View Full Version : What do you know about American Water Spaniels?

Bill Collector
03-03-2003, 09:56 AM
Hey folks,
With college winding down, I am beginning to look to fulfilling one of my many dreams, mainly, getting a second dog. I have a small lab (55-60#) right now and he is awesome. I am thinking of getting an AWS from what I have read about them - small, great cold water retrievers, determined, etc. Anyone know where to find good ones? Can they handle geese? Anything to watch for? Any info would be great.

Nevada Jim
03-03-2003, 02:42 PM
Just curious, why would you want a AWS?

BEFORE you buy one ... be sure to check the breed thoroughly against your specific needs for family circumstances, hunting conditions and other criteria unique to your own situation. You are fortunate in that there is a Hunt Test coming up this spring in MN that you can go see first these dawgs in action and talk with ownders, breeders and trainers ...

June 14 & 15, 2003
AWSC Hunt Tests
Vergas, Minnesota

For more information contact:
Jane or George Christiansen at
or 218-342-2411

Bill Collector
03-04-2003, 12:38 PM
Jim -

Thanks for the tip on the hunt test! I will definitely check it out.

Why I want an AWS:

(In no particular order)
Bred in the Midwest for Market hunters
Small in size
oily coat = cold water
Color blends in better than Springer
double duty water / upland

Kinda the same reason I like wooden dekes, Model 97 winchesters, and other nostalgic duck stuff.

Serious Question: Why wouldn't I want an AWS?

Thanks again!

Nevada Jim
03-04-2003, 01:42 PM
NR ... I can't begin to guess why YOU wouldn't want one, but I can tell you after almost 50 years of owning, training, hunting and loving gun dawgs, why I wouldn't want one.

Bred in the Midwest for Market hunters ... not likely market hunting will be legal again.

Small in size ... So are Field Cockers, Boykins, Irish Water Spaniels and several other breeds but that doesn't make them a quality versatile dawg for cold water waterfowl and upland.

Unique has no objective value that I'm aware of, it's a "I wanna be different than the next guy thing" and I can't disagree with it, just don't see a useful purpose other than psychological.

oily coat = cold water ... Not so ... oily coats mean water repellant, not able to withstand cold temps. Cold penetrates oil, it is NOT an insulator.

Color blends in better than Springer ... blends in with what? Better than a GWP also, but not as well as a typical Lab.

Double duty water / upland ... probably among the bottom 5% of choices for versatile dawg breeds.

Kinda the same reason I like wooden dekes, Model 97 winchesters, and other nostalgic duck stuff. Do you duck hunt with your nostalgic items or own and admire them only.

Here's a few you didn't mention ...

Shedding ... worse than Labs, about the sames as Goldens and GWPs.

Burrs ... The AWS coat is VERY suceptible to burrs unlike Labs.

Demeanor ... My experience with Spaniels in general is NOT good with respect to children in the home or with visitors.

Last year there were less than 200 AWS registered with AKC. That's about average for the number of registrations for the last 10 years or so. The breed was first recognized in 1940. In the ensuing 42 years, WHY do you suppose that it's never acheived the popularity of other spaniels or breeds of gun dawgs. It just has not been found to be a worthy hunting dawg overall.

12 years is a long time (typical) to have a dawg as a hunting companion. Choose wisely for your own needs and desires ... and if it is an AWS afterall, then that's great and I wish you the best of luck with it.

03-04-2003, 02:20 PM
I have to go with Nevada on this one. I would also like to add that IMO your lab is a much better double dutie dog. You know as well as anyone how well a lab will track and find game. 12 years is a long time if ya have a dog that doesnt do everything ya want it to.
Best of luck with whatever it is that you choose.

Let me add that the only time I have seen a AWS work was in RI. This guy was set on a island next too our set(DOGDOC can attest to it as he was there) and all the dog did was run up and down this island frekin barking this high pitch bark!!:CL: Drove us nuts!
I also dought highly that that dog would have been capable of handling geese(based on its size and strength).

Nevada Jim
03-04-2003, 03:37 PM
Ducksbane ... I'm sure you know your dawgs and I don't mean this in any negative way whatsoever, but ... are you SURE what you saw was an AWS? You have perfectly described the behavior of a Nova Scotia Toller that runs up and down the beach to "toll" waterfowl into the gunners range. Look here if you aren't familiar with that breed ... http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/tollers.html

03-04-2003, 03:48 PM
Opinions are like a-holes you know the deal. So I'll throw mine in.

I had an AWS, and I have owned labs also. My AWS was one of the best dogs I have ever had or seen. He was out of the breed standard (bigger than allowed) but the size definately did not hurt him in any way. He would retrieve anything, anywhere no questions asked, he protected my kids in bad situations, ie.. he stayed between my daughter and the road at all times and knocked her down when she got too close to the road. Let the kids bite, scratch whatever and never even as much as a growl. And my favorite whooped my brothers GSH that outweighed him by 30lbs at the time, all for trying to take a duck that he had brought back to me.

Bad thing was, I am on active duty in the Navy and had to give him away when I moved to San Diego.

I own a lab now, but will own another AWS in a heartbeat if the chance arrives.

03-04-2003, 04:10 PM
Spoke with the guy at the ramp, so yes it was a AWS. Also you are right it did act like a Toller but it wasnt, it was just a knuckle head. The owner had nothing but great things to say about his dog. He told TALL tales about what it would do(nothing even close to what we witnessed). I will add that IMO most people are kennel blind(they think their dog is something it isnt). With that in mind, NR, find a few AWS to watch work and then you can make your own educated opinion!

Pete S
03-04-2003, 04:31 PM
If you want to know why NOT to get a AWS?E-Mail marshrat.He is a member here and he owned one for all of 6 months..Here is his e-mail marshrat@rcn.com Just let me say they cant even come close to matching a mediocre Lab or Chessie.
Pete S