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Easy answer: American Water Spaniel

They aren't for everyone, but if your'e looking at a Boykin then look at an AWS. AWS' were bred into Boykin lines. They're little dynamos with different personalities than a Lab. Don't get me wrong, Labs are great dogs, but an AWS may be what you're looking for. They have a double coat, webbed feet, and were bred by market hunters of the midwest to fetch ducks from the Lake Winnebago system of Wisconsin from small skiffs. Think about the motor necessary to retrieve HUNDREDS of ducks in a day. That's what they're bringing from the factory.

If you're a non-conformist, as I am, then an AWS will meet that interest. When everyone else is loading up they're Labs at the boat landing, it's fun to see the looks as everyone glimpses my 40-pound thick-chested hunting machine. Yes, his big floppy ears and curly coat gets a few comments about my Labradoodle, but I view that as more of a demonstration on how uninformed they are. Personally, I think those that recognize the breed is an indication of how knowledgeable they are on ducks, dogs, and duck hunting. What's better is when an old timer asks, "Is that an American Brown Spaniel?" That means he's been around the flyway for a while.

Pedigrees? Not much to worry about with an AWS. There is no split between show lines and field lines. None. Younger dogs will have hunt test titles, but there won't be many titles on dogs that were around about pre-2005. AWS' were unclassified according to AKC, so they couldn't run in spaniel or retriever games. Now, they're classified as spaniels, but due to a rule change by AKC, they can be run in retriever games, too.
You expect that AWS would be comfortable if they got stuck living down in Boykin country? I understand the breeding origin in general,, have family up on Winnebago, and intend to hunt and canoe MN and Wi an further north quite a bit with the next dog… but having foolishly transferred south, may not have a spouse willing to head north with retirement so dog and I would have to reverse snowbird it To chase ducks, upland birds, and fish in cooler country. Had labs for 25 of last 27 years, pondering life with a smaller canine traveling friend going forward. AWS, Boykins, Springers, small labs have all come to mind - thoughts?
 
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