The American water spaniel is a rare American breed of dog that resembles the Irish water spaniel. They are similar in color and abilities to set and retrieve game in the field or from the water. They are also similar in that they are both rare breeds.
However, this American breed is officially the state dog of Wisconsin, the state where is originated in the 1800s. It’s thought to be the end product of crossings of the Irish water spaniel, the now extinct Tweed water spaniel and the curly-coated retriever and its extinct ancestor, the English water spaniel.
Comparison to the Irish Water Spaniel
The American water spaniel is smaller and has different coat texture than the Irish. The American has a smooth face, curly ears and curly double-layered brown coat and a tail shaped like any other setter breed. However, the Irish water spaniel, while also having a smooth-haired face, has far more poodle-like curls. The Irish water spaniel also has a naked tail. They are also taller and heavier than an American water spaniel. The Irish average 45-65 pounds, while the American only average about 25 – 45 pounds.
Rarity Not A Problem
Promoting the breed in general has never been a main push of the American Water Spaniel Club. They seem more concerned about breeding a healthy, intelligent setter that is just as good a companion at home as on the hunting field. They are also trying to breed out one of the health problems that can happen to many American water spaniels epilepsy. The breed was recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club in 1940.
American water spaniels are generally friendly and eager to please. They have been known to make good watch dogs, but do much better living inside your home with you. Since they have been bred to hunt all day, they need regular exercise in order to keep their energy in check. If they don’t get regular exercise, then they may come up with habits like digging or chewing just to relive the boredom.
“Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds” (2nd Edition) by D. Caroline Coile, Ph. D., warns that any potential problems of American water spaniels include excessive barking, whining or drooling. However, these are all treatable problems.
Their coats should be checked over every time they play outside, especially the ears. Since the ears are long and hug the head, there may be bacteria or grass seed caught in them. Every now and then, it’s good to gently flip the ears back so the air can get to them. It’s best to thoroughly brush the dog every week so that mats and snarls don’t begin to develop. You may have to clip the fur around the face if it interferes with the dog’s vision, or tie the fur into a topknot. Their fur is naturally slightly oily for water proofing.
Although some Internet sites and dog breeders hype both the American and Irish water spaniels to be hypoallergenic, this is not true. All dogs shed dander and drool saliva, which are the parst of the dog that people are most allergic to. Some people with dog allergies do well with water spaniels and some do not.
“Encyclopeida of Dog Breeds (2nd Edition.)” D. Caroline Coile, Ph. D. Barron’s; 2005.
Dog Breed Info. “American Water Spaniel.” http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/americanwaterspaniel.htm
American Water Spaniel Partners. “The Keoni Project: Epilepsy in the American Water Spaniel.” http://home.earthlink.net/~awspartners/id13.html
Vet Info. “Hypoallergenic Dogs: What is Myth and What is Fact?” http://www.vetinfo.com/hypoallergenic-dogs-myths-facts.html