American Water Spaniel
The cute and curly-coated American Water Spaniel is the official state dog of Wisconsin, but don’t underestimate the breed’s abilities. This little brown dog weighing in at 25 to 45 pounds may look demure on the outside, but he’s a scrappy, strong-willed hunting dog who’s comfortable on land and water and doubles as an excellent watchdog.
His protective demeanor, oppositional nature, and dual personality set him apart from other spaniels in the Sporting Group. Although he’s a spaniel, the American Water Spaniel is a water retriever developed from the Irish Water Spaniel and Curly-Coated Retriever in Wisconsin in the mid-1800s.
This intelligent breed enjoys a top dog position with people and other dogs, but will accept positive consistent training. With energy to burn, the American Water Spaniel needs plenty of daily exercise. Water sports come natural to him, as hunting from a boat is instinctual.
Official Standard for the American Water Spaniel
American Water Spaniel Club
General Appearance: The American Water Spaniel was developed in the United States as an all-around hunting dog, bred to retrieve from skiff or canoes and work ground with relative ease. The American Water Spaniel is an active muscular dog, medium in size with a marcel to curly coat. Emphasis is placed on proper size and a symmetrical relationship of parts, texture of coat and color.
Size, Proportion, Substance: 15 to 18 inches for either sex. Males weighing 30 to 45 pounds. Females weighing 25 to 40 pounds. Females tend to be slightly smaller than the males. There is no preference for size within the given range of either sex providing correct proportion, good substance and balance is maintained. Proportion – is slightly longer than tall, not too square or compact. However, exact proportion is not as important as the dog being well-balanced and sound, capable of performing the breed’s intended function. Substance – a solidly built and well- muscled dog full of strength and quality. The breed has as much substance and bone as necessary to carry the muscular structure but not so much as to appear clumsy.
Head: The head must be in proportion to the overall dog. Moderate in length. Expression is alert, self-confident, attractive and intelligent. Medium size eyes set well apart, while slightly rounded, should not appear protruding or bulging. Lids tight, not drooping. Eye color can range from a light yellowish brown to brown, hazel or of dark tone to harmonize with coat. Disqualify yellow eyes. Yellow eyes are a bright color like that of lemon, not to be confused with the light yellowish brown. Ears set slightly above the eye line but not too high on the head, lobular, long and wide with leather extending to nose. Skull rather broad and full, stop moderately defined, but not too pronounced. Muzzle moderate in length, square with good depth. No inclination to snipiness, the lips are clean and tight without excess skin or flews. Nose dark in color, black or dark brown. The nose sufficiently wide and with well-developed nostrils to insure good scenting power. Bite either scissor or level.
Neck, Topline, Body: Neck round and of medium length, strong and muscular, free of throatiness, set to carry head with dignity, but arch not accentuated. Topline level or slight, straight slope from withers. Body well-developed, sturdily constructed but not too compactly coupled. Well-developed brisket extending to elbow neither too broad nor too narrow. The ribs well-sprung, but not so well-sprung that they interfere with the movement of the front assembly. The loins strong, but not having a tucked-up look. Tail is moderate in length, curved in a rocker fashion, can be carried either slightly below or above the level of the back. The tail is tapered, lively and covered with hair with moderate feathering.
Forequarters: Shoulders sloping, clean and muscular. Legs medium in length, straight and well- boned but not so short as to handicap for field work or so heavy as to appear clumsy. Pasterns strong with no suggestion of weakness. Toes closely grouped, webbed and well-padded. Size of feet to harmonize with size of dog. Front dewclaws are permissible.
Hindquarters: Well-developed hips and thighs with the whole rear assembly showing strength and drive. The hock joint slightly rounded, should not be small and sharp in contour, moderately angulated. Legs from hock joint to foot pad moderate in length, strong and straight with good bone structure. Hocks parallel.
Coat: Coat can range from marcel (uniform waves) to closely curled. The amount of waves or curls can vary from one area to another on the dog. It is important to have undercoat to provide sufficient density to be of protection against weather, water or punishing cover, yet not too coarse or too soft. The throat, neck and rear of the dog well-covered with hair. The ear well- covered with hair on both sides with ear canal evident upon inspection. Forehead covered with short smooth hair and without topknot. Tail covered with hair to tip with moderate feathering. Legs have moderate feathering with waves or curls to harmonize with coat of dog. Coat may be trimmed to present a well groomed appearance; the ears may be shaved; but neither is required. Color: Color either solid liver, brown or dark chocolate. A little white on toes and chest permissible.
Gait: The American Water Spaniel moves with well-balanced reach and drive. Watching a dog move toward one, there should be no signs of elbows being out. Upon viewing the dog from the rear, one should get the impression that the hind legs, which should be well-muscled and not cowhocked, move as nearly parallel as possible, with hocks doing their full share of work and flexing well, thus giving the appearance of power and strength.
Temperament: Demeanor indicates intelligence, eagerness to please and friendly. Great energy and eagerness for the hunt yet controllable in the field.
Disqualifications: Yellow eyes.
Approved March 13, 1990 Effective May 1, 1990
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