Buying or Adopting an American Water Spaniel
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
Is a DOG really the right pet for you?
I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.
Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?
Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:
Is an American Water Spaniel the right breed for you?
Are YOU right for an American Water Spaniel?
Can you provide what this breed needs?
- Someone home most of the day
- Fenced yard (not an electronic/underground fence)
- Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your American Water Spaniel stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
- "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, flyball, musical freestyle, dock diving, tracking, field trials); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
- Brushing – moderate
- Trimming – every few months
- An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
- A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a smaller dog
- An owner with enough money to treat the health problems American Water Spaniels are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
- An owner who is okay with moderate shedding
- Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your American Water Spaniel to lots of people and other animals
- Commitment to establish the proper Leader-Follower relationship with your American Water Spaniel, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say
Should you get a male or female American Water Spaniel?
Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?
Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?
Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new American Water Spaniel be?
Where can you buy or adopt an American Water Spaniel?
American Water Spaniels are very uncommon in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, American Water Spaniels rank 156th. Their dark curlyish coat may not be attractive to a lot of people, although I think they're handsome.
Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
Not many American Water Spaniels are turned over to Rescue groups, because not many people own them in the first place. Also the breed is not that difficult to live with, so fewer owners tend to give up on them and dump them into Rescue.
Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
American Water Spaniels are virtually never found here for the same reasons listed above. Plus, American Water Spaniel Rescue groups keep their eyes peeled on shelters and humane societies across the country. On the off chance that an American Water Spaniel turns up at a shelter, the rescue group typically moves in quickly to take the dog.
Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy an American Water Spaniel from a show breeder, who breeds American Water Spaniels to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring. Or you can buy an American Water Spaniel from a performance breeder, who breeds "field dogs" strictly for hunting. Some breeders are a combination of show/performance, though how they prioritize those two goals can vary greatly.
Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of an American Water Spaniel puppy should have:
- a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have a normal thyroid
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or a report from a veterinary cardiologist – dated within the past year – certifying that the dog has had an Advanced Cardiac Exam and has a normal heart
Also, at least ONE PARENT of an American Water Spaniel puppy should have:
- a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a severe hereditary eye disease called prcd-PRA.
If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your American Water Spaniel ends up with heart disease and hip dysplasia.
Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
I've never seen an American Water Spaniel in a pet shop. Good thing, because I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!
How To Choose a Good American Water Spaniel Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of American Water Spaniel puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.
AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered American Water Spaniel puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?
To help you train and care for your dog
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.