American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel, AWS for short, is a happy and hard-working breed. They are, as their name might suggest, great in the water and were bred for hunting waterfowl. Their soft and thick fur is not only pleasing to touch, but keeps them dry and warm in the water.

These charming and vivacious dogs are excellent companions for hunters and families alike. Read on to learn more about the American Water Spaniel.

Description of the American Water Spaniel

These active dogs are compact and hardy. Bred in the Great Lakes region of the upper Midwest, they are true water dogs. With a thick and water resistant coat and webbed feet, they are strong swimmers and great hunters in the water.

Their spaniel blood means they are quite congenial, but also hard working and tough. Their round eyes are always expressive, alert, and warm. The American Water Spaniel has a broad skull and long floppy ears. His fur is wavy or curled, and is often a deep chocolaty brown, but can also be livered and have some white in it.

Life Expectancy and Size

The American Water Spaniel often lives a long and full life of 10 – 14 years. Working with a reputable breeder is a good first step in ensuring your dog lives a happy and healthy life.

Designed to be small enough to hop on and off boats without knocking them over, but still large enough to be rugged while on the hunt, the American Water Spaniel is a good medium -sized dog that is always up for whatever challenge lies ahead.

These dogs are quite small, technically a toy breed, standing 15 – 18 inches tall, the males weighing 30 – 45 pounds, and females weighing 25 – 40 pounds. Still, they are quite athletic and not as fragile as you may think. They generally stand between 12 and 13 inches tall, and weigh 13 – 18 pounds.

Protective Ability

These dogs are often vigilant watchdogs and tend to be aloof with strangers. But their mild manners and relaxed nature mean they aren’t the best-suited breed for being a guard dog. You can expect a watchful dog in your American Water Spaniel who can become fast friends with almost anyone he is introduced to.


The American Water Spaniel is smart, eager to learn, and energetic. All of these traits translate into a dog that loves to train and it good at it! Using positive and consistent training is the best way to find success with this breed.

Treats are also an important training aid for these dogs. The AWS loves to work hard and will be even more motivated when there is food on the table. Just be sure to not overfeed or your dog may become overweight.

Canine sports are another great option for the American Water Spaniel. This helps with training, releasing energy, and allows you to bond with your dog.

Energy Level

The American Water Spaniel is an energetic but even-keeled dog. They love to be playful, and are always up for a game of fetch or a nice long walk. But, once you tucker them out these dogs love to be close with their families. You can expect a great balance of a fun and playful side with a gentle and affectionate side. Be sure to give your dog plenty of companionship, as they do not do well if left alone and can start to bark or become destructive.

What Living with an American Water Spaniel is Like

This is an all around kind breed that loves to work and be affectionate with their families. Give your water spaniel a job, and he will always be happy. The AWS is a good choice for hunters and families alike. Just be sure that if you tend to be more sedentary you are still giving your American Water Spaniel plenty of daily exercise.

Care of the American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel can be quite adaptable, requiring only daily exercise and lots of companionship to be happy. And giving them a job never hurts! These dogs love to be useful.

Environmental Needs

While the thick and water-resistant coat of the American Water Spaniel is great in the water, they do better in warm weather on land. Limit time outside in the winter and consider providing them with a jacket when they go outside in cold weather.

Exercise Needs

Daily walks, backyard playtime, and canine sports are usually enough to tucker out these energetic and playful dogs. The American Water Spaniel loves to chase so keep them fenced in and on leash unless out hunting.

Shedding and Grooming

The AWS needs weekly brushing to keep his coat in order. These dogs shed more in the summer but still shed quite lightly. Bathing is only needed occasionally. Be sure to regularly check their ears and trim their nails to keep them as healthy as possible.

Ideal Home Environment

These dogs can be very adaptable. They love working and their families, and do well in homes where they can be given both. Ideal for hunters, the American Water Spaniel can also do well with his family if he has enough physical activity everyday.

The American Water Spaniel tends to be more aloof with strangers and other dogs. Early socialization can help with this. It is important to raise your dog with children or other dogs so that he is open and friendly with them. Always supervise interaction between children and your dog.

Health Concerns

The American Water Spaniel is an often healthy dog. The most common problems for this breed are hip dysplasia, eye disorders, cardiac abnormalities, and degenerative myelopathy. Working with a reputable breeder and giving your dog regular checkups can help keep him as healthy as possible

Behavior Problems

This breed can have major separation anxiety. The American Water Spaniel will turn to barking and destructive behaviors if left alone for to long. Be sure you can provide your dog with plenty of interaction

These dogs are also natural chasers. Keep them fenced in or on leash to make sure they don’t wander away in search of prey.