American Water Spaniels (also known as AWS) were bred as all-in-one hunting companions in Wisconsin during the 1800’s. They’re athletic dogs that love swimming and hunting.
And thankfully, the AWS doesn’t shed much hair.
However, they do have a double coat which means that, as with most double coated breeds, they shed seasonally. So you should expect to see a higher level of moulting during this period.
Read on to learn more about how much they shed, what they’re like to groom and what makes the AWS such a special (and rare) breed.
American Water Spaniel Shedding
The American Water Spaniel is a low shedding breed.
Throughout most of the year they don’t shed much at all, but the AWS is double coated. What this means is that they have two coats – a waterproof outer coat and a dense undercoat of fur which sheds seasonally.
To give you an idea of how much they shed in comparison to other, similar breeds, they shed about the same as the Irish Water Spaniel. A breed which they are said to be related to. And they shed even less than other spaniels like the Boykin Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel for example.
In any case, seasonal shedding (and shedding in general) is normal and nothing to be concerned about. Shedding occurs when the old hair stops growing, falls out, and new hair takes its place.
Seasonal shedding normally takes during spring and really just means you’ll need to whip out your brush more often. But thankfully this doesn’t normally last for more than few weeks or so.
Either way, they do shed more than a dog that would fall into the “non-shedding” or “hypoallergenic” category. The hair itself doesn’t cause allergies, it’s the dander (dead skin) that does this. But when this dander attaches itself to the hair and that hair falls out, the allergens spread throughout the home.
No dog is every truly hypoallergenic, but the less a dog sheds, generally the more suitable they are for those with allergies. So if this is your concern, there are other more suitable breeds.
Grooming Your AWS
Grooming your American Water Spaniel is fairly easy, it really comes down to weekly brushing. Their coat is made up of a wavy or curly, waterproof outer coat that comes in shades of brown, chocolate and liver. As well as a dense undercoat that keeps him warm in winter and cooler in summer.
Brushing 2-3 times per week is all that’s really required to keep his coat in good shape. And most of the time, a pin brush will get the job done. A pin brush is just a brush that is made up of stainless steel pins and rubber or plastic tips.
When your AWS is in seasonal shedding mode though, daily brushing with a good quality slicker brush is worthwhile. Not only will this remove the dead hair from the coat before it has a chance to fall out, but it’s good for his coat.
When it comes to shedding, the best brush to use is probably a slicker brush. This is excellent for removing dead hairs from both the top coat and undercoat, as well as helping you remove mats and tangles.
Brushing really is the simplest and most effective way to reduce shedding. Or more specifically, how much hair you have to spend time cleaning up.
But there are other things you can do, such as bathing and ensuring they are getting a healthy, balanced diet. You don’t need to bathe too often, but American Water Spaniels are prone to oily skin so this can help to eliminate that typical dog odor.
Not to mention, a bath in warm water, followed by a blow dry and brush can remove a lot of dead fur from the coat, so it’s well worth doing.
What Makes American Water Spaniels Unique?
American Water Spaniels are a medium size dog that originates from the state of Wisconsin, where they were bred as hunting companions during the 19th century.
Part of their duties involved locating and retrieving small animals like duck and quail. As well as accompanying their master in the canoe or boat, often diving in the water to collect and return what their master has shot.
The American Water Spaniel was well suited to this task too. Not just because of their temperament and athleticism, but because of their webbed toes, natural swimming ability and waterproof coat that kept them warm.
In some ways, they’re kind of like a smaller, lower shedding version of the Newfoundland, which is well regarded in Canada as being a highly skilled water rescue dog. And, being a gun dog, they’re similar to dogs like the Irish Setter in the way they hunt and retrieve.
They’re not related to these breeds though. According to the American Kennel Club, they are actually a mix of various other spaniels (like the Irish Spaniel) and the Curly-Coated Retriever.
Either way, today they are best known for being upbeat, athletic and charming family companions. They’re quite rare though, so it can be difficult to find a breeder.
But if you do manage to find an American Water Spaniel, you’ll be friends for life because they really are one of a kind.
Not to mention, they don’t shed much, especially not in comparison to many other spaniels. So, as long as you brush them regularly, you can enjoy the company of this amazing dog and keep your home fur free!