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American Water Spaniel Dog Breed

About the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel, often referred to as AWS or the American Brown, is a true American original, known for its capabilities as both a skilled retriever and a loyal companion. Originating in the Upper Midwest, this breed boasts a rich history that’s intertwined with American culture at-large, particularly in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. With a versatile, medium-sized framework, the AWS has been historically praised for its prowess as a waterfowl hunter thanks to its water-resistant coat and enthusiastic nature. The breed’s affectionate and intelligent demeanor also makes it a cherished member of the family, winning hearts at home as well as in the field.

AKC Group

AKC Group


Dog Breed Height


15 – 18 Inches

Dog Breed Weight


25 – 45 Pounds

Dog Breed Lifespan


10 – 14 Years


Country of Origin United States
Bred For Flushing & Retrieving Birds & Various Game, Companionship
Known For Swimming, Marcel or Curly Coat, Friendliness
Popularity Moderately Low
Temperament Charming, Eager, Happy
Activities Hunting, Swimming, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is a breed rooted in the American Midwest. Its history is intertwined with the development of the United States itself, mirroring the country’s expansion west and its changing landscape.

The exact origins of the AWS remain a subject of debate among canine historians. While its ancestry is not crystal clear, it is believed that the breed resulted from the selective crossing of various water dogs and spaniels brought to the US by early immigrants. Some suggest a mix of the Irish Water Spaniel and Curly-Coated Retriever, whereas others propose an influence from the extinct English Water Spaniel.

Regardless of its precise lineage, the American Water Spaniel emerged as a distinct breed in the 19th century, particularly in the waterways throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here it found a niche as a versatile hunting companion, prized for its ability to retrieve from boats under challenging conditions. The breed’s medium size allowed it to maneuver easily in boats, and its water-resistant coat provided protection from the cold waters.

In those early days, the AWS was known by various names, including the American Brown Spaniel, Brown Water Spaniel, and American Brown Water Spaniel. Its versatility extended beyond hunting as the breed was also a beloved family companion, watchdog, and general farm dog.

The push for official recognition saw the American Water Spaniel Club formed in the 1920s. This was a significant milestone, leading to the breed’s eventual recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1940. Its status was further cemented when Wisconsin declared the breed its Official State Dog in 1985.

While hunting remains in its DNA, the modern AWS is a multifaceted breed, participating in various dog sports and serving as a treasured family companion. The breed’s dedicated following works tirelessly to preserve its unique characteristics, ensuring its legacy for future generations.

Today, the American Water Spaniel stands as a testament to American ingenuity, reflecting the nation’s spirit of adaptability, resilience, and versatility.

General Appearance

Height & Weight

American Water Spaniels typically stand between 15 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder at maturity.

In terms of weight, an adult male American Water Spaniel usually weighs between 30 to 45 pounds, with mature females tending to be slightly lighter, ranging from 25 to 40 pounds.

Proportion & Substance

The American Water Spaniel possesses a body that’s slightly longer than it is tall, giving it a somewhat rectangular proportion. This characteristic allows for ample lung capacity and stamina, perfect for its historic role as a hunter. In terms of substance, the AWS has a sturdy build, being neither too light nor excessively heavy. This balanced construction provides these dogs with the necessary endurance needed in the field, as well as the agility to maneuver through various terrain.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The American Water Spaniel sports a double coat that’s uniquely designed to protect the dog from harsh weather conditions, particularly in cold water. The coat’s textures can range from marcel (uniform waves) to closely curled, with a water-repellant outer coat and an undercoat that provides essential warmth and insulation in virtually any environment.

American Water Spaniel Colors

Standard Color
Brown ee
Chocolate ee
Liver ee

A Note About Color: The brown, chocolate, or liver-colored coat of the American Water Spaniels typically exhibit no markings, adding to the breed’s uniform and neat presentation. However, a small amount of white hairs on the chest and/or toes is permissible.


The head of the American Water Spaniel is a defining feature of the breed, exemplifying its intelligence, attentiveness, and friendly demeanor.

