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American Water Spaniel
The American Water Spaniel enjoys many unique aspects of its existence.  One of very few breeds developed in the US (around 5 presently), it also has the distinction of being a versatile breed.  In fact, it's versatility has led to issues within its followers as the AKC requires distinction, the lines formed on either side of the issue as to whether the AWS is a Spaniel or Retriever foremost.  To the true fancier of the breed, the fact that it is uniquely and equally talented at both doesn't help the question.  As such, two clubs exist for the custodianship of the breed.  The American Water Spaniel Club, recognized by the AKC and the American Water Spaniel Field Association, reviewing both will give you an excellent overview of an intelligent, HIGHLY active dog who's still happiest when working the field.
By Breed Name
By Breed Name
General Information
Group(s): SportingRetrieverSpaniel Height: 15-18 inches
Weight: 25-45 pounds Longevity: 12-15 years
Colors: liver Coat type: wave to light curls over the body, smooth over the face
Recognized Registries: AKC and others
Overall Appearance: Compact medium sized dog, just a bit smaller than most Retrievers and larger than most Land Spaniels, the American Water Spaniel is ideally designed for the work to which it was created. Very active and energetic, once trained it can stand up to demanding physical activity. It's coat is water repellent, protective and still picks up less debris than other coats.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: very high
General Nature: good but can be hyper
  with Children: good but again, hyper
  with other pets: very good
  with dogs: excellent
Socialization requirements: pretty high, as a working dog they need to be exposed to a variety of things as a puppy, shyness to loud noises, strangers, other dogs, would only hamper their working ability
Ideal home characteristics: one that can give this dog plenty of physical outlet year round, great candidate for a game of fetch but need plenty of exercise and work
Temperament Notes: exuberant, enthusiastic, high powered, intelligent, focused, highly active, hyper
Training requirement: rather high to make into a happy and welcome citizen, the energy of the American Water Spaniel combined with its intelligence means it requires a job, without one, it will be seemingly mannerless as it tries to find an outlet for all the brain and energy
Trainer notes: Like most Spaniels, the AWS will not tolerate rough handling and would likely shut down.  Their joy of working with birds is in their blood so anything giving them option to retrieve and hunt will be met with great enthusiasm.  Focus is generally not an issue as they are given the option to do that which they love.  Obedience aspects can be more challenging as that natural inclination is not so high, and the discipline required is great, for a dog with this energy level.  But consistent fairness, rewarded with field work, will likely prove a fabulous combination.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: 1800s
Country of Origin: USA
Original Function: Retriever and Spaniel
History: Local land spanield and retrievers, like the Irish Water Spaniel, figured into the development of the AWS
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard:
Health Notes: Canine Hip Dysplasia, Heart Problems, Eye Problems
Health Testing: CERF (eyes), OFA registry for hips and heart
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!

  • How long have you had AWS?
  • How often do you breed?
  • What health issues do you see in the breed?
  • Do you work and title your breeding stock?
  • What health clearances do you have on your dogs?
  • At what age will you send your puppies home?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • Will you be keeping a puppy from this litter?
  • How did you choose the sire for this litter?


Web Sites: - Rescue for the American Water Spaniel Club of America National Parent Club

Other Resources
Breed standard: - American Water Spaniel Club of America Breed Standard

Breeder Ethics: - Breeder Ethics of the American Water Spaniel Club of America

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