American Water Spaniel

Table of Contents

The American Water Spaniel, a versatile and skilled breed, is renowned for its proficiency in hunting and retrieving, particularly in water environments. Originating in the United States, this breed is well-adapted for hunting both waterfowl and upland game, showcasing a unique combination of agility and endurance. They possess a medium-sized, muscular build, and are notable for their curly or wavy waterproof coat, which comes in various shades of brown, from liver to chocolate.

These spaniels are characterized by their keen intelligence and eager-to-please nature, making them highly trainable and responsive to commands. With their soft, expressive eyes and an alert expression, they are as amiable as they are attentive. They thrive on human companionship and form strong bonds with their families, displaying a friendly and gentle demeanor.

The American Water Spaniel’s moderate size and adaptable nature make them suitable for a variety of living situations, although they do best with access to open spaces where they can exercise. Regular physical and mental stimulation is essential for this breed, as they are energetic and inquisitive by nature. They excel in various canine sports and activities, including agility, obedience, and, of course, water-based activities.

As a breed, they are generally healthy but require regular grooming to maintain their distinctive coat. Regular brushing and occasional trimming help manage shedding and prevent matting. Their love for water and outdoor activities means they also need regular ear checks to prevent infections.

Moreover, the American Water Spaniel is a loyal, intelligent, and versatile companion, well-suited for active families and individuals who enjoy outdoor activities, especially those involving water. Their friendly disposition and trainable nature also make them a delightful addition to any home.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 15 years


Extr Small

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The American Water Spaniel is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and hunters, excelling in water-based activities and hunting due to their agility and strong retrieving skills. They fit well with active families, offering affection and adaptability to various home settings. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them great for dog sports and potential therapy or service roles. Suitable for both rural and suburban homes, they thrive with access to outdoor spaces and require regular exercise and engagement.

American Water Spaniel Traits

Breed Characteristics

The American Water Spaniel, a medium-sized breed distinguished by its curly, water-resistant coat in liver or chocolate hues, stands out for its agility and enthusiasm, particularly in water-based activities. This intelligent and trainable breed, originally developed for hunting in the American Midwest, exhibits a strong bond with humans, marked by a friendly and cooperative nature. Renowned for their versatility in both water retrieval and hunting, these spaniels are perfect for active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles. Their adaptability and moderate size also make them well-suited to a variety of living situations, from rural homes to suburban settings.

Here are the qualities you can expect when raising an American Water Spaniel, rated on a scale of 1 star (low) to 5 stars (high). These attributes have been evaluated by several pet experts, including dog trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists. It’s important to remember that dogs are individuals, and not all American Water Spaniels, even within the same breed, will conform exactly to these ratings.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Characteristics

The American Water Spaniel, a versatile and skilled hunting dog, is medium-sized and muscular with a distinctive curly, water-resistant coat, primarily in liver or chocolate shades. This breed is known for its agility in water and land activities, characterized by expressive eyes and long, floppy ears, embodying both strength and adaptability.

1. Ears
They have long, lobular ears that hang close to the cheeks, contributing to their keen sense of hearing.
2. Eyes
Their eyes are almond-shaped, medium-sized, and typically dark brown, expressing intelligence and alertness.
3. Nose
The nose is usually liver-colored, complementing their coat, and is well-developed for scenting.
4. Height
Typically, they stand about 15 to 18 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat
Their coat is one of their most notable features, being dense, curly to wavy, and water-resistant, providing protection during water retrieval activities.
6. Coat Color
The coat color varies from liver, brown, to chocolate, often with a slightly lighter hue on the underside.
7. Tail
 The tail is moderate in length, carried slightly above the line of the back, and typically in motion when the dog is active.
8. Weight
Their weight ranges from approximately 25 to 45 pounds, with a sturdy and well-proportioned build.

American Water Spaniel Temperament

The American Water Spaniel, a breed as affable as it is energetic, showcases a temperament that reflects its dual role as a skilled hunting companion and a devoted family pet. Renowned for their intelligence and eagerness to please, these dogs exhibit a remarkable capacity for training, responding well to both obedience and skill-based activities. Their alertness and keen senses make them excellent at waterfowl retrieval and upland game hunting, where they demonstrate both perseverance and agility.

In a family setting, the American Water Spaniel reveals a friendly and affectionate side, often forming strong, loyal bonds with their owners. They thrive on interaction and involvement in family activities, displaying a sociable and gentle demeanor. This breed’s adaptable nature allows it to fit well into various household environments, provided they receive enough mental and physical stimulation.