  • Skull: The breed’s skull is broad and moderately long, showing a slight stop between the eyes. It is neither too rounded nor too flat, presenting a well-balanced appearance instead.
  • Expression: The American Water Spaniel’s expression is one of keen alertness. The breed’s eyes, together with its signature head shape and facial features, radiate a sense of intelligence and curiosity.
  • Eyes: The eyes are medium in size, set somewhat obliquely, and come in a harmonious shade of brown or hazel, complementing the coat color. Yellow eyes are unacceptable.
  • Ears: Set above eye level and hanging close to the head, the ears of the AWS are covered with curls or waves that are similar in texture to the rest of the coat. They are sufficiently broad but not too long, lending to the breed’s characteristically friendly appearance.
  • Muzzle: The muzzle is square and of moderate length, neither snipey nor too broad. It narrows slightly from the stop to the nose.
  • Nose: The nose is dark, harmonizing with the color of the coat. It is well-developed, indicating the breed’s strong scenting ability.
  • Bite: The American Water Spaniel has a scissors bite, where the upper incisors fit snugly over the lower incisors, ensuring a firm grip while retrieving.

A photo of an American Water Spaniel's head.

The American Water Spaniel – What to Consider?

When an American Water Spaniel is brought into the home, the newest family member brings with it both versatility and affection. While its hunting prowess is notable, it’s the breed’s loving nature and adaptability that make it a cherished companion. However, like any breed, understanding the individual AWS’s specific needs and characteristics is crucial to ensure a harmonious relationship.

Home Life

Interaction With Family

The level of affection a breed typically shows towards family members and familiar individuals will vary. While some breeds may only show genuine warmth towards their owner, remaining standoffish with strangers, other breeds will treat everyone they meet as if they are their closest friend.
Independent Affectionate

Good With Other Dogs

The innate friendliness of a dog towards other dogs can depend on its breed. Although supervision is always recommended during introductions, certain breeds tend to be inherently more or less sociable with other dogs, whether in a home setting or in public spaces.
Not Recommended Reliable With Other Dogs

Good With Young Children

The degree to which a breed will typically be patient with young children, and its overall suitability as a family member, will vary. It is important to always supervise interactions between dogs and the kids in the house, as well as with children who are not accustomed to being around dogs.
Not Recommended Dependable With Children


Amount Of Shedding

The amount of hair that a dog sheds will typically depend on its breed. Heavy-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing, have a higher chance of activating specific allergies, and often necessitate more frequent use of the vacuum cleaner and lint rollers.
Low High

Frequency Of Grooming

The regularity with which a breed needs bathing, brushing, trimming, or other forms of coat care is an all-important consideration. When evaluating the grooming effort required, consider your available time, patience, and budget. It is important to note that all breeds need routine ear, teeth, and nail care.
Monthly Daily

Amount Of Drooling

The tendency of a breed to drool significantly varies from breed to breed. For those who prefer cleanliness or are particular about keeping things tidy, breeds that are likely to leave trails of drool on your arm or large slobbery marks on your clothing and furniture might not be the best fit.
Low High

Coat Type


Coat Length




Trainability Level

The ease with which a dog can be trained and its eagerness to learn new skills can depend on the breed. Some breeds are naturally inclined to please their owners and will readily accept training, while others tend to follow their own desires, often showing independence in how, when, and where they choose to do things.
Stubborn Eager

Barking Level

The frequency of vocalization, including barking and howling, will vary from breed to breed. Some may bark at each person who passes by and every bird in the sky, while others will typically bark only for a good reason. Additionally, a few breeds that do not typically bark will still be vocal, using different sounds to communicate.
Quiet Vocal

Energy Level

The level of physical exercise and mental engagement required will depend on the breed. High-energy breeds are always on the go. They are enthusiastic about their next activity and tend to be busy most of the time, running, jumping, and playing throughout the day. In contrast, low-energy breeds are akin to couch potatoes, content to just lounge around and take naps throughout the day.
Couch Potato Busybody

Need For Mental Stimulation

The extent of mental stimulation needed to keep a dog content and healthy will vary by breed. Dogs bred for specific purposes may need tasks involving decision-making, problem-solving, and concentration. Without sufficient mental exercise, these dogs can resort to creating their own activities to engage their minds, resulting in unwanted behaviors like chewing, digging, and escaping.
Minimal Engagement Intensive Interaction

American Water Spaniel Health

In general, the American Water Spaniel is a robust and hearty breed, often showing resilience against many common canine health issues. As with all breeds, however, they can be susceptible to certain conditions.

