The American Water Spaniel is a rare breed of dog known and loved for its strong, muscular, solid body and friendly personality. The coat can be solid brown, liver, or dark chocolate, and is uniformly wavy or closely curled. Considered cute due to its wide nose, long and wide ears, and rounded eyes, the American Water Spaniel is a favorite with children. The breed measures 15 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 25 to 45 pounds. With proper care, these dogs live up to 12 years.
They very much enjoy the water and getting wet, and they'll have a great time boating, swimming, or accompanying their family on other water-related adventures.
American Water Spaniels are very active and good with children, which makes them ideal companions for families. Due to their high energy levels, they are best suited for active families, especially those that frequently participate in outdoor activities. The breed is loyal and alert, which makes American Water Spaniels excellent watchdogs.
Although this breed had declining numbers in the early 1900s, its popularity is again increasing and it is no longer in danger of extinction. The American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin.
Friendly and eager to please, the American Water Spaniel makes a great addition to most households. These dogs love company and being around people, and they are intelligent, affectionate, adaptable, and easy going. These high-energy dogs are great with children and get along decently with cats, but they may have some issues socializing with other dogs.
American Water Spaniels are an assertive, playful, and energetic breed, which makes them good choices for active families. They very much enjoy the water and getting wet, and they'll have a great time boating, swimming, or accompanying their family on other water-related adventures.
American Water Spaniels strongly prefer to live indoors, in the middle of the family action. They do not like to live outside and may become depressed if left alone for long periods. They tend to do best when given a job to perform or have another means of focusing their energy.
American Water Spaniels are more prone than other breeds to adult-onset growth hormone-responsive dermatosis, which causes hair loss. The breed is also at risk for eye problems, including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and entropion, a condition where the eyelids roll inward. Hip dysplasia, mitral valve disease, pulmonic stenosis, and patellar luxation are other health problems seen in this breed.
While this breed is generally healthy, its tendency to develop several potentially severe disorders means caution is required when purchasing these dogs from a breeder. It's always wise to determine the health of the line and to thoroughly examine any puppy before purchase or adoption.
With proper nutrition, regular veterinary checkups, a nutritious diet, routine vaccinations, and plenty of exercise, American Water Spaniels generally live 10 to 12 years.
The American Water Spaniel's eagerness to please makes the breed responsive to obedience training. These dogs learn best with consistent, gentle training and respond especially well to positive reinforcement, including praise, play, and food rewards. Punishment or harsh training may cause the breed to shut down, but this does not mean these dogs should be allowed to get away with negative behavior.
The breed is slow to mature and has high exercise needs, both of which can lead to behavior problems early in life. Early socialization and training can minimize these issues and prevent or correct other problems common in the breed, such as shyness, aggression toward other dogs, and food guarding. Additionally, frequent and vigorous exercise will reduce hyperactivity, excessive barking, and other negative behaviors. American Water Spaniels need daily exercise.
These dogs have a very strong desire to hunt and tend to be territorial. However, both of these traits are manageable with training. American Water Spaniels that are uncontrollable in the field need to work with a professional behaviorist.
The American Water Spaniel has a thick wavy or curly coat that is prone to tangling and matting. Because of this, the breed requires brushing at least every few days. Comb the coat first to remove tangles, and make certain to groom the hair between the toes and on the paws. Also, comb these dogs every time they come in from outdoors to remove leaves, sticks, and other debris from the coat. Although this breed is not prone to excessive shedding, a slicker brush will help remove dead hair.
American Water Spaniels don't need frequent bathing, but they must be rinsed with freshwater after swimming in saltwater or in freshwater with significant levels of algae. Trim the nails every couple of weeks, clean the foot pads as needed, and keep the ears dry to prevent yeast and bacterial infections. Skin symptoms and hair loss require veterinary attention.
There's not much historical information on American Water Spaniels, but the breed likely descended from the Curly-Coated Retriever and the Irish Water Spaniel. These dogs were developed in the Great Lakes areas of the United States during the 1800s and were first bred as hunters that could also retrieve from boats.
When settlers in America began heading west, the American Water Spaniel went with them. They were considered good companions and were prized for their ability to fit into small boats and retrieve reliably.
Breeders worked very hard to keep the American Water Spaniel breed out of the show ring for many years. They believed it would ruin their reputation as hunters.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the American Water Spaniel in 1940.