However, their hunting heritage does instill a certain level of independence and determination, which requires patient, consistent training from an early age. They can be reserved around strangers, making early socialization crucial to develop a well-rounded character.

The American Water Spaniel’s energy and playfulness make them a delightful companion for active individuals or families. They balance their athletic abilities with a loving nature, making them as suited for a day in the field as they are for a cozy evening at home. Their versatility and affable temperament make them a unique and cherished breed among dog enthusiasts.

How to Care for a American Water Spaniel

Caring for an American Water Spaniel involves providing regular exercise tailored to their energetic nature, such as swimming and agility training. Regular grooming is essential to maintain their curly coat, along with consistent training and socialization to harness their intelligence and sociability. These dogs thrive on companionship and require an engaging, nurturing environment. Ensuring a balanced diet and routine veterinary check-ups are also crucial for their overall health and well-being.

Grooming an American Water Spaniel, a breed known for its distinctive curly coat, requires thorough and regular attention to maintain its health and appearance. Here’s an in-depth look at their grooming needs:

Coat Care

  • Brushing: Regular brushing, ideally several times a week, is necessary to prevent matting and tangling in their curly coat. Using a slicker brush or a comb helps to keep the coat smooth and free of debris.
  • Bathing: Bathe them every few months or as needed, using a dog-specific shampoo that caters to curly coats. Their coat’s natural oils help with water resistance, so it’s important not to overbathe them.

Nail Care

  • Trimming: Trim their nails regularly, about every 4-6 weeks, to prevent overgrowth and splitting, which can be painful and may lead to problems walking.
  • Paw Care: Check their paws for cracks, cuts, or debris, especially since they are active and often outdoors.

Ear Care

  • Cleaning: Clean their ears weekly to prevent infections, a common issue in dogs with floppy ears. Use a vet-approved ear cleaner and gently wipe the inside of the ear flap.
  • Inspection: Regularly check for signs of redness, bad odor, or discomfort in the ears.

Dental Care

  • Teeth Brushing: Brush their teeth several times a week with dog-specific toothpaste to prevent tartar buildup and maintain oral health.
  • Dental Chews: Provide dental chews to help reduce plaque and freshen their breath.

Skin and Coat Health

  • Regular Inspection: While grooming, inspect their skin for any signs of irritation, parasites, or abnormalities.
  • Healthy Diet: A nutritious diet contributes to a healthy coat and skin, so ensure they are eating a well-balanced diet.

Grooming Tools

  • A slicker brush or a comb suitable for curly coats.
  • Nail clippers or a grinder.
  • Canine toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Ear cleaning solution and cotton balls or pads.

Regular grooming not only keeps the American Water Spaniel looking good but also provides an opportunity to check for any health issues and build a bond with your dog. Being consistent with grooming practices ensures their comfort and well-being, reflecting their overall health and happiness.

Training an American Water Spaniel, a breed known for its intelligence and eagerness to please, requires a structured approach that combines positive reinforcement with their natural abilities. Starting training early is crucial, using consistent commands and incorporating plenty of socialization to develop a well-rounded dog. These spaniels respond well to rewards-based training methods, where treats, praise, and toys encourage good behavior, while avoiding negative punishment which can lead to fearfulness or stubbornness.

Their natural hunting instincts, especially retrieving and scent-tracking, can be harnessed in training exercises, making sessions both enjoyable and instinctually rewarding. Agility training is a great fit for their energetic and agile nature, providing both physical and mental stimulation. It’s also important to incorporate brain games and activities like puzzle toys and scent work to keep them mentally stimulated and prevent boredom.

Introducing distractions gradually during training sessions helps in distraction proofing, teaching them to stay focused amidst various stimuli. Regular, active training sessions, integrated into daily routines like walks or playtime, reinforce learning and keep them engaged. Training them to control their barking, a common trait in the breed, is also beneficial, especially in suburban or urban living environments.

Overall, training an American Water Spaniel is an ongoing and engaging process. Their adaptability, combined with a consistent and positive training approach, ensures they grow into well-behaved, obedient, and content companions, thriving in a variety of settings and activities.

Feeding an American Water Spaniel a well-balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for maintaining their health and supporting their active lifestyle. These energetic dogs require a diet rich in quality proteins to sustain their muscular build and high energy levels. Sources like lean meats, fish, and poultry are ideal. Including healthy fats in their diet, especially omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed, supports their energy needs and maintains the health of their waterproof coat.

Carbohydrates are also essential for providing sustained energy. Opt for complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, vegetables, and certain fruits. These not only offer energy but also aid in digestion and provide essential nutrients. The specific portion sizes and meal frequency should be tailored to their age, size, and activity level, ensuring they receive the right amount of calories without the risk of obesity.

