American Water Spaniel Dog Breed Guide | Gundog Journal
American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel

Main sporting role:
Retrieving, Hunting, Flushing
Over 10 years
1 to 2 hours a day
Coat length:
Medium (non-shedding)
Vulnerable status:

The American Water Spaniel was developed in the early 19th century in Wisconsin from other breeds, including the Irish Water Spaniel and English Water Spaniel. The American breed was developed as a versatile hunter on land and in water, as it’s small enough to retrieve ducks from skiffs, and it’s well-adapted to working in cold and icy conditions.

Although it’s the state dog of Wisconsin, this dog breed is little known elsewhere. In the UK, it’s an ideal gundog for rough shooting, wildfowling, and beating or picking up at shoots. This breed also excels at agility and flyball.

American Water Spaniel: Key Characteristics

All water spaniels share some characteristics, with the American Water Spaniel a light, compact breed, with a broad skull, square muzzle, long ears, and an oily, curly coat in various shades of brown. 

This coveted working dog breed isn’t quite as exuberant as the cocker spaniel, but it still works closely with its handler and is skilled in retrieving. This dog was bred to be active and energetic on the field but even-tempered at home, making it an excellent family pet.

Owning An American Water Spaniel: Pros And Cons

Pros Of Owning This Breed

  • The American Water Spaniel temperament is extremely friendly - it’s good with both children and other dogs
  • Relatively easy to train
  • Sheds moderately, making it relatively easy to groom
  • Highly intelligent nature
  • Very playful dog breed
  • Naturally eager to hunt
  • Generally hardy and healthy
  • Relatively long life span of 12-15 years on average

Cons Of Owning This Breed

  • Extremely energetic - requires a lot of daily exercise
  • Can have a stubborn nature
  • Can be prone to whining
  • Has a tendency to wander and be easily distracted, which may pose some challenges during training
  • Can be wary of strangers, so early socialisation is essential

Grooming Advice

From brushing their coats to stay on top of shedding to dental and ear care, here are our top tips for grooming and caring for this dog breed:

  • American Water Spaniel shedding isn’t quite as bad as for other breeds, but you should still brush their coats at least once a week to remove any debris, keep them in the best possible condition, and stay on top of any shedding
  • Bathe your dog just a few times a year, or when absolutely necessary
  • Brush your dog’s teeth twice a week to help keep them in good condition
  • Clean out your spaniel’s ears once a week to help prevent infection setting in

Discover more spaniel gundog breeds here.


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