AKC Dog Breeds: Spanish Water Dog

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 16-20  inches  Weight: 30-50 pounds  
 black, any shade of brown, beige or white; or black, brown or beige with white

The Spanish Water Dog or Perro de Agua Español is a breed of dog developed by the shepherds in Spain as a multi-purpose herder who was also used sometimes as a gundog, as well as an assistant to fishermen. There are many different theories as to its origin. but one of the most popular ones is that it was introduced by the Turks who traded in sheep and used them as sheepdogs. In Spain it is often called the "Andalusian Turk".  Regardless of its exact origins, it is documented that there was a wooly coated Shepherd Dog on the Iberian Peninsula around 1100 AD. Although the Water Dog has been in existence for centuries its modern history probably began in 1981 when Mrs. Saskya Mesdag exhibited a Spanish Water Dog at a dog show near Malaga, Spain. At this time, Antonio Garcia Perez along with Santiago Montesinos Rubio and David Salamanca Ortega began working toward getting the breed recognized. The Spanish Water Dog can still be found working in the mountains of southern Andalucia herding cattle, pigs, goats and sheep as they have been for the last 1000 years. They are also used for many more modern tasks such as search and rescue, drug and bomb sniffing, agility, and water work.  The Spanish Water Dog has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since October 2005.

General Appearance The Spanish Water Dog is rustic, well proportioned of medium weight. The head is strong and carried with elegance. The Skull is flat with only slight marked occipital crest. Their tails are usually docked in the US, but undocked tails are not a fault in conformation showing if the dog was bred in a non-docking country. It has a distinctive curly coat which is woolly in texture and may form cords when long. The coat should not be clipped or groomed for aesthetic purposes. Instead, it should look entirely natural, as though it is not groomed at all. It should never be trimmed, but sheared down at least once a year. Spanish Water Dog  puppies are always born with curly hair.

The Spanish Water Dog is diligent, loyal, affectionate, and intelligent. The Spanish Water Dog is a well balanced versatile working dog with strong herding, hunting and guardian instincts. He is an exceptional companion, devoted to family, attentive and happy dog, showing strength and stamina combined with unusual agility. He is versatile and easily trained, performing his assigned tasks with competence and dignity. They enjoy working, and can be trained to perform a variety of tasks. He is reserved with strangers but should not exhibit shyness. Although an authoritative worker, viciousness toward people or animals is intolerable. The Spanish Water Dog is a large dog in a medium body.


The Spanish Water Dog should never be brushed, instead, as the cords grow they should be checked for matting. When matting does occur they should be gently pulled apart without tearing the cords. If there is too much matting the cords should be sheared. SWD's should be bathed only when dirty in lukewarm water. Use a neutral shampoo, never use human shampoo. SWD's should be allowed to air dry. The cords must be sheared one or more times a year. Ears and eyes should cleaned as often as they are dirty

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The breed's life expectancy is about 14 years. There are cases of Hip Dysplasia in the breed, so choose your breeder carefully. There have been a few cases of PRA reported in Europe so it is advised that all breeders should test their breeding stock for PRA and other such genetic eye diseases with a yearly CERF exam. Like other Water Dogs and related breeds, they grow hair in their ear canals and can be prone to ear infections. The ears must be kept dry and clean.

Activity Level

The Spanish Water Dog should get plenty of exercise, which includes a daily walk. They are energetic and lively and are in their glory when allowed to romp and play. As young puppies (from 1 month to 7 months of age), their exercise should never be over-taxed, to avoid possible bone an joint problems later on, but should still be taken on a daily walk. They become more active and sleep less as they mature and by the time they are a year old, these dogs have endless stamina and are very fast, athletic and agile.


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