American Water Spaniel Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

An excellent family pet, the American water spaniel is smart, obedient and affectionate. The breed is known for barking a lot.

American Water Spaniel at a glance
The American Water Spaniel Dog Breed

Hunting instincts make the American water spaniel prone to wander. A fenced yard or leash is a must.


Weight Range:

Male: 30-45 lbs.
Female: 25-40 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Male: 18 in.
Female: 17 in.


Floppy ears (naturally)


Exercise Requirements: 20-40 minutes/day
Energy Level: Very energetic
Longevity Range: 10-13 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: High
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: High
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: Moderate

Bred For:

Bird flushing and retrieving


Length: Medium
Characteristics: Double coat, curly
Colors: Solid liver, brown, dark chocolate
Overall Grooming Needs: Low

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Sporting
UKC Classification: Gun Dog
Prevalence: Rare

American water spaniels are medium-sized, muscular dogs that stand from about 15 to 18 inches tall and weigh from 25 to 45 pounds (11 to 20 kilograms).

They have a distinctive curly or wavy outer coat in liver or dark chocolate. Some have white on the chest and toes. The ears are long and covered with curly hair, and the tail is moderately long and feathered. The life expectancy of the American water spaniel is about 10 to 13 years.


American water spaniels are smart, obedient, affectionate and known for getting along with other animals and children. They also make good watchdogs. These characteristics make them excellent family pets.

Living With:

True to their hunting instincts, this breed likes to wander and should be contained in a fenced yard or taken out on leash. Since the dogs are natural water retrievers, they also enjoy the opportunity to swim.

Brushing about twice weekly is all that is needed to keep the water spaniel's coat in good shape. They are considered light shedders. The coat tends to get oily, however, and may produce an odor.

Water spaniels can adapt to just about any type of environment, but they are active dogs by nature. If kept in a small house or apartment, they need to be walked routinely or given the opportunity to romp freely in a fenced-in space.


American water spaniels have been around since the 18th century. They were developed as working gun dogs in the American Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota, and excel at retrieving game birds on land or in water. The breed is used primarily for hunting quail, pheasant, duck, grouse, and rabbit. Although no one is certain, the dog's coat and gun skills suggest it is the result of crossing the curly-coated retriever with the Irish water spaniel.

The American water spaniel is a rare breed even though these dogs have many characteristics that make them excellent family pets. In 1990, fewer than 300 were registered with the American Kennel Club.