American Water Spaniel- The case of “Yankee ingenuity”

The American Water Spaniel is a Spaniel breed that originated from the USA.

This pooch is a skilled swimmer that over the years has specialized in waterfowls which are made better by their water-resistant coats.

He was developed in the Wisconsin State in the 19th century from several other breeds, that include the Irish and English Water Spaniels.

You can easily note a lot of similarities between this dog and other variations that are in the same family.

However, they are still different in temperament and other aspects that we are going to talk about as we go through this guide.

This is a trendy breed, but if you are looking to add him as the next member of your family, you need to have enough of his as a breed.

Doing research beforehand can help you know more about what you are about to get. That is why we, Mydogsinfo, prepared this guide just for you.

We are going to cover all the important aspects of this dog that any dog lover needs to know before purchasing or adopting a puppy.

So, why don’t we get through this together? 

About the American Water Spaniel dog(AWS)

The American Water Spaniel is a prolific hunter that can hunt rabbits, waterfowls, and even pheasants and at the same time be your companion.

Their webbed feet and water-resistant coats only seem to make them better at what they are already good at making them naturals.

They are confident and high-energy canines that can be timid and shy around people they do not know.

Over the years breeders have been trying to make this dog even-tempered. In the process, they made him even suitable for apartment life but you still need to understand and meet his needs.

He may not be as popular as other water dogs or retrievers but he can still make a pawfect addition for you.

So, where did this cheery, smart, and enthusiastic doggo come from?

History and origin of the AWS

The creation and development of the American Water Spaniel is a perfect example of “Yankee ingenuity.” This is where old things are used to solve the problems of the new world.

European settlers who came to Minnesota and Wisconsin depended on waterfowls for sustenance. They needed a dog that would help them hunt in the Great Lakes and so they worked for years developing a whole new breed from already existing ones.

How exactly they managed to do will probably remain a mystery to us, at least for now.

However, it is believed that the now extinct English Water Spaniel, the Irish Spaniel, and the Curly-coated Retrievers were involved in the creation of the breed.

Throughout history, the names of the breeders that pulled this off were lost. But it is these frontiersmen that were being the creation of this all-in-one and adorable doggo.

However, over the years the population of this breed dwindled for two reasons;

People slowly stop relying on hunting as a means to get food and it became more of recreational activity.

There was a decrease in the duck population.

It is estimated that there are about 3000 American Water Spaniels in existence by the American Water Spaniel Club.

To his enthusiast and admirers, the AWS is a seal or at least he swims like a seal. He can jump out of a canoe of a skiff without even rocking it.

These canines friends are also good at hunting game birds like quails and grouse and other small animals like rabbits.

Brown water Spaniel

Dog breed recognition

The American Kennel Club recognized this dog in 1940 and was named the state dog os Wisconsin the year 1985.

In the UK, the United Kennel Club also recognized the dog in 1920.

Pros and cons of the Water Spaniel dog


He is eager to please and highly affectionate.

 These dogs are super intelligent which makes them very trainable.

Active families and individuals will enjoy having this dog around because he loves to be outdoors.


 This dog breed can be very vocal and destructive if he is left alone for long periods.

 These canines are not suited for sedentary homes.

 Water Spaniels can have a stubborn streak which can make training challenging.

General Characteristics and appearance of the American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel summary table
Height  Females stand between 15–18 inches while males 15–18 inches
Weight  Females range between 25–40 pounds while males weigh between 30–45 pounds
Lifespan 13 – 15 years
Breed Type Hunting
Purpose Companion and hunting dog
Suitable For Active individuals and families
Grooming requirements moderate
Color Variations Dark chocolate, liver, brown
Health concerns Hypothyroidism, Epilepsy, and progressive retinal atrophy
Temperament Obedient, Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly, Trainable, Protective
Other names Brown Water Spaniel

Size of the Brown Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniels are medium-sized dogs that can have a height of anywhere between 15–18 inches for both males and females.

However, males weigh slightly more than their female counterparts, weighing between 30 to 45 pounds while females weigh between 25 to 40 pounds.

Physical appearance

Beneath the thick and curly coat of an American Water Spaniel is an agile and muscular body.

These dogs have stocky bodies and powerful hips with webbed feet that have thick pads.

They have long and drooping ears with heads that are proportional to the rest of their bodies. However, they are still relatively small.

They have adorable slightly rounded eyes with a variety of colors, that can either be amber, brown, or even hazel.


American Water Spaniel coat appearance and shedding

Brown Water Spaniels have dense and curly double coats that have uniform waves also known as a “marcel.”