Lifespan: The average life expectancy of an AWS is around 10 to 14 years. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and ample exercise can play a significant role in ensuring overall good health and longevity.

Potential Health Risks

Like all dog breeds and mixed breeds, the American Water Spaniel can be predisposed to specific health challenges. While not all AWS will experience these health issues, it is beneficial for potential owners to be aware of them.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Over time, this can lead to arthritis.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This family of eye diseases involves the gradual deterioration of the retina, which can lead to compromised night vision and eventual blindness.
  • Mitral Valve Disease: A heart condition prevalent in older dogs, this disease involves leaking of the mitral valve, causing blood to flow in two directions.
  • Ear Infections: Given the breed’s hanging ears and love of water, the AWS can be prone to ear infections. Regular ear cleaning can help to prevent this from occurring.
  • Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland that can lead to obesity, joint pain, skin conditions, and other symptoms.

While these health concerns might sound alarming, regular veterinary check-ups, paired with a good understanding of the breed’s essential needs, can go a long way toward ensuring the American Water Spaniel lives a healthy and vibrant life.

American Water Spaniel Personality

The American Water Spaniel embodies a blend of enthusiasm and affection, making it an adaptable companion for various households. As a breed, the AWS is remarkably well-suited for novice dog owners. Its eager-to-please attitude, combined with an inherent intelligence, makes it both patient and responsive to consistent training methods.

This breed exhibits a heightened level of sensitivity, often forming profound bonds with its family members. Such closeness means these dogs typically thrive on human interaction and can be particularly attuned to the moods of their owners. It’s crucial, therefore, to approach training with gentle, positive reinforcement techniques, as these dogs may not respond well to harsh corrections.

When it comes to solitude, the American Water Spaniel values its independent moments, particularly during playtime or moments of exploration. However, these dogs aren’t fond of prolonged periods of solitude, as extended loneliness can result in signs of anxiety or other undesirable behaviors.

Social by nature, the AWS typically gets along well with other dogs. This sociability can be enhanced further with early socialization, ensuring each dog’s amicable nature continues well into adulthood. The breed’s typically friendly and tolerant temperament also extends to children, making these dogs excellent family pets. Still, interactions between dogs and young children should always be supervised to be sure safety for both parties is provided at all times.

Strangers may find the AWS initially reserved or cautious, yet this breed has a knack for warming up quickly once it has assessed there is no genuine threat. This cautiousness can be mitigated with early exposure to various people and environments, helping to build confidence in unfamiliar situations.

In essence, the American Water Spaniel’s personality, rooted in its historic roles and its inherently affectionate nature, is a testament to the breed’s adaptability and endearing character. Building a bond with an AWS involves understanding and cherishing these unique characteristics.

American Water Spaniel Feeding & Nutrition

Feeding the American Water Spaniel requires recognizing a balance between its energy needs and maintaining a healthy weight. Just as with any dog, the diet should be adapted to each dog’s life stage, activity level, and overall health.

For puppies, the nutrition should support their rapid growth. Puppies have different nutritional requirements than adults, often needing more protein and fat. Feeding a high-quality puppy food ensures they get the vital nutrients for bone, muscle, and brain development. It’s typical for puppies to be fed multiple times a day, usually three to four, to support their fast metabolism and growth spurts.

As the American Water Spaniel transitions to adulthood, the metabolic rate tends to slow down, and so a dog’s diet should change accordingly. Most adult AWS can thrive on two meals a day. The amount of food largely depends on the dog’s weight, age, and activity level, but a general guideline would be to offer 1 to 2 cups of high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals. Always refer to the feeding recommendations on the dog food label and adjust as needed based on your dog’s condition and energy expenditure.

Feeding charts can be particularly beneficial as they offer a roadmap for feeding the breed at different stages of life. However, it’s essential to monitor the American Water Spaniel’s weight and adjust portions if you notice them gaining or losing weight. Regular vet check-ups can also guide feeding decisions and address any dietary concerns.

American Water Spaniels are active and agile, often partaking in outdoor activities. This high level of activity can sometimes require slight adjustments in their diet to ensure they are getting enough calories. On the other hand, if your AWS is more of a couch companion, be mindful of overfeeding, as obesity can lead to other health issues.

