The American Water Spaniel breed appeared in the hunting grounds along the Fox River and its tributary, the Wolf River in the early 19th century. At that distant time, people were exploring new territories and hunting was an important part of their life and everyday life. Accordingly, hunters needed a dog that could get game out of the water, find it in dense thickets of bushes and reeds.
That is, the dog had to be versatile, to be able to help on water and on land, also, it had to be small in size so that it could be placed on a boat. In addition, the Fox River has very cold water for most of the year, and therefore the animal was required to have the appropriate coat.
The American Water Spaniel was originally known as the American Brown Spaniel – small, tightly knit, with excellent flair and a double, slightly curly coat that resists water, thorns and bushy branches. This dog weighed up to 20 kg. Over time, the population declined as humans stopped using hunting for survival, therefore, the number of hunters also declined, and the need for highly specialized dogs disappeared.
In addition, the duck population in these areas has also been steadily declining. The American Water Spaniel is believed to be the foundation of the breed that helped develop the Boykin Spaniel. The following breeds were used to create the American Water Spaniel:
- English Water Spaniel;
- Indian dog;
- Irish Water Spaniel;
- Sussex spaniel or other type of field spaniel.
In 1985, these dogs became the official breed of the state of Wisconsin. They are not classified as Retrievers or Spaniels, and cannot participate in the AKC Field Trials, but can participate in the AKC Hunting Tests (Spaniel and Retriever Tests) and AWSC-sponsored Retriever Hunting Tests in the USA. The breed is small in number, but in recent years there has been a slight jump in popularity.
They are small dogs with a strong build, wide skull and drooping ears. The limbs are of medium length. The wool is two-layer, can be of two types – the first is more curly, on the outer layer, the second lies in waves. The inner layer protects the dog from water ingress, the outer layer protects it from gross damage (thorns, branches, etc.). The breed standard states that the color of the eyes must be in harmony with the color of the coat and cannot be yellow.
When the American Water Spaniel was first created as a breed, these dogs were distinguished by a peculiar disposition, stubbornness, strong hunting instincts and a pronounced, unfriendly attitude towards strangers. However, over time, breeders carried out serious work on the selection and harmonization of the character of their dogs, due to which the individuals living in modern times have a more open, friendly and affectionate character.
However, the hunting instincts remained, as well as some stubbornness. These dogs do not swim very quickly, but they can do it for a long time, having excellent endurance. Need activity, exercise, walking, play and mental stimulation. Intelligence is well developed. The American Water Spaniel can sometimes actively show its position in life, express opinions, be noisy and generally be the center of attention. Much, of course, depends on upbringing and innate qualities.
Small animals and birds are perceived exclusively as prey – it is impossible to rid the dog of these properties, and it does not make sense. The attitude towards children is generally friendly. We can say that the American Water Spaniel is a classic example of a dog of the same family. If you transfer this pet in adulthood to another family, it will be catastrophically difficult for him.
Moreover, even within its family, the animal often chooses, so to speak, the main owner, who will enjoy the special trust and obedience of the dog. Learning is perceived well, giving preference to interesting, active training, devoid of monotony. They adapt well to life in an apartment, with a sufficient number of walks and activity. When lacking, they can become destructive.
The American Water Spaniel breed is prone to the following diseases:
- progressive retinal atrophy (inherited);
- cataract (inherited);
- diseases of the glands that cause baldness.