Puppies, with their rapid growth and development, require a more calorie-dense diet compared to adults. Look for high-quality puppy formulas that cater to their nutritional needs. As they transition to adulthood, adjust their diet to maintain a healthy weight and energy level. Senior dogs may require fewer calories and may benefit from supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.

It’s also important to monitor their hydration, especially after exercise or in hot weather, ensuring they have constant access to fresh water. Be vigilant for signs of food allergies or sensitivities, which may require dietary adjustments or a switch to hypoallergenic or limited ingredient diets.

Supplements can be beneficial, depending on individual health needs. Consult with a veterinarian before adding supplements to their diet to ensure they are necessary and appropriate. Regularly scheduled vet check-ups can provide guidance on dietary adjustments and ensure the overall nutritional health of your American Water Spaniel.

Lastly, be mindful of toxic foods for dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, and xylitol, and keep them out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion. With the right diet and nutrition, American Water Spaniels can maintain their health, vitality, and readiness for all the adventures ahead.

Exercising an American Water Spaniel, a breed known for its high energy and enthusiasm, involves a variety of activities to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. These dogs excel in exercises that tap into their natural hunting and retrieving instincts, making them perfect candidates for activities like swimming, fetching, and hiking. Regular aerobic exercises such as jogging or brisk walking help maintain their cardiovascular health and cater to their stamina.

Interactive play sessions, including games like fetch and tug-of-war, provide both physical exercise and mental engagement. These activities also strengthen the bond between the dog and owner. Due to their affinity for water, incorporating swimming into their exercise routine is highly beneficial, offering a full-body workout and a chance to indulge in their natural love for water.

Agility training is another excellent way to engage an American Water Spaniel. It not only challenges their physical agility but also stimulates their mind, keeping them alert and focused. Training sessions that involve scent work or tracking exercises also capitalize on their strong sense of smell, providing mental stimulation and a sense of purpose.

For puppies, exercise should be less intense and involve short, frequent play sessions to protect their developing joints. As they mature, the intensity and duration of exercises can gradually increase. Senior dogs, on the other hand, may require gentler, less strenuous activities to maintain their mobility without overexertion.

It’s important to tailor the exercise to the individual dog’s health and energy levels, ensuring they are getting enough activity without overdoing it. Regular health checks can help determine the appropriate level of exercise, especially as the dog ages. Consistency in their exercise routine helps manage their energy levels, preventing boredom and potential destructive behaviors.

Hence, providing varied and consistent exercise routines for an American Water Spaniel is essential to their well-being. These routines should include a mix of physical activities and mental challenges, ensuring these active and intelligent dogs are well-rounded and content.

The ideal environment for an American Water Spaniel involves ample opportunities for exercise and water-based activities, making homes near bodies of water highly suitable. These energetic and intelligent dogs thrive with daily physical activities like swimming, long walks, and agility training.

A spacious yard is beneficial, but they adapt well to various living conditions provided they get enough exercise. Social interaction is key, as they are sociable and enjoy being part of family activities. Early socialization and consistent training are important for their well-being.

They adapt to different climates but need appropriate shelter and care in extreme weather. An active household that can provide mental stimulation, physical activity, and loving companionship suits the American Water Spaniel best.

American Water Spaniel Health

Maintaining the health of an American Water Spaniel, a generally robust and resilient breed, involves understanding their specific health predispositions and providing appropriate care. These dogs are known for their overall good health, but like all breeds, they have certain conditions to which they are predisposed.

Common Health Issues

  • Ear Infections: Due to their floppy ears, they are prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and monitoring are crucial to prevent issues.
  • Hip Dysplasia: As with many medium-sized breeds, hip dysplasia can be a concern. Monitoring their exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help mitigate this risk.
  • Eye Problems: They may be susceptible to eye conditions like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts. Regular eye exams are recommended.

Preventative Health Measures

  • Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Routine vet visits help in early detection and management of potential health issues.
  • Vaccinations and Parasite Control: Keeping up with vaccinations and routine treatments for parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms is essential for their health.

Diet and Nutrition

  • Balanced Diet: Feed them a well-balanced diet suited to their age, size, and activity level. Avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity, which can exacerbate joint problems.
  • Hydration: Ensuring constant access to fresh water is vital, especially after exercise or in hot weather.

Exercise and Weight Management

  • Regular Exercise: Daily physical activity is essential to maintain their health and prevent obesity.
  • Weight Monitoring: Regular checks and adjustments to their diet can help maintain a healthy weight.