American Water Spaniel Training

Training an American Water Spaniel is an engaging journey, one that is anchored in the breed’s natural intelligence and eagerness to please, with a touch of an independent streak.

Starting early is the key. Puppies soak up information much like a sponge, and introducing them to basic commands from a tender age can set the foundation for advanced training later on. This breed is known for its versatility in the field as a hunter and retriever, which means they come with a sharp intellect. However, this intelligence also means they can quickly pick up bad habits if not directed positively.

While the American Water Spaniel is eager to please, though they aren’t always the easiest to train. Consistency is crucial. It’s essential to establish clear boundaries and stick to them. Their sensitive nature means that they might not respond well to harsh methods or negative reinforcement. Instead, positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, or play, will yield better results.

It’s also worth noting that while the AWS is generally a quiet dog, it can develop a barking habit if bored or in need of seeking attention. Addressing this early on, offering enough mental and physical stimulation, and teaching the “quiet” command can help curb excessive barking.

Additionally, the breed’s inherent prey drive and potential for wanderlust mean that while an AWS might be excellent off-leash in controlled environments, there’s always a chance it might get distracted by birds or small animals. Thus, recall training is vital, ensuring the dog comes back when called, regardless of distractions.

Lastly, socialization is an integral part of the training process. Exposing the American Water Spaniel to various environments, sounds, people, and other animals from a young age can all but guarantee each dog grows up to become a well-rounded and confident adult.

American Water Spaniel Exercise

The American Water Spaniel, originally bred for hunting and retrieving in water and rough terrains, inherently possesses a moderate to high energy level. Meeting each dog’s exercise needs is pivotal to its overall well-being, both mentally and physically.

Exercise Expectations

Energy Level High
Exercise Requirements 1 Hour/Day (Minimum), Daily Walks, Weekly Swimming, Regular Exercise, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation

One of the standout characteristics of the AWS is its versatility in exercise. These dogs are equally at home playing fetch in the yard, swimming in a lake, or taking a long walk in the woods. Their affinity for water, as their name suggests, means that swimming can be an excellent form of exercise for them. This not only caters to their natural instincts but also provides a low-impact workout, beneficial for their joints.

Yet, it’s not just about physical exercise. The American Water Spaniel is an intelligent breed that thrives on mental stimulation. Incorporating games that challenge each dog’s mind, like puzzle toys or hide and seek games, can be just as crucial as daily walks.

Despite the breed’s energy level, the intensity of activity they display is somewhat moderate. These dogs appreciate bursts of play, interspersed with periods of relaxation. A well-exercised AWS is not just about tiring the dog out, it means a balanced regimen of physical activity and mental challenges is provided.

Playfulness is another inherent trait of the AWS. Engaging in a fun activity, be it tug-of-war or fetch, strengthens the bond between the dog and its person, and it offers the sheer joy that comes with playtime.

However, it’s essential to be attentive to their signals. While tAmerican Water Spaniels are energetic, each individual dog has its own limits. Over-exercising, especially in puppies, can be detrimental to their developing joints and growth plates.

American Water Spaniel Grooming

The American Water Spaniel, with its distinctive curly or wavy (marcel) coat, requires a specialized approach to grooming to ensure its coat remains in optimal condition and the dog stays comfortable.

Grooming Expectations

Coat Type Wavy to Curly
Grooming Requirements Weekly Brushing, Occasional Bathing, Routine Ear Cleaning, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing

This breed’s coat is designed to be water-resistant, a testament to its historical role as a waterfowl retrieval. It’s a double coat; a soft, dense undercoat that provides insulation and a protective outer coat that repels water. To maintain the health and functionality of this unique coat, regular grooming is essential.

While American Water Spaniels are not considered a heavy shedder, they do shed year-round. Brushing the coat at least twice a week helps to remove loose hair, prevent tangles, and distribute the natural oils of the skin. This routine not only keeps the coat looking its best, it also provides an opportunity to check the dog for any signs of skin issues, injuries, ticks, or other external parasites.

Despite the breed’s love for water, the AWS doesn’t need frequent baths. Overbathing can strip the coat of its natural oils, potentially leading to dry skin. Instead, it’s advisable to bathe these dogs as needed, which might be after a particularly muddy adventure or if they start to develop an odor.

