The American Water Spaniel originated around the mid-19th century but its true origin is a mystery. Most experts have come to accept that it was likely developed in the Fox River and Wolf River valleys of Wisconsin, and most AWS owners and breeders are still located in the Great Lakes region.

AWS swimming

There is no documentation as to the specific breeds that were used to develop the AWS. Doc Pfeifer of New London, Wisconsin, the man credited with obtaining recognition for the breed in the 1920s, believed that the AWS was developed by crossing the (now extinct) English Water Spaniel and the Field Spaniel. Others have disputed this claim and it is currently accepted that the breeds involved in the development of the American Water Spaniel include the Curly Coated Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, English Water Spaniel, Flat Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel, Tweed Water Spaniel, and possibly the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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