Dental Care

  • Oral Hygiene: Routine dental care, including regular brushing and professional cleanings, is important to prevent periodontal diseases.

Grooming and Skin Care

  • Skin Checks: Regular grooming provides an opportunity to check for any skin issues, lumps, or parasites.
  • Coat Care: Routine brushing helps to keep their coat and skin healthy, reducing the risk of skin infections.

Special Care for Aging Dogs

  • Senior Dog Care: As they age, they may require changes in their diet and exercise regimen, along with more frequent veterinary check-ups to manage age-related health issues.

Mental Health

  • Mental Stimulation: Keeping their mind active with training, play, and enrichment activities is important for their overall well-being.

By understanding and addressing these health aspects, owners can ensure that their American Water Spaniel enjoys a healthy, active, and fulfilling life. Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, consistent exercise, and mental stimulation are key components in maintaining their health and happiness.

American Water Spaniel Breed Comparison and Consideration

When comparing the American Water Spaniel to other breeds, it’s essential to consider their unique characteristics and how they align with different lifestyles and environments. Here’s a comparison with some similar breeds:

American Water Spaniel vs. Labrador Retriever

  • Size and Build: The American Water Spaniel is smaller and more compact than the Labrador Retriever, making it more suited for smaller living spaces.
  • Coat: The American Water Spaniel has a curly, waterproof coat, while the Labrador has a short, dense coat.
  • Energy Levels: Both breeds are energetic and require regular exercise, but the American Water Spaniel may have slightly lower exercise needs compared to the highly active Labrador.

American Water Spaniel vs. Cocker Spaniel

  • Hunting Abilities: Both breeds have hunting instincts, but the American Water Spaniel is more specialized in water retrieval.
  • Temperament: The American Water Spaniel is generally more robust and independent compared to the often more sociable and gentle Cocker Spaniel.
  • Coat Maintenance: The American Water Spaniel’s curly coat requires more grooming compared to the Cocker Spaniel’s silky coat.

American Water Spaniel vs. Irish Water Spaniel

  • Size: The Irish Water Spaniel is typically larger than the American Water Spaniel.
  • Coat Type: Both breeds have water-resistant, curly coats, but the Irish Water Spaniel has a more distinctively curly coat.
  • Exercise Needs: Both breeds are energetic and skilled in water, but the Irish Water Spaniel may require more intensive exercise.

American Water Spaniel vs. Golden Retriever

  • Temperament: Both breeds are friendly and trainable, but the Golden Retriever is generally more outgoing and sociable.
  • Coat Care: The American Water Spaniel’s coat is shorter and curlier, requiring different grooming techniques compared to the Golden Retriever’s long, straight coat.
  • Size: The American Water Spaniel is smaller and more compact, making it a more versatile option for various living situations.

Considerations for Prospective Owners

  • Activity Level: Prospective owners should be prepared for the breed’s high energy and exercise requirements.
  • Living Space: While adaptable, they thrive in environments where they can access water and have space to exercise.
  • Training and Socialization: Early and consistent training, along with socialization, is important due to their hunting instincts and independent nature.
  • Family Compatibility: They are suitable for families, but interactions with small children and other pets should be supervised due to their hunting background.

In summary, when comparing the American Water Spaniel to other breeds, consider their specialized water retrieval skills, moderate exercise needs, and friendly but independent temperament. They are well-suited for active families or individuals who can provide an engaging lifestyle with access to outdoor activities, especially those involving water.


American Water Spaniels are known for being intelligent, eager to please, and friendly. They have a balanced temperament, being both active and gentle, making them suitable as both hunting dogs and family pets.

Yes, they generally do well with children and can be good with other pets if properly socialized from a young age. However, interactions should always be supervised, especially with smaller pets due to their hunting instincts.

While they can be a good choice, their high energy levels and need for regular exercise might be challenging for first-time owners. They thrive with owners who understand and can meet their physical and mental stimulation needs.

Yes, they love water and are natural swimmers. Activities involving water are highly beneficial and enjoyable for them.

Their coat provides some protection against the elements, but they should not be exposed to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods. In hot weather, ensure they have access to shade and water, and in cold weather, provide them with a warm shelter.

Yes, they are intelligent dogs and require regular mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Puzzle toys, training exercises, and interactive play are great ways to keep their minds active.

Top Takeaways

Affenpinschers are clever, entertaining pets who make great companion dogs. They are trusty, spunky little sidekicks for families without young kids, and these lionhearted dogs are eager to stick by your side, offer snuggles and make you laugh morning, noon and night.

Top American Water Spaniel Names

These are the top American Water Spaniel names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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