It’s also essential to consider other aspects of grooming. Regularly checking and cleaning ears can help prevent infections, especially given the American Water Spaniel’s propensity for water activities where moisture can get trapped. Additionally, trimming nails, brushing teeth, and ensuring that eyes are clear and free from debris are all parts of a comprehensive grooming regimen.

Living with an American Water Spaniel

Living with an American Water Spaniel is a rewarding experience, blending moments of active play with those of cozy relaxation. But, as with any breed, understanding the particular needs and temperament of the AWS is helpful toward maintaining a harmonious living environment for everyone.

While the American Water Spaniel is a medium-sized breed, individual dogs are adaptable to various living conditions. Whether in a house with a yard or an apartment setting, this breed can thrive if regular exercise and mental stimulation are provided. If living in an apartment, it becomes even more critical to ensure an AWS receives daily walks and play sessions to expend all that energy.

The American Water Spaniel’s thick double coat provides some level of insulation against cold weather. The breed’s historical ties to water retrieval in chilly conditions mean this dog can handle cooler temperatures better than extreme heat. However, it’s essential to monitor the AWS in icy conditions, ensuring the paws are free from ice and salt residue.

In contrast, during hot weather, the thick coat of an AWS can make these dogs more susceptible to overheating. It’s crucial to provide them with ample shade and fresh water, and to avoid intense physical activity during the hottest parts of the day. Remember, while the breed loves water, not every AWS will automatically seek it out to cool down. So, it’s the owner’s responsibility to address their comfort needs in scorching conditions.

The breed’s friendly and sociable nature makes the American Water Spaniel a great companion for families, singles, and seniors alike. Their sensitivity, however, means they thrive in environments where they are considered part of the family, involved in daily activities and given consistent attention.

American Water Spaniel Puppies

The charm and energy of an American Water Spaniel puppy are undeniable. These little bundles of joy bring with them the promise of companionship, loyalty, and countless memories to come. But as with any breed, the early days are crucial in shaping a well-adjusted, healthy adult dog.

Caring for an American Water Spaniel Puppy

The journey of nurturing an American Water Spaniel puppy into a well-adjusted adult is an intricate dance of attention, love, and understanding. When you bring home an AWS puppy, you’re not just welcoming a pet; you’re embarking on a commitment to shape and guide its growth every step of the way.

One of the fundamental pillars in the early days is proper nutrition. The rapid growth and boundless energy of a puppy demand high-quality food tailored for medium-sized breeds. Making an informed choice ensures that bones, muscles, and organs develop harmoniously. Regular consultations with a veterinarian can help to fine-tune the dietary regimen, ensuring the puppy thrives.

As AWS puppies take their first tentative steps into the world, they’re forming impressions of everything they encounter. This period of early socialization is a window of opportunity to mold a well-rounded dog. By exposing them to various sounds, sights, and experiences in a positive manner, you lay the foundation for an adult dog that’s confident and sociable. Engaging in puppy classes can be immensely beneficial, offering not just training but a chance for young pups to interact with their peers.

In tandem with socialization is the importance of regular health check-ups. The first year is a tapestry of milestones and growth spurts, and having periodic vet visits will ensure that your puppy is on the right track. These appointments aren’t just for vaccinations but also provide an opportunity to discuss future health strategies and address any budding concerns.

Training, too, becomes a cornerstone of these early months. The intelligence and curiosity of an AWS puppy can be a double-edged sword. While they’re eager learners, there’s an underlying streak of stubbornness in them too. Guiding them with a gentle, consistent hand, peppered with positive reinforcement, can work wonders. Introducing them to the concept of crate training can also provide a sanctuary, a safe space they recognize as uniquely their own.

And amidst all the training and learning, there’s the sheer joy of play! The youthful exuberance of American Water Spaniel puppies is a sight to behold. Their playful antics, interspersed with periods of rest, are not just a source of entertainment but also a mechanism for them to understand their environment. Incorporating toys, puzzles, and interactive games can be both a source of physical activity and a tool for mental stimulation.

American Water Spaniel Activities & Dog Sports

The American Water Spaniel, with its athletic build and enthusiastic nature, is a breed that thrives when engaged in physical and mental activities. Owners seeking to tap into the natural instincts and talents of their AWS have a plethora of options to explore.

