings.

One of the distinguishing features of the American Water Spaniel is its webbed feet, which help it swim efficiently and navigate through water with ease. The breed also has a broad, expressive head with a slightly domed skull, and its ears are long and set low. The eyes are medium-sized and dark, giving the dog an intelligent and alert expression.

Temperament and Personality

The American Water Spaniel is known for its friendly and outgoing nature. It is a highly sociable breed that thrives on human companionship and enjoys being part of a family. This dog is loving and affectionate towards its owners and gets along well with children and other pets when properly socialized.

Despite its friendly demeanor, the American Water Spaniel is also a protective and loyal breed. It has a strong instinct to guard its family and will alert its owners to any potential danger. This makes it an excellent watchdog.

Intelligence is another notable trait of the American Water Spaniel. It is a quick learner and enjoys mental stimulation. This breed excels in various activities, including obedience training, agility, and tracking. It is also an excellent swimmer and retriever, making it a popular choice for water-related sports.

Caring for an American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel requires regular grooming to keep its coat in good condition. Brushing should be done at least once a week to prevent matting and remove loose hair. Bathing should be done when necessary, taking care to use a dog-specific shampoo that won’t strip the coat of its natural oils.

As an active breed, the American Water Spaniel needs plenty of exercise to keep it physically and mentally stimulated. Daily walks, playtime, and opportunities for swimming are essential to prevent boredom and ensure the dog’s well-being. Interactive toys and puzzle games can also help keep its mind engaged.

Proper training and socialization are crucial for the American Water Spaniel. Early obedience training and exposure to different environments, people, and animals will help ensure that the dog grows up to be well-behaved and confident. Positive reinforcement methods, such as rewards and praise, work best with this breed.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, the American Water Spaniel is prone to certain health conditions. While not all individuals will develop these issues, it is important to be aware of them if you are considering this breed.

Some of the health concerns that can affect the American Water Spaniel include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and allergies. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian, a balanced diet, and providing a safe and clean environment are essential in maintaining the dog’s overall health.

Training and Activities

The American Water Spaniel is a highly trainable breed that excels in various activities. Whether you are looking for a hunting companion, a competitor in dog sports, or simply a well-behaved family pet, the American Water Spaniel can adapt to your needs.

Obedience training should start early and be consistent. The breed responds well to positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise. Training sessions should be kept short and fun to keep the dog engaged and interested.

Due to its strong retrieving instincts and love for water, the American Water Spaniel is well-suited for activities such as dock diving, flyball, and field trials. These activities provide mental and physical stimulation and give the dog an outlet for its energy.


1. Are American Water Spaniels good with children?

Yes, American Water Spaniels are generally good with children. They are known for their friendly and sociable nature and can form strong bonds with kids. However, as with any dog, it is important to supervise interactions between the dog and young children to ensure safety and teach proper handling and respect for the dog.

2. Do American Water Spaniels shed a lot?

American Water Spaniels have a double coat that sheds moderately. Regular brushing can help minimize shedding and keep the coat healthy. However, it is important to note that no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, and individuals with allergies should spend time with the breed to assess their reaction before bringing one into their home.

3. How much exercise does an American Water Spaniel need?

American Water Spaniels are an active breed that requires regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. They benefit from daily walks, playtime, and opportunities to swim. Providing mental stimulation through training, puzzle toys, and interactive games is also essential to prevent boredom.

4. Can American Water Spaniels live in apartments?

American Water Spaniels can adapt to apartment living as long as they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation. However, they do best in homes with access to a secure yard where they can run and play. Regular walks and trips to the dog park are also beneficial for their well-being.

5. Are American Water Spaniels good watchdogs?

Yes, American Water Spaniels can make good watchdogs. They are naturally protective of their family and will alert their owners to any potential threats or strangers. However, it is important to note that their friendly nature may make them more likely to greet strangers in a friendly manner once properly introduced.

6. How long do American Water Spaniels live?

The average lifespan of an American Water Spaniel is around 10 to 14 years. However, with proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups, some individuals have been known to live even longer.

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