Cheeseheads love this rare breed: the American Water Spaniel is Wisconsin's state dog! They're faithful companions and talented retrievers — and as the name suggests, they're built for splashing and swimming. They're also avid hunters. Some have worked as therapy dogs.
Originally from the United States, this mid-sized, medium-energy breed can grow to between 25-45 pounds and lives an average of 10-14 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting, Swimming
Breed Group: Sporting
Average Lifespan: 10-14 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
Energy level A marathoner
Exercise needs 30-45 minutes per day
Playfullness and Games All day, every day
Attachment to People Give me some love when you get home, maybe we'll snuggle later
Behavior with Other Dogs Shy. I may prefer to be the only dog.
Behavior with Other Small Pets I may be ok, when socialized early and often
Behavior Toward Strangers I'm a single-family or person dog at heart
Trainability It's fun, but I may lose focus
Watchdog ability I know all that's going on, all the time
Protection ability I can be somewhat protective
Grooming needs Regular brushing, probably professional grooming
Cold tolerance I'll probably need a jacket in the cold
Heat tolerance A warm day can be fun, but not too hot please.
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS AN AMERICAN WATER SPANIEL'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
This chipper charmer loves playing outdoors with you. American Water Spaniels are family-friendly, intelligent, and somewhat affectionate. They can be shy with other dogs and standoffish with strangers, but they're reasonably friendly with other pets. The American Water Spaniel loves children and plays best with them while supervised.
WHAT IS AMERICAN WATER SPANIEL BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This hunting breed combines working characteristics of retrievers and spaniels — they're built to retrieve large waterfowl and eager to please you. Daily long walks should meet their exercise needs. You might also want to think about enrolling your American Water Spaniel in agility, tracking, or rally classes, which will satisfy both their exercise needs and their active minds.
It's important to keep them busy: American Water Spaniels are sometimes prone to barking and destructive behaviors if they don't get enough exercise. These dogs are highly vigilant and somewhat able to protect you and your home.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN AN AMERICAN WATER SPANIEL?
American Water Spaniels are people-pleasers, though they can be stubborn. They can also mature fairly slowly. Be gentle and consistent while you're training and use positive reinforcement. Start early to discourage food-guarding and socialize to avoid suspicion of new people and dogs.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO AMERICAN WATER SPANIELS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Their coats' winsome and water-resistant waves need frequent combings and brushings and regular grooming. Start with a comb to break up mats or tangles, or to remove outside debris from their curls. Use a pin brush with rubber tips on their summer coats; in winter months, slicker brushes will shake the undercoat loose. American Water Spaniels don't often need baths, but if yours has been swimming in saltwater or algae-filled ponds, you might want to rinse them in fresh water.
American Water Spaniels are infrequent shedders.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO AMERICAN WATER SPANIELS HAVE?
American Water Spaniels are basically healthy dogs. However, they can sometimes develop hip dysplasia, heart abnormalities, eye disorders, and progressive degeneration of their spinal cords.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE AMERICAN WATER SPANIELS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list American Water Spaniels among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind when considering an American Water Spaniel! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S AN AMERICAN WATER SPANIEL'S BEST DAY?
The day begins with a romp in the backyard and ends after a long tracking adventure through a new watery territory!
SHOULD I ADOPT AN AMERICAN WATER SPANIEL?
There may be fewer than three thousand American Water Spaniels in existence. If you're looking for a cheerful canine hunting partner, a buddy to splash through creeks and run through fields with—and if you can find one—this breed could be your perfect match. Canoers, kayakers, and other water-going folks will be particularly well-suited to this breed's companionship.
Have you decided that an American Water Spaniel is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.