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American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel Breed


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Dog Size

Energy Level

Dog Energy Level


Dog Trainability

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Physical Characteristics:
Height: 15-18”
Weight: 25-45 lbs.
Energy Level: Moderate
The American Kennel Club recognizes the American Water Spaniel in the following colors:

  • Black
  • Chocolate
  • Liver

Health & Longevity

Average Life Span: 12-15 years
The American Water Spaniel is a healthy breed, but there are some health problems they may experience.

Hip dysplasia can occur in some American Water Spaniels. This condition is caused by a malformed hip joint, which leads to the thighbone not fitting correctly into place. This results in pain, discomfort, and limping. In the most severe cases, it can lead to arthritis or even lameness; surgery may be required in these instances. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not breed, so ensure that your puppy’s parents have no history of the condition. Although it is hereditary, hip dysplasia can be triggered by rapid weight gain or injury.

Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient amounts of hormones, may affect some American Water Spaniels as well. Hypothyroidism can lead to issues such as obesity, infertility, lethargy, and hair loss. It can be treated with daily medication for the duration of the affected dog’s lifetime.

The American Water Spaniel may also experience eye problems such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), retinal dysplasia, and cataracts. PRA is the gradual degeneration of the retina, and it ultimately leads to failed daytime vision. There is no cure for PRA, but dogs with the condition still lead happy lives, and the gradual loss of vision allows for an adjustment period. Retinal dysplasia is a condition that causes round clumps to form in the eye’s retinal tissue. There are three different forms of retinal dysplasia, the most severe of which is accompanied by retinal detachment and results in blindness. The disease is not progressive, but there is no cure or treatment for retinal dysplasia at this time.

Other health issues that have been reported in some American Water Spaniels include allergies, epilepsy, and pattern baldness.

The American Water Spaniel has an average lifespan of 12-15 years.

Temperament & Train-ability

The American Water Spaniel is a cheerful, charming dog with a bit of a stubborn streak. He is a highly active dog who loves swimming, jumping, digging, and spending time with his family.

This breed needs plenty of stimulation, both physical and mental. The American Water Spaniel requires 1-2 hours daily of running, walking, or playing, so he is best matched with an active owner who wants to take him on jogs or hikes. He also loves swimming, as his name suggests. He can hunt a variety of small game, but his specialty is retrieving waterfowl, so he is a natural in the water. The American Water Spaniel could potentially live in an apartment if his exercise needs are met, but he would prefer a large yard with space to run and stretch his legs freely. The yard does need to be securely fenced, and he needs to be kept on a leash if outdoors in an open area. Like most hunting breeds, the American Water Spaniel is prone to wandering if given the opportunity.

He is well-mannered and fairly calm indoors if he receives adequate stimulation, but he will bark, chew, and make a mess if he is bored or not exercising frequently enough. He can also become destructive if left alone for more than a few hours at a time, so he is not the best breed for someone who must work or go to school for the majority of the day. He craves companionship and wants to be around his people as much as possible. The best home for the American Water Spaniel would be one with a large yard that he can play in, but he would prefer to live indoors and to have at least one member of the family home for most of the day. One bonus about the American Water Spaniel is that he does make an excellent watchdog and will protect his family.

Although the American Water Spaniel will be friendly and affectionate with the entire family, he is likely to develop a special bond with one family member in particular. He is usually good with children, but he does like to jump on people, so supervision around young children and training to curb this behavior will be required. He has a tendency to be aggressive with unfamiliar dogs and can become territorial. He is aloof with most strangers, but he can be friendly and polite if he is properly introduced and socialized.

Training the American Water Spaniel can be a bit of a challenge, because this breed can be stubborn and manipulative. Be absolutely consistent in enforcing your rules and expectations. Speak in a firm tone, but do not raise your voice. Harsh training will make him either timid or stubborn, so it is important to use positive reinforcement techniques like treats, praise, and playtime. Address behaviors like chewing, jumping, and digging when training your American Water Spaniel.


The American Water Spaniel’s double coat may be curly or wavy, but this varies from dog to dog. A weekly brushing is typically sufficient to keep his coat well-groomed. He does shed heavily in the spring.

Bathe the American Water Spaniel only as needed; his skin has natural oils that repel water, and you do not want to damage them. Trim his nails 1-2 times monthly to prevent overgrowth and cracking. Check his ears regularly for signs of infection like redness, tenderness, or odor. Remember that dogs with hanging ears are especially prone to ear infection, and this is doubly true because the American Water Spaniel likes to swim often. Clean his ears weekly with a veterinarian recommended cleaner, and dry his ears thoroughly after every bath or swim.

Brush his teeth 2-3 times weekly to ensure healthy gums and to prevent bad breath.


On average, the American Water Spaniel should eat 1-1.5 cups of high quality dry dog food daily. Keep in mind that the ideal type and amount of food for your individual dog will depend on variables like age, weight, activity level, and metabolism.

Ensure that your American Water Spaniel has access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

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This fairly rare breed costs an average of $900. Prices may vary according to factors like gender, breeder location, and pedigree.

If you are able to adopt an American Water Spaniel, expect adoption fees costing up to $175.

Paws ‘N’ Pups Ranking

Paws ‘N’ Pups ranks every breed out of 4 with 1 being easiest to integrate into your life and 4 being the toughest – The lower the ranking the better.

Ranking takes into account a few basic factors including cost, skill level needed, high vs low maintenance and how critical regular training is to success. The American Water Spaniels ranks a 3.5. He is a cheerful family companion who makes an excellent watch dog. However, he needs a great deal of daily exercise as well as companionship, and he is not a good choice for someone who must spend the majority of the day at work. He likes to dig, jump, and chew, is prone to wandering and dog aggression at times, and he can be challenging to train.


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