The American Water Spaniel: America’s Hidden Gem


The American Water Spaniel: America’s Hidden Gem

The canine world is filled with an incredible diversity of breeds, each with its own distinct personality, looks, and skills. Among these, the American Water Spaniel stands out as a unique and often overlooked breed. This versatile sporting dog, known for its water skills and hunting abilities, is truly America’s hidden gem.

The Origin of the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel (AWS) has its roots firmly planted in the United States. Originating in the Midwest during the late 18th century, this breed was specifically designed to retrieve waterfowl and small game in the Great Lakes region. The precise ancestry of the AWS remains a mystery, though it’s believed to have descended from a mix of other spaniels and retrievers.

Physical Characteristics and Temperament

The American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized dog with a compact, muscular body that’s built for stamina and strength. They generally weigh between 25 and 45 pounds and stand about 15 to 18 inches tall. They have a distinctive double coat that’s curly or wavy, providing excellent insulation while swimming in cold water.

As for their temperament, AWS is known for their intelligent, eager-to-please personality. They possess a strong instinct for hunting and retrieving, but they’re also very affectionate and loyal, making them excellent pets. These dogs are also known for their alertness, making them good watchdogs.

Training and Exercise Needs

American Water Spaniels require consistent training from a young age. Given their hunting origins, they have a natural desire to work and can become bored and destructive if not given a job to do. Training should focus on obedience, agility, and hunting drills to keep them engaged and satisfied.

Exercise is also crucial for this breed. They are energetic and require regular physical and mental stimulation. A good daily routine would include walks, playtime, and swimming or retrieving games. This will help keep the AWS healthy and content.

Health and Lifespan

Like all breeds, the AWS has its potential health issues. They are prone to certain genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and heart diseases. Regular vet check-ups and a balanced diet can go a long way in ensuring their well-being. With good care, an American Water Spaniel’s lifespan typically ranges from 10 to 15 years.

Grooming Needs

Grooming an AWS can be moderately challenging due to their dense double coat. Regular brushing is necessary to prevent matting and to keep the coat healthy. Furthermore, their ears need regular checking and cleaning as they are susceptible to infections because of their floppy shape.

American Water Spaniel: A Versatile Companion

The American Water Spaniel is not a breed you’ll often see in dog shows or common in households; still, their diverse abilities, charming personality, and loyalty make them a hidden gem. They excel in both water and on land, making them versatile hunting companions.

However, their strong personality and exercise needs may not make them suitable for everyone. Prospective owners need to be prepared to meet their high energy and training needs. With the right care and attention, the American Water Spaniel can prove to be an incredible pet, embodying the best qualities of both a companion and a working dog.


The American Water Spaniel is indeed an underappreciated breed. Their rich history, coupled with their unique skills and endearing personality, makes them truly one of America’s hidden gems in the canine world. With dedicated owners who can cater to their needs, they have the potential to shine not just as working dogs, but also as loving, loyal family pets.