These coats can also have tights curls and are water-proof which also helps to protect him from the cold.

The coat colors can include the following;

Chocolate Brown Liver

Some AWS can have a yellow coat but this is not an accepted coat color according to the breed standards.

Like any other Retriever dog, the Brown Water Spaniel sheds mainly because of the double coat that helps to protect him from the elements.

With some moderate grooming, you can reduce the shedding especially during the heavy shedding seasons of Fall and Spring.

Is the American Water Spaniel a Retriever?

A retriever is a gun dog type that helps in the retrieval of hunted games.

There are three types of gun dog;

  • Spaniels
  • Retrievers
  • Pointing dog breeds

However, the Brown Water Spaniel can be classified as either a Spaniel or a Retriever depending on the classification made by the American Water Spaniel Club of America.

Some people also confuse the Irish Water Spaniel with the American one but they have several differences. The summary table below will help in a better understanding of the differences between the two.

Irish Water Spaniel Vs American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel Irish Water Spaniel
height 15 to 18 inches 21 to 24 inches
weight 30 to 45 pounds for males and 25 to 40 pounds for females 55 to 68 pounds for males and 45 to 58 pounds for females
purpose Bred to retrieve and hunt game Bred to retrieve and hunt game
breed type Hunting Hunting
suitable for Active individuals and families Active Individuals and families
color Brown, liver, and chocolate Brown
grooming Medium grooming requirements High grooming requirements
Lifespan 13 – 15 years 12-13 years
Temperaments Obedient, Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly, Trainable, Protective and eager to please Alert, hardworking, brave, intelligent, eager to please, trainable and clownish
Exercise requirements High exercise requirements(60 minutes) High exercise requirements(upwards of 60 minutes)
Feeding requirements 20 calories for every pound they weigh 20 calories for every pound they weigh
Origin United States 🇺🇸 Ireland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁮󠁩󠁲󠁿
Health issues Hypothyroidism, Epilepsy, and progressive retinal atrophy Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism and Entropion
An Irish Water Spaniel
An Irish Water Spaniel

AWS Temperament and personality traits

Generally, the Brown Water Dog is a friendly, lively, obedient, and alert.

This dog thrives on human affection and can easily suffer from anxiety if left alone for long periods. Sometimes he can also become destructive as he looks for something to keep him busy.

He tends to be a one-person-dog but also loves adores the rest of the family. If you give him attention and feed him most of the time, you are likely to become his favorite, and you will have a powerful bond with him.

However, he is happiest when he is given a task that he can carry out.

American Water Spaniels can be timid and even shy around strangers especially if they have not been well-socialized.

When you train and socialize an AWS properly, you will find him to be very welcoming and friendly even to people he does not know.

They also tend to bark a lot, especially when they are feeling bored and alone. But you can always reduce the amount of barking through training him well and making sure that he is both physically and mentally stimulated.

If you live in an apartment this might just be the right dog breed for you as long as you meet his exercise quota.

Family compatibility

The American Water Spaniel is a great family dog but as we have mentioned above there is always that one person he is closest to.

He has a gentle demeanor even around children and is very playful with them.

But like with any other dog, small children should always be taught what to do and what not to do around dogs. You should also supervise any interaction that this pooch has with children.

AWS is great with animals that he has been brought up with but some can also be territorial and even aggressive to strange dogs. That is why early socialization is key.


Frequently asked questions

Which is the Winsconsin’s state dog?

The American Water Spaniel is the state dog for Wisconsin State where he originated.

Does the American Water Spaniel shed? 

The Brown Waterdog sheds moderately throughout the year with 2 major shedding seasons of Fall and Spring. However, frequently brushing the marcel coat can greatly reduce the amount of shedding.

What is the lifespan of the American Water Spaniel? 

AWSs live for about 13 to 15 years depending on how healthy he is.

Brown Water Spaniel puppies

An American Water Spaniel dam can have a litter of anywhere from 4 to 6 puppies.

These puppies take about 18 months to reach full maturity and size.

The chart below will help you better understand the growth of an American Water Spaniel Puppy;

Age Male Weight (pounds) Female Weight (pounds)
3 months 9 8
6 months 18 16
12 months 29 27
18 months 45 40

To get one of these puppies you may have to pay anywhere between $1000 to $ 1500 for a single puppy.

The price of an American Water Spaniel puppy can vary depending on;

  • The area you live in
  • The dog’s coat color
  • The breeder’s stock and pedigree

There are not so many breeders that breed Brown Water Spaniel and you have to make sure that you get a highly reputable and responsible breeder.

