American Water Spaniels


American Water Spaniels

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Breed Notes

The exact ancestry of the American Water Spaniel is unknown although it is believed that the Irish Water Spaniel, the Curly-Coated Retriever and the English Water Spaniel are included. Originally he was called the Brown Water Spaniel. He is an excellent hunting dog that springs game rather than pointing it. He is an effective retriever in water as well as in rough ground and thickets. He is used to hunt grouse, quail, chickens, pheasants, ducks, rabbits, mink and muskrat. Primarily developed in Wisconsin during the 1800s, he is primarily known in the Midwestern and New England regions. He was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1940.
The American Water Spaniel is intelligent, eager to please and friendly. He is and efficient watchdog who fits agreeably well into a family situation.
The American Water Spaniel's skull is broad and full. There is a moderate drop off (stop) between the skull and muzzle. The eyes are medium sized, slightly rounded and set well apart. The expression is alert, self confident, and intelligent. The ears are set slightly above the level of the eye and are lobular and long. They are covered with long curly coat hair. The muzzle is of moderate length and square. The nose is dark in color and the bite is level or scissors. The neck is of medium length, strong and muscular. The chest is deep, reaching to the elbow. The topline is level or may have a slight, straight slope from withers to croup. The legs are medium in length and straight. The toes are webbed and well padded. The tail is tapered and covered with a moderate feathering of hair. The coat is a double coat with sufficient density of undercoat to protect the dog from weather, water and punishing cover. It must not be too coarse or too soft. The outer coat can range from being wavy to curly. The coat color may be solid liver, brown or dark chocolate. Average height is fifteen to eighteen inches and average weight is between twenty five and forty pounds.


bahrc@yahoo.com of Michigan writes:

Words cannot do justice ...
My parents owned (owned is not an approiate word as they are part of the family) one and I was given one of her pups when we had her bred. I cannot say enough good things about the breed, the other reviews hit on many of them. I have never seen a dog with so much personality, though my dog was a pup of my parents, they had distinctly different personalities. The traits that they share are their drive to please under any situation, they are very protective, very affectionate, extremely intelligent, they are at home in the water as well as in the field (upland or wetland), as well as many others I don't have the room to explain.
I hate to have to explain the downside of the AWS but I believe that perspective owners need to be well-informed; yet this info should not be a reason to pass up this wonderful breed. Because of their type of coat they require regular grooming to prevent matting, if they get wet the inside of their ears do not dry well and can cause inner ear infections (we learned the hard way), because they are very intelligent they are also sneaky and need to be monitored (mine had a hobby of getting out of the kennel and ended up at animal control four times). As for sporting they sometimes have trouble retrieving large Canadian geese on dry land yet they will not give up until they get it back to you or you go get it. Most of all they require lots of love and attention. With all of their faults they are well worth it and I would not own any other dog.


jordanevans@mn.mediaone.net of S. St. Paul, MN writes on 2/5/00:

The only breed I will ever own.
I have had three Water Spaniels now and they have become to me the only breed I will ever own. They are typically "American" in character. Tough, loyal, independent and stubborn. How do these characteristics benefit the dog's owner? I have never seen a dog able and willing to work as hard as these dogs and they do not quit regardless of the situation. They bond to one person or one family and although friendly they are not effusive, and only when properly introduced. They will certainly let you know there is a stranger at the door. They have confidence and hunt with strong desire, without the need for a lot of direction. They work with you. They are so smart that if not careful they'll learn bad habits as easily as good ones if the dog is allowed to repeat the unwanted behavior.
Their curly chocolate brown coat is the handsomest I've ever seen. When the sun shines through the coat as my dogs frolic in the snow, their coat gleams. The dogs are small enough to pick up easily and they sleep in the bed with my wife and I. They ride on the front seat of the pick-up with me and cry like babies if I go inside a store without them.
I use them to hunt ducks and geese, pheasant, grouse, hungarian partridge, quail, rabbits, and squirrels. They usually bark when on fur, but not on winged game. They are tenacious and have caught and killed both rabbits, squirrels and unfortunately a few skunks. They sometimes jump deer by accident but I can call them off even when they see the deer.
One of my dogs is even a show champion and we've done obedience work with all of them. I think for the average dog handler this breed will be easier to develop than most other spaniel and retriever breeds as an upland flusher and retriever. My wife and I judge AKC spaniel tests, so we are quite familiar with a variety of dog breeds. I also have judged pointers and retrievers in hunting tests as well.
I think one of the best things about the breed is the fact that it is an all-American. Because it is a rarer breed today, it says alot about the owner. The owners of the American Water Spaniels that I know are a lot like their dogs. Confident, loyal, tough and stubborn. We have to be since there are not a million of us. If you are the same, I think this breed will more than satisfy you.


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