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American Water Spaniel Club, Inc.

AKC Member and Parent Club

AWS Health Issues

As the world of pure bred dogs goes the American Water Spaniel is not considered to be a breed that is overwhelmed by health problems nor is it devoid of them altogether. As with any breed, the majority of AWS are going to live long and healthy lives provided they are cared for properly and given good medical care. Sadly, there will be some that experience a health crisis.

Health examThe causes of such a crisis can be as varied as the health issues themselves and may be brought on by everything from viral infections, to a traumatic injury, to an inherited condition. In essence, the AWS is no different than any of us humans; any one of us can come up with an unexpected health problem that comes at us from any number of directions. Still, every breed of dog seems to have its own set of specific problems, some of which show a solid hereditary component, affecting a diverse group of a breed's population without regard to family ties while others may show little more than a possible tendency to affect certain families. This is why it is important for all breeders - big or small, old or new - to screen for hereditary problems prior to breeding any AWS. With screening we stand a good chance of reducing the occurrence of certain health issues which makes for a healthier American Water Spaniel population and makes life easier for everyone.

The health issues that the AWSC recommends screening for are hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and cardiac abnormalities. Both hip dysplasia and cardiac abnormalities are screened following criteria established by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Eye disorders are screened following the Canine Eye Registration Foundations (CERF) protocols. An AWS that has gone through the process of having these health screenings will be assigned a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) number. That number is only an indicator that the dog has undergone health screening and does not show that the dog was found in good health or free of any abnormalities. 

Cardiac exam of an AWSAt the present time the above mentioned screenings are the only ones recommended by the AWSC. This should not be taken to mean that these are the only health issues facing the AWS. Others do as well, including canine epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. When considering the purchase of an AWS, be sure to talk to the breeder about the health screening he or she has done and any health issues that may have shown up over the years.

Reference Links

AWS Health Links

AKC Breeder Newsletter by Issue Date

AKC Breeder Resources - A Guide to Breeding Your Dog

AWS Health Survey

Canine Health Foundation Podcasts