This family-loving sporting dog has a long history of being among the most skillful of all hunters' companions: He can just as easily retrieve a downed quail from the thicket as he can swim like a seal to bring in a duck, using his rudder-like tail. Families will find him adaptable to both city and country living, but his life is not complete without some time splashing in the water.
The American Water Spaniel's history is not as well known as that of other sporting breeds, but it's generally believed that he descended from the old English Water Spaniel (now extinct), the Irish Water Spaniel, and the Curly-Coated Retriever. The latter two share his most unusual feature: a coat of dark brown, shiny curls or waves. He also has an undercoat to keep him warm in cold weather.
His face is smooth, and he does not have the fluff of curls on the top of his head that an Irish Water Spaniel does. His eyes can be the same color as his coat or lighter brown, although they shouldn't be bright lemon yellow. Unlike most spaniels' tails, his is not docked. It is covered with long, feathery hair. He needs this long tail to steer him around in the water, which is one reason he's such a good swimmer.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: An active, muscular dog, medium in size, with a wavy or curly brown coat. Intelligent, eager, yet controllable. Solidly built, full of strength and dignity.
Size, Proportion, and Substance: Height--male or female, 15 to 18 inches. Weight--males, 30 to 45 pounds; females, 25 to 40 pounds. Slightly longer than tall.
Like the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the American Water Spaniel is one of the few breeds developed in the United States. He is the state dog of Wisconsin and can usually be found in the northern states of the Midwest: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.