The American Water Spaniel (AWS), a fairly rare breed, was bred for the water and many consider them to be the lifeguard of all dog breeds. Hunters have used these dogs to retrieve from small boats such as skiffs or canoes due to their extraordinary endurance and retrieval ability. The exact origin of this spaniel is uncertain, but the breed was developed in the Great Lakes region of the United States and was an established breed by the end of the 19th century. Their ancestors are believed to be the Irish Water Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel, and the now-extinct Old English Water Spaniel. The popularity of the AWS in the area gained them the spot of being the official state dog of Wisconsin.
A very skilled swimmer, the "little brown dog," as they are commonly referred to as, owes that to its water-resistant topcoat, which has uniform waves or can be closely curled with dark brown to liver coloring, while the undercoat is dense and thick. Although this spaniel is cute and small in size, do not be fooled, they are a tough hunting breed. The American Water Spaniel has strong back legs to be able to propel themselves over water or land and they are slightly longer than they are tall. They have slightly rounded eyes, long ears that are covered with fuzzy hair, and the square-shaped muzzle of this small spaniel has a black or dark brown nose. Their extraordinary sense of smell helps them while hunting in the rough thickets of their native environment. The tail of the AWS is covered in feathery hair and carried at a slight curve.
The American Water Spaniel is mostly known as a hunting breed, but they are intelligent, friendly, always eager to please, and can make an excellent companion. High energy makes this breed a tireless companion in the hunt. Once they pick up a scent, they tend to follow it, no matter how hard you might command them to stop. With proper obedience training from a firm owner, these traits and habits can be controlled. Generally alert and playful, the AWS is famous for its love of barking to make an excellent watchdog and hunting partner but also a great playmate for children. Early training and socialization are important to avoid shyness and intolerance of unknown dogs. These spaniels may not be the best choice for households with cats or other small animals due to their hunting background and high prey drive. The AWS is a very active breed that requires a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them busy and is best suited for an active family who lives in a rural area or has a large fenced yard. One of the rarer breeds, it may take some time to find one, but the American Water Spaniel is worth the wait for someone looking for a loyal hunting partner or a life-long family companion.