You can also check some rescue and dog shelters to see if you are lucky enough t get one of these dogs.

A super adorable American Water Spaniel
A super adorable American Water Spaniel

Grooming an American Water Spaniel dog

The coat of an AWS should be groomed weekly to keep him in the best condition and keep his great looks.

You should brush the coat 3 times a week to remove mats and tangles which will also allow the distribution of oils which keep the coat shiny.

Weekly brushing also gets rid of any loose fur reducing shedding to a great extent. A slicker brush can be used to get to the undercoat.

Bath the American Water Spaniel only when it is necessary.

Some people also prefer to keep the coat short to make it more manageable and easier to remove burrs.

You should check and clean the drooping ears which help to reduce the risk of ear infections. A cotton bud that has been dipped in an ear cleaner(should be vet recommended) be used to clean the ears.

The nails should be trimmed when they start getting and once they start clicking on the floor they are getting long.

Dental hygiene is also very important as it helps reduce the build-up of bacteria and tartar to reduce the risk of periodontal diseases.

Exercise needs of a Brown Water Spaniel

This is an energetic dog but his exercise needs are not too high.

About 60 minutes of physical stimulation daily should meet his daily exercise quota. This can be divided between daily walks, play sessions and even going for hikes.

If you have a yard where he can play and explore that would be a bonus as long as it is well-fenced.

It would also be brilliant if you involved them in other activities such as agility training, some competitive sports while expanding what your dog is capable of.

Failure to meet the physical and mental stimulation needs of this dog can be a recipe for disaster. This increases his chances of becoming destructive.


American Waterdog Dietary and nutritional requirements

This is an active dog that needs a diet that can keep up with his high energy.

And just like people, these dogs can not be fed on the same amount of food because some eat more than others depending on;

  • The sex of the dog.
  • Age of the pooch
  • Activity level
  • Metabolism

However, on average they need around 20 calories for every pound that they weigh.

If we take the average weight of an American Water Spaniel as 30 pounds, this will be about 600 calories which 2 cups of dry food.

American Water Spaniel Daily Food Consumption
Calories 600-800
Cups of Kibble 🍗🍗

Check the label of the food you buy to check the ingredients and the number of calories. You should avoid avoids foods that have fillers which can upset the dog’s stomach.

The main ingredients should be meat and the meal should be high on proteins. You can also supplement the dog by giving him fruits and vegetables that are safe for him to consume.

AWS training

American Water Spaniels are eager to please and intelligent and highly trainable dogs. However, some can have a stubborn streak that can make them more difficult to train, but if you do it correctly, it should be easier for you.

Reward-based training and positive reinforcement are what this dog responds best to.

These dogs have a short concentration span and for that reason, you should come up with creative ways to keep him interested in what you are teaching him.

You can do this by keeping the training sessions shorts and by using rewards tha he values the most. It can either be the toy he loves the most or some tasty treats.

Find a place that has minimal direction where it is best to train him.


Health problems

These dogs are generally very healthy but they are also prone to some health issues.

That is why you need to make sure that you are getting your AWS puppy from a reputable and highly responsible breeder that has all the health clearances of the parents, especially the mother.

Below are some of the common health complications that can occur in an American Water Spaniel;

  • Eye problems such as degenerative Retinal Atrophy
  • Hypothyroidism is caused by a deficiency in hormone production.
  • Epilepsy is a non-curable dog disorder that causes them to have seizures but can be treated through medication.

American Water Spaniel interesting facts

These dogs were developed to retrieve game from boats and they can be trained further to make them even better at this.

American Water Spaniels love bananas for reasons that are not known to anyone and this can be a great treat for this pooch. The good thing is that bananas are low-calorie and can be great to prevent your dog from getting overweight.

Brown Water Spaniels were bred to be prolific game hunters and are very water-oriented.

In the 20th century, these dogs almost went extinct because people stopped depending on hunting for sustenance

The first American Water Spaniel that was registered was called Curly Pfeifer in 1940.

In 1986, the Wisconsin State recognized this canine as their state dog which is where he was originally bred.

Breed summary

The American Water Spaniel is a high-energy that was bred to be a great hunter and a retriever and he loves swimming and water in general.

They may not be that well-known but if you understand and care for him he will make a great addition to your family.

You should make sure that you give them the chance to do what they love and that is swimming, playing with you and other physical activities that he is happy doing.

So was this dog breed guide helpful to you?

You can share your thoughts and feedback in the comment section below.

There you go, WOOF!

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