American Water Spaniels

Rare Breed is Devoted Family Member

The American water spaniel is considered a rare breed, mostly due in part to its strict breeding standards and limited popularity.

The breed ranked 160 out of 178 breeds registered with the American Kennel Club in 2014.

However, while the AWS may not be in high demand, it is highly appreciated by those who love them, for their affable personality and eagerness to perform, whether at home or outdoors.

American Water Spaniel

The American water spaniel, also known as the AWS, was bred during the 19th century in Wisconsin. Its ancestral heritage includes a number of other breeds, including the poodle and the Irish and English water spaniels.

Originally named the American brown spaniel, the AWS was bred for hunters who needed a versatile, smaller-sized dog that could retrieve in water and on land.

Recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1920 and the American Kennel Club in 1940, the breed was named the state dog of Wisconsin in 1985.

The AWS was bred to have an even temperament, balancing its personality as a hunting dog and family companion.

The breed is eager to learn and responds well to training, excelling at retrieving, agility and endurance, although it can display some stubbornness when bored or given the opportunity to take control.

This is typically a very happy breed, with a notably good disposition, affectionate and loyal. Known to enjoy being the center of attention, the AWS can be very vocal at times. They make good family dogs and are known to relish the company of children.

American Water Spaniel

The AWS appears much as it did in the 19th century, thanks in part to its limited popularity. Without a high demand for the breed, breeders have been able to restrict changes in the AWS.

The AWS is a medium-sized dog, approximately 25 to 45 pounds, with a double-layered coat in a one of three shades of brown (liver, brown or chocolate). The coat can either be tightly curled or fall in waves, known as the marcel pattern.

The breed has a somewhat oily, water-resistant coat, with a coarse outer layer that protects the dog from bristly foliage and helps keep the dog warm in colder climates.

While these may be common medical conditions, your American water spaniel will not necessarily develop any of those listed below.

Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms can include discoloring of the pupil, and treatment may include surgery to remove the cataract.

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. The symptoms vary in severity but the dog usually foams at the mouth and appears to be chewing on something. Progressive symptoms lead to violent muscle contractions, loss of bladder or bowel control and fainting.

Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis, is especially crippling in large breeds of dogs.

Hypothyroidism is due to a low thyroid hormone level. Lack of this hormone causes weight gain, lethargy, poor hair coat, behavior changes, infertility and susceptibility to chronic infections.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): is an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness.

Skin allergies have a tendency to develop in AWS. Allergens can include pollen, food, dust or parasites, spores or even the cleaning solutions used around your house — all which can lead to persistent, itchy skin. If your AWS shows signs of irritation (hair loss, constant itching or a rash), schedule an appointment to have your veterinarian examine your dog immediately.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.