The American water spaniel was developed in the early 1800s in Wisconsin as a versatile hunter on land and in water, small enough to retrieve ducks from skiffs and well-adapted to cold and icy conditions.
This dog shares traits with the Irish water spaniel but is lighter and more compact, with a broad skull, square muzzle, long ears and an oily curly coat in shades of brown. Less exuberant than the cocker, it works closely with its handler and is a skilled retriever. It was bred to be active and energetic on the field but even-tempered in the home, making it an excellent family pet. Naturally wary of strangers and with a stubborn streak, early socialisation and varied training are a must.
The American water spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin, but little known elsewhere. In the UK it is ideal for rough shooting, wildfowling and beating or picking up at shoots. The breed also excels at agility and flyball.