Choosing an American Water Spaniel

The American water spaniel is an American made dog developed to retrieve duck in swampy areas. The state dog of Wisconsin, this spaniel was more popular among Midwestern hunters in the 1920s and 1930s and now has a small but loyal following.

History and Origin

The American water spaniel originated in the United States in the mid 1800s primarily to retrieve in the water from boats. The history of the breed's development is uncertain but it is felt that the breed was developed in Wisconsin by crossing the English water spaniel, Irish water spaniel and curly coated retriever. Hunters wanted a dog that could retrieve on land and in the water and in the 1920s and 1930s the American water spaniel reached his peak of popularity. The breed is typically used to hunt quail, duck, pheasant and rabbit.

In 1940, the American water spaniel was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The American water spaniel is a medium sized dog with a broad head and square muzzle. The ears are long and covered with curly ringlets. The tail is feathered and curves upwards slightly. The distinctive coat of the American water spaniel can be curly or wavy and can vary from dog to dog. The coat color can be liver, brown or dark chocolate.

The adult American water spaniel stands around 15 to 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 25 to 45 pounds.


The American water spaniel is an intelligent and vibrant dog. He is very enthusiastic about retrieving, particularly in the water. A good guard dog and family companion, the American water spaniel is friendly and obedient but he needs early socialization to reduce the risk of nervousness and snapping.

Home and Family Relations

The American water spaniel is a devoted and loving dog and can do well in a family setting with older children but some tend to be more attached to one member of the family. This breed can be hesitant around strangers and some make good watch dogs.

The American water spaniel prefers to live in the country or an area with lots of space to exercise but can do well in an apartment if taken on frequent long walks. They love to retrieve and to swim. This breed can do well with other pets if raised with them but some tend to be aggressive toward other dogs.


The American water spaniel is very intelligent and easy to train but some can be stubborn. They are naturally excellent swimmers. A sensitive breed, positive reinforcement and lots of patience and praise work best.

Special Concerns

The coat of the American water spaniel is oil and needs to be brushed at least twice a week. Despite the strong smell from the oily coat, frequent bathing can result in dry skin. This dog should not be allowed off leash since he tends to roam.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The American water spaniel is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. The most common are skin allergies, ear infections and Cataracts.

Life Span

The average life span of the American water spaniel is approximately 12 to 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.