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American Water Spaniel


Life span: 13-15 Years

Height: 38-46cm (Male); 38-46cm (Female)

Weight: 25-45 Pounds

This active breed is perfect for anyone that loves going outside, especially those who live around water. They are known to be the perfect family dog, although it may not like strangers as much, making it a good watchdog as well. Its stubborn personality can make it a tough dog to have sometimes, but they will give their family all the love they can!

Physical Characteristics

The American Water Spaniel has a curly or wavy overcoat with a thick undercoat, used to protect them from snow and water. The female is usually smaller than the male, although both have a body that is long and muscular. Its prominent nostrils are used for tracking scents and its legs are large to give them the ease of treading in bushy ground, with toes that are webbed due to its love of water. Its eyes can be hazel, brown or light brown, with a black or brown nose. Its coat can be black, brown or red.


Its exact origin is unknown, but it is believed it might be descendant of the English or Irish Water Spaniel. It is known to have been in the United States since the 18th century, where its proper record seems to begin. Used as a gun dog and hunter, it could retrieve its owner’s prey from any terrain through scent, making it the perfect match for any hunter. In 1881 a club was created for this breed, however, they eventually became unpopular for hunter, since these searched for more specific traits in their companions. Dr. F. J. Pfeifer decided to breed these dogs, saving them from going extinct. Thanks to him, in 1920 it was recognized by the United Kennel Club, by the Field Stud Book in 1938 and eventually by the American Kennel Club in 1940, with the first registered American Water Spaniel named Curly Pfeifer. In 1986 it became the state dog of Wisconsin, although nowadays it continues to be a rare dog, which also prevents it from being split into different breeds due to its ability in competitions and hunting alike.


Even though this is a family dog, it tends to have a stubborn personality. This means it needs an owner it respects as its leader, someone with a strong character who does not treat it harshly. When trained properly, they will become friendly and active, bonding the most with whom he identifies as its leader, but giving love to the rest of the family as well. They are not dogs who can be left alone for a long amount of time since they love to be with their family and is likely to bark if not given enough entertainment. It is recommended to get to know one of the puppies parents before purchasing or adopting the puppy in order to get an idea on the dog’s likely personality. They need a lot of socialization in its early stages in order to be a social dog when grown up, especially given its natural wariness of strangers. This can be achieved by taking it to dog parks, inviting friends over, or to meet neighbors!


Although generally healthy, these dogs tend to suffer from certain diseases, which are:

Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.

Cataracts, in which there is opacity on the eye’s lens that may lead to blindness.

Allergies that produce the same symptoms you see in humans, and depending on the cause, different treatments can be used.

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can produce seizures.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Pattern Baldness, a hereditary disease that causes balding and hair thinning in certain areas of the dog’s body, starting as early as when the puppy is six months old and with no known treatment.

Growth Hormone-Responsive Dermatitis, in which there is a lack of hormone growth, causing skin changes and hair loss, most commonly during puberty.


Given its dense coat, this breed needs weekly trimming with different brushes depending on the season. The recommended brushes are a pin brush during summer and a slick brush during the rest of the year. Their nails have to be trimmed regularly and it should only be bathed when needed due to its sensitive skin. They usually don’t do well in apartments due to their need for constant and daily exercise. If this is provided, however, they should have no problem living in one. They love participating in competitions and can be easy to train if the stubborness is handled, due to them wanting to please their owners.



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