The American Water Spaniel is a rare hunting dog, with an estimated three thousand in existence and very few puppies born every year. It is also one of the few breeds of hunting dogs developed in the United States. Since the 1800s, these sporty hunting dogs have been used to retrieve all types of game, but they are most well known for their use in harvesting waterfowl in the Great Lakes Region. These lively hunting dogs have a historic popularity in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and neighboring states.
These bird dogs are meticulous and methodical hunters. They typically work a field by sweeping from side to side at a steady pace. The American Water Spaniel is also very good at following a scent and has a great nose. A well-trained hunting dog of this dog breed can work close to its handler or within gun range. American Water Spaniels are skilled swimmers and can harvest game from a boat if needed. These hunting dogs usually have no problem showing willingness to enter the water, although some can be cautious when doing so. Able to hunt various types of game in addition to waterfowl, this is a very versatile breed of bird dog.
American Water Spaniels have a pretty good reputation for being trainable and obedient, but they can sometimes be stubborn or willful. Anyone who trains one of these hunting dogs should be sure to create and enforce a clear set of rules for the gun dog and consistently enforce them, as you should for any hunting dog breed. Discipline, however, should be dealt with carefully. Harsher treatment can cause your hunting dog to become stubborn or even fearful. The American Water Spaniel should be handled gently and given rewards for doing things right rather than punishment for doing things wrong.
The American Water Spaniel has a curly, dense, and water-resistant coat, which is one of the attributes that enable them to retrieve game from water so well. This thick coat also protects their skin from water foliage. These hunting dogs are considered to be medium-sized. Males and females both tend to be between 15-18 inches tall and between 25-45 pounds in weight. These coat coloring consists of different shades of brown (liver, brown, or chocolate). They have long, floppy ears covered in curly fur, which makes for a very cute canine.
Like most sporting or hunting dog breeds, these bird dogs are very active. They need exercise every day. If they are sedentary for too long, they can develop bad habits to release pent-up energy, such as all-day barking or habitual chewing. The American Water Spaniel is also prone to excessive digging and jumping, but these behaviors can be handled through training. American Water Spaniels love being the center of attention and need companionship, so it is important that they are not left alone too often. They sometimes become one-person bird dogs but will usually be friendly with all members of a household.
The American Water Spaniel is considered to be a relatively healthy gun dog with an average lifespan of 10-13 years. There are very few outstanding genetic risks associated with this hunting dog breed. However, it is always possible that an animal will become one of the minority who get sick, no matter how healthy their hunting dog breed tends to be. The American Water Spaniel Club recommends that potential breeding dogs be screened for hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and cardiac abnormalities. These are the most common geneticrelated health issues encountered by these hunting dogs. Other less common diseases include canine epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Anyone considering buying an American Water Spaniel or any other bird dog should inquire about the animal’s health history and genetic tests.