The medium-sized American Water Spaniel is a reputable hunting dog that is always full of energy and enthusiasm. These dogs were bred to hunt small game but they specialize in hunting waterfowl. They are natural swimmers and are skilled retrievers. Their versatility makes them excel in many dog sports such as agility and obedience trials, hunt tests and rally. 
The origin of the breed remains a mystery but it is widely believed that these dogs are the descendants of the English Water Spaniel, now an extinct breed. Settlers who moved to the west brought their English Water Spaniels with them to ensure that they would be able to provide food for themselves. The descriptions of those dogs and the appearance of the modern American Water Spaniel indicate that the two breeds bear a close resemblance. 
By the end of the 19th century, small brown spaniels that could retrieve in any conditions became popular in Wisconsin. These dogs were small enough to fit comfortably in little boats and were also known as great companions.  Eventually, larger retriever breeds became popular and the little spaniels began to fall out of favor. Thankfully, a breeder from New London, Wisconsin named Dr. F.J. Pfeifer saved the breed from extinction.  He established a breed standard for the American Water Spaniel and advertised them across the country. Part of a sales pitch that Pfeifer mailed to prospective dog owners read, “The American Brown Spaniel is distinctively an American production. Hunters have known this type for years and it was through their efforts that this dog was propagated…. For years we have bred only selective stock, breeding for gameness, stability, courage, intelligence, and beauty. They are dogs to admire and trust under all conditions whether in the home circle or in the field with the outdoor man.” 
The pleasant and easygoing American Water Spaniel wants to be a part of the family. They are calm and loving to their humans but tend to be very vocal. Owners should teach them commands to moderate their voice.