The English Water Spaniel was a medium-to-large-sized Spaniel that existed until the early 20th century. During the breed’s existence, it was widely used for hunting waterfowl and duck.

Talking about the appearance, the English Water Spaniel had a lean and long-legged body with long tail and ears. They also had brown back, curly fur, and a white underbelly.

Origin & History

The origin of the English Water Spaniel circulates a lot of theories. While some believe that it originated in the United Kingdom, some claim that it originated in the Middle East. It is believed that Crusaders brought this breed all over Europe, especially the United Kingdom mistaking it for a Saluki.

English Water Spaniel originated in the United Kingdom.

The famous poet William Shakespeare previously referred to the English Water Spaniels in some of his plays ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ and ‘Macbeth’. He mentions water rug in the play Macbeth and in the line ‘She has more qualities than water-spaniel’ in the first play. As the plays were from the 17th century, this probably means that the dogs existed in English during that time.

Until the 1800s, the English Water Spaniels were widely popular and used for hunting. Long ago before the invention of guns, these dogs used to locate and chase the birds to be hunted out of their bushes. After that, the hunters would release trained falcons or throw nets to catch the birds.

How Did English Water Spaniel Get Extinct?

The English Water Spaniel got extinct around the early 20th century due to a lack of effort to save the breed. Their use and preference started decreasing as people started importing the St. John’s Water Dogs from Newfoundland to England. The reason for this was the St. John’s Water Dogs were skilled in a lot of areas like hunting, retrieving, and water sports.

The decline of the breed already began starting as only fourteen dogs were recorded from 1891 to 1903. World War I also had a huge impact on the English Water Spaniels as most of them lost their lives. The dogs which survived the hardships of the war died out of old age. Hence, they became totally extinct around the 1930s.

Behavior, Temperament & Personality

The English Water Spaniel had affectionate and loyal temperament. They were so hard-working that they would perform a single task for hours without getting tired. Their patient nature and intelligence helped them entered the water slowly without disturbing the beings around it. Also, they were work-driven and enjoyed being trained for hunting ducks, quarries, and other birds.

Was The English Water Spaniel Good With Children?

Yes, the English Water Spaniels were very good with children because of their affectionate and lovable nature. Like any other Spaniels, they were also friendly, playful, and joyful with kids.

The English Water Spaniels loved the attention that they used to get from these dogs. As a matter of fact, they would form a very strong bond if raised together. Taught to be calm and patient hunters, these dogs knew how to behave around kids and play with them.

Some Interesting Facts

  • The English Water Spaniel was also known as English Water Dog, Water Spaniel, Old English Water Spaniel, Water Rug, and Water-Dog.
  • American Water Spaniel is a close relative of this breed.
  • Though the breed is thought to be extinct by the 1930s, some ancestors claimed that they lived even after that.
English Water Spaniel is closely related to American Water Spaniel.
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The English Water Spaniel was found in the following colors:

  • Dark Brown
  • Reddish
  • Solid Black
  • Black & White
  • Brown & White


The English Water Spaniel used to weigh around 35-90 pounds (25-41 kg) whereas their height ranged somewhere between 18-22 inches (45-56 cm).


On average, a mother English Water Spaniel gave birth to 4-6 puppies at a time.

Similar Dog Breeds

Check out Doglime if you want to about other extinct dog breeds.