By Avatar photoShiloh Nevada Last updated: 14th January 2023

American Water Spaniel


Avatar photo Shiloh Nevada
Last updated: 14th January 2023

The American Water Spaniel, as the name suggests, is a breed of water spaniels that developed in the United States most probably during the period of colonization. They have an average stature, with their entire body covered with curly hair in different shades of brown. They have a roundish skull with an elongated muzzle protruding out of it, ending in a dark brown nose. Other characteristics include low hanging ears, brown eyes, and a straight tail covered with wrinkled hair. Previously known as hardcore hunter dogs, used for retrieving prey from both land and water, these purely-bred, beautiful, adorable breeds could successfully endear themselves as house pets in the long run.

American Water Spaniel Pictures

Quick Description

Also known asAmerican Brown Spaniel, American Brown Water Spaniel
Coat CharacteristicsSolid-colored, Dense, Double, Curly
ColorsBrown, Coffee, Chocolate, Tan, Liver
TypeSporting Dog (AKC), Hunting Dog, Working Dog, Gundog, Companion Dog, Terrier Dog, Watchdog
Life Span/Expectancy10-12 years
Height (Size)Medium; 15-18 inches (both adult male and female)
WeightMale: 30-45 pounds;
Female: 25-40 pounds
Personality TraitsBrave, Loyal, Independent, Loving, Playful, Active
Good with ChildrenYes
Compatible with New OwnersNo
Shedding/Hair LossMinimal
DroolingModerate (some individuals)
Weight Gain TendencyAverage
Climatic CompatibilityMedium heat and cold tolerance
Litter Size8 puppies/litter (average)
Country of OriginUSA
Competitive RegistrationACA, ACR, AKC, AWSC, APRI, CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), CKC (Continental Kennel Club), DRA, FCI, NAPR, NKC, UKC
Qualification InformationBreed Standards
Clubs and OrganizationsThe American Water Spaniel Club

Video: American Brown Water Spaniel Puppies Playing

History and Development

The specific history and origination of the American Water Spaniel are still unknown. However, considering its looks and features, it is widely believed that they have some genetic connection with the English water spaniel that was once brought to the US. Though the latter is already an extinct breed, its description seems like associated to its American counterpart.

The early European settlers who colonized in America brought the English water spaniels with them believing that, their hunter pets would not merely be able to find food for themselves, but also gather the same for their families.

By the end of the 19th century, it eventually became an established breed, also being in Wisconsin. The reason is that these hardy, brown spaniels, not merely made good companions, but were adapted to carry on with retrieving work under any situation. At the same time, they have a comfortable size so as to fit into small boats.

In 1881, a breed club formed for the very first time. Unfortunately, these canines soon began to fade into the background after the contemporary huntsmen started searching for a more specialized canine companion in place of these small-sized, versatile pets. Such a situation nearly resulted in the extinction of the breed eventually.

In 1920, however, this scenario luckily started to change again, when one Fred J. Pfeiffer, a master breeder, took it to the United Kennel Club to get it recognized. Pfeiffer also took the initiative to get the recognition of the American Kennel Club in 1940. These steps, taken by the celebrated breeder, inspired many other admirers of the breed and initiated them to come forward for a common cause. The result of this unified effort was a success, helping the breed from getting nonextant forever.

Temperament and Behavior

The American Water Spaniels are intelligent, loyal and affectionate, but mostly one-man dogs, bonding extremely well with the person they love. They are possessive about their territory (owner’s property) and are natural guard dogs as well. However, they have enough adaptability to mingle well with other members of the family, thus emerging as great companion dogs.

Known for their agility in retrieving (especially gunshot ducks), this is an active breed, and also does well with children, except for some lines that still retain their dominating and aggressive demeanor. They are friendly with other pets too. However, they might be shy towards other dogs. The breed has a natural fascination for water.

The AWS enjoys attention, and might often whine if they do not get that enough. They can at times show independent or stubborn disposition or even food jealousy. As hunting dogs, they are alert and make excellent watchdogs as well. Some individuals can end up being vocal if not properly trained.



Countryside houses that have enclosed yards suit best for these dogs. The American Water Spaniels need vigorous exercises every day for at least 2 hours. They would enjoy daily jogging sessions and retrieving games like Frisbee. Since they love water, swimming is a good idea, either in a pool or at the beach.


They have a double coat. The outer coat is curly and is also oily, and need usual care. Brush them twice or thrice a week. You might also want to clip from their feet and topknot. Since they have a habit of entering the water, their loosely-hanging ears might hold moisture (taking the time to dry), leading to ear infections/allergies. Check the ears regularly.

Health Problems

American Water Spaniels have no major health concerns or any frequently common diseases. However, minor problems include issues like lenticular opacities and CHD. Occasionally, some individuals might suffer from PRS or patellar luxation. Also, hip, ear and eye tests from time to time are recommended.


Known for their excellent trainability, the AWS can briskly pick up all that you can teach. They especially excel in such training sessions that have some variety, rather than daily ‘monotonous’ routines.

  • To keep its dominant nature in control give your puppy obedience training when it is about to 2 to 3 months of age. While teaching it a host of commands like “sit,” “come” and ” stop,” make sure to reward it when it follows the same.
  • Your AWS has a tendency to be possessive of food. For this, it must learn that it’s the pack leader who eats first. Never feed your dog while its human family members are eating. Finish your meal first, and then feed your dog. Begin practice from the prime of its life. Additionally, you should also win your dog’s trust on you, when you are around its food bowl. Begin with feeding your puppy by your hands from its bowl, so that it can relate its food bowl with the scent of your hand. Drop a treat in its bowl while it is eating. This practice would give your dog the idea that humans coming near its bowl are not bad.
  • To avoid any stubbornness resulting from monotony, be sure you make training a habit since its puppy days, with variations in your method. Avoid punishment, since this would only increase training anxiety in your dog, and would eventually lead to obstinacy.
  • Your dog has a tendency to roam. Thus leash training is crucial. Get it accustomed to the leash right from childhood to make sure it accepts the leash comfortably especially when these dogs are outdoors.


Divide 2½ to 3½ cups of dry high-energy kibbles into equal portions for their daily meals.

Interesting Facts

  • The American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin.
  • This breed has been ranked 143rd among the dog breeds registered by the American Kennel Club.
  • Before getting recognized by the AKC, these dogs had been purely a working gun dog.
  • In 1993, the American Water Spaniel received the Flyball Championship title.

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