Until 2005, the American Water Spaniel was unclassified by the AKC as a hunting breed, so it was neither spaniel or retriever (at least on paper), and consequently, “Brownies,” weren’t allowed to participate in AKC hunt tests or field trials. This frustrated people who actually knew and hunted with the breed. Breed enthusiasts regarded these dogs as somewhere in-between a retriever or spaniel because AWSs felt as much at home in a duck blind as they did quartering a field for upland game. Classic spaniel on land by flushing game to the gun marking the fall, and then retrieving, it’s also been said that the dogs can be taught to hold before flushing, and on water, can be taught the game as a Lab does it. Many recognize the AWS as the first American-developed sporting dog that is an all-around hunter that can also retrieve from boats, and the many “Brownies” that have been titled as master hunters in AKC retriever, spaniel and NAHRA tests, as well as having received hunting retriever titles in HRC and working dog superior titles in the AWS Club, underscore the point.
An anecdote recounted in an article by Jim Lasley in Gun Dog Magazine further illustrates a dog born to hunt: “My dog encountered a porcupine and received a snoutful of quills, 15 to be exact. While trying to remove them, someone shot a bird. My dog saw the bird fall about 60 yards away. He broke free, ran the bird down and with a leap, caught it in the air and then delivered to hand.”
And there you have it.