  • Hunting Trials: True to their roots, many American Water Spaniels still excel in the field as exceptional bird dogs. Participating in Hunting Trials can be a great way to harness their natural retrieving instincts.
  • Agility: The agility and nimbleness of the AWS make them suitable contenders for Agility courses, where they can navigate a series of obstacles, jumps, and tunnels at top speeds.
  • Obedience Trials: Given the right training, the American Water Spaniel can showcase its intelligence and discipline through Obedience Trials, responding to a series of commands from their handlers.
  • Rally Obedience: A twist on traditional Obedience, Rally Obedience offers a more interactive experience where both dog and handler navigate a course with different stations requiring specific tasks.
  • Dock Diving: Leveraging the breed’s love for water, Dock Diving events see the AWS jumping off a dock to retrieve an item, often competing for distance or height.
  • Scent Work: Given their acute sense of smell, American Water Spaniels can excel in Scent Work, where they locate specific scents in various search scenarios.
  • Water Trials: Specifically designed for water-loving breeds, Water Trials test the dog’s ability to perform specific tasks in the water, from retrieving to boat exercises.

Engaging in these activities not only provides physical exercise but also mental stimulation for the AWS. Moreover, participating in dog sports fosters a deeper bond between the dog and its human companion, creating shared experiences and lasting memories.

Group Classification & Standards

The American Water Spaniel is recognized by the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations, which categorize the breed into a specific Group based on its unique characteristics. This breed is recognized worldwide under the following Group designations:

International Organizations

Organization Group Designation
AKC (American Kennel Club) Sporting
UKC (United Kennel Club) Gun Dog
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Sporting Dogs
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) Not Recognized
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club) Gundog
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) Group 8 – Retrievers – Flushing Dogs – Water Dogs; Section 3 – Water Dogs

The ideal American Water Spaniel is described by a Breed Standard that is approved by each of the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations. The Breed Standards for this breed may be found in the following links:

Breed Standards

Organization Breed Standard
American Kennel Club AKC American Water Spaniel Breed Standard
United Kennel Club UKC American Water Spaniel Breed Standard
Canadian Kennel Club CKC American Water Spaniel Breed Standard
Australian National Kennel Council Not Recognized
The Royal Kennel Club RKC American Water Spaniel Breed Standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale FCI American Water Spaniel Breed Standard

American Water Spaniel Clubs

For enthusiasts and owners of the American Water Spaniel, breed clubs serve as vital hubs of information, networking, and advocacy. These organizations play an instrumental role in preserving the breed’s rich legacy and fostering community among its admirers.

In the United States, the American Water Spaniel Club (AWSC) stands as the premier organization dedicated to this unique breed. Established in the 1920s, the AWSC has tirelessly championed the American Water Spaniel’s cause, preparing Breed Standards, and promoting responsible ownership. Beyond its administrative role, the club is a vibrant community, organizing a myriad of events ranging from Hunt Tests and Conformation shows to educational seminars that cater to both seasoned breeders and novices alike.

Canada does not have a dedicated American Water Spaniel breed club. However, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) formally recognizes the breed. In the absence of a specific AWS organization, regional sporting dog clubs in Canada warmly embrace the breed, hosting events and providing resources to enthusiasts.

Joining or engaging with these clubs provides admirers of the American Water Spaniel with a wealth of knowledge and opportunities to connect with others who share the same passion for this iconic American breed.

American Water Spaniel Rescue Groups

The commitment to a breed doesn’t stop at breed clubs and dog shows. Rescue groups play a pivotal role in ensuring that dogs in need find loving forever homes. For the American Water Spaniel, dedicated individuals and organizations work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome these wonderful dogs.

In the United States, several groups focus on spaniels, and among them, the American Water Spaniel Rescue Me is noteworthy. This organization specializes in the rescue and placement of AWS in distress, whether they’ve been abandoned, lost, or surrendered. The volunteers and members ensure that each dog receives the medical attention, care, and love they deserve before finding the perfect home.

Canada has a broad network of spaniel rescue organizations. While they might not be specific to the American Water Spaniel, many of these groups have experience with the breed and occasionally have AWS looking for homes.

In the United Kingdom, while the American Water Spaniel is rarer, spaniel-specific rescue groups sometimes encounter the breed. They work to provide dogs in need with loving homes or they collaborate with international organizations to find the best placement for each dog in need of a forever home.

