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American Water Spaniels: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about American Water Spaniel temperament, personality, and behavior.

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American Water Spaniel dog breed

American Water Spaniel Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

American Water Spaniel Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

The AKC Standard says that the American Water Spaniel has "great energy and eagerness for the hunt."

This solidly built breed is happy, hardy, and adaptable, but also energetic and in need of a good amount of daily exercise. Swimming and fetching are especially appreciated. Too much confinement or isolation can lead to hyperactivity and destructive behavior.

The temperament of the American Water Spaniel is about midway between that of an ingratiating English Springer Spaniel and a self-reliant Irish Water Spaniel.

American Water Spaniels who have been extensively socialized are friendly, but many make alert watchdogs and may not always welcome strangers into their home.

Most are fine with other family pets, though some can be dominant with strange dogs.

Not as eager to please as some other spaniels, the American Water Spaniel has a stubborn, assertive streak.

Consistent leadership is a must, and obedience training must be persuasive rather than sharp, because he is sensitive and can become defensive (growling or snapping) if jerked around.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized and solidly built, with a wavy brownish coat
  • Is more discriminating with strangers than most spaniels, and makes a better watchdog
  • Loves vigorous athletic activities
  • Is hardy and healthy
  • Is uncommon -- not everyone has one!

An American Water Spaniel may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing lots of exercise
  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Suspiciousness toward strangers if not socialized enough
  • Stubbornness (mind of his own)
  • Vocalness - barking, whining, and yodeling
  • Waiting lists (hard to find)

An American Water Spaniel may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the American Water Spaniel

If I was considering an American Water Spaniel, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. American Water Spaniels MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.

    If you simply want a pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or hiking or biking or swimming, or to get involved in hunting, or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or tracking, or a similar canine activity, I do not recommend this breed.

  2. Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, American Water Spaniels need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you.

  3. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, American Water Spaniels need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness, which are difficult to live with and could even lead to defensive biting.

  4. Mind of their own. American Water Spaniels are not Golden Retrievers. They can be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your spaniel to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My American Water Spaniel Training Page discusses the program you need.

  5. Barking. American Water Spaniels are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.

  6. Finding one. In the United States, less than 180 new American Water Spaniel puppies are registered each year. Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies!


book cover To learn more about training American Water Spaniels to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your American Water Spaniel the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.



book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy American Water Spaniel. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.


If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the American Water Spaniel might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


book cover Once you have your American Water Spaniel home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.



Please consider adopting an ADULT American Water Spaniel...

When you're acquiring an American Water Spaniel PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult American Water Spaniels who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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