American Water Spaniel Facts

  • State Dog Status: The American Water Spaniel holds the unique distinction of being the Official State Dog of Wisconsin, a recognition it achieved in 1985.
  • Rare Yet Treasured: Despite its rich history and unique characteristics, the American Water Spaniel is considered a rare breed. This rarity, however, only adds to its charm and value among enthusiasts.
  • All-American Breed: The AWS is one of the few breeds that can truly claim to be all-American, having been developed solely within the United States, primarily in the Upper Midwest.
  • Versatile Hunter: Historically, this breed was cherished for its versatility in hunting. Whether it was hunting from boats, retrieving from icy waters, or tracking game on land, the AWS proved to be an indispensable companion for hunters.
  • Double Duty Coat: The American Water Spaniel’s coat is not just for looks. Its double-layered coat serves a dual purpose: the outer coat repels water while the dense undercoat provides insulation, keeping the dog warm in colder conditions.
  • Vocal Personality: Many AWS owners would attest to their dog’s vocal nature. Whether it’s barking at strangers, expressing excitement, or merely “talking” to their family, this breed isn’t shy about using its voice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are American Water Spaniels hypoallergenic?

No, American Water Spaniels are not considered hypoallergenic. However, their curly or wavy (marcel) coat might produce fewer allergens when compared to some other breeds.

Do American Water Spaniels shed?

Yes, American Water Spaniels do shed, but typically not as much as many other breeds. Regular grooming can help to manage and reduce the amount of loose hair.

Are American Water Spaniels as energetic as Boykins?

Both American Water Spaniels and Boykin Spaniels are energetic breeds known for their hunting and retrieving skills. While an individual dog’s energy level will vary, on the whole, both breeds are quite active and require regular exercise.

Do American Water Spaniels bark a lot?

American Water Spaniels can be quite vocal. They may bark to alert their owners of strangers, out of excitement, or if they are left alone for extended periods. Proper training and socialization can help to mitigate excessive barking.

Is the American Water Spaniel a good family dog?

Yes, American Water Spaniels are known for being friendly and loyal, making them excellent family dogs. They generally get along well with children and other pets when properly socialized.

Can an American Water Spaniel be left home alone all day?

While American Water Spaniels are adaptable, like all dogs, they thrive on companionship and shouldn’t be regularly left alone for extended periods. Prolonged isolation can lead to boredom, separation anxiety, and undesirable behaviors.

Is the American Water Spaniel a good hunting dog?

Absolutely! The American Water Spaniel was originally bred for hunting and retrieving in water. They are known for their versatility in the field, skillful with both waterfowl retrieves and upland game hunting.

Do American Water Spaniels have hair or fur?

This is an interesting question. American Water Spaniels have a unique coat of uniform waves or close curls. Their coat is double-layered, with a water-resistant outer coat and a dense, protective undercoat. The coat helps to protect these outgoing spaniels from the elements, especially when the dogs are working in water.


Picture of Dan Sayers

Dan Sayers

Dan Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief of SHOWSIGHT digital and print publications. He received a B.S. from Drexel University where he studied interior architectural design. His professional career has allowed him to develop his planning, problem-solving, and project management skills, which were employed in the office, educational, and financial sectors. While working as a project manager, he earned a Graphic Design Certificate from the University of the Arts and began creating ads for many of America’s top-winning show dogs. Through this work, Dan became Editor-in-Chief of the nation’s first online-only dog show publication. His current role expands on this experience and broadly extends to cover the sport of dogs in Companion and Performance events as well as all aspects of Conformation.

Dan is a long-time member of the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America and is the organization’s current AKC Delegate and Archivist/Historian, as well as a club-approved Breed Mentor. From 2000-2010, he was the club’s AKC Gazette Columnist. He breeds Irish Water Spaniels under the Quiet Storm prefix and has judged the IWSCA National Specialty Sweepstakes twice. Dan is a member of the Morris and Essex Kennel Club as well as the Dog Writers Association of America, which recognized his illustrations in the award-winning canine compendium, the Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology.

Find a Breeder or Rescue

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin?

Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral Program, which is listed on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.

Find an American Water Spaniel Puppy
Find a Breeder or Rescue