Spanish Water Dog

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Is the Spanish Water Dog right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Perro de Agua Español; SWD; Perro de Turco Andaluz; Perro de Lanas

The basics:
The Spanish Water Dog may be a new breed to the United States, recognized by the AKC only in 2015, but it has 800 years of history as a hard-working dog of the Iberian peninsula. While the woolly coat with the hair in the eyes may scream "sheepdog," this intelligent herding group dog was extremely versatile. In addition to herding livestock of many kinds, it helped hunt game and assist on fishing vessels. In modern times, it has been repurposed to work in search and rescue as well as drug and bomb detection. Clearly, like other herding group dogs, it has a high intelligence and a willingness to assist with human tasks. This athletic and loyal dog does best with owners who can give it something worthwhile to do with its brain and its energy.

Appearance / health:
The Spanish Water Dog has a curly non-shedding coat that may naturally form cords. While the Spanish Water Dog is a low dander hypo-allergenic dog, there is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog. People with severe allergies should spend time with a Spanish Water Dog before making one part of their family to see if they have an allergic reaction. Some allergy sufferers are also allergic to the saliva.

The Spanish Water Dog should be longer than it is tall. The following body ratios are a good rule of thumb for Spanish Water Dog proportions: Length of body/size (height at withers): 9/8; Depth of chest/size (height at withers): 4/8; and Length of muzzle/length of skull: 2/3. withers.

Male Spanish Water Dogs should be approximately: 44 to 50 cm (17.32 to 19.68 inches) tall at the withers, and between 18 to 22 kg (39.69 to 48.5 lbs) in weight.

Female Spanish Water Dogs should be approximately: 40 to 46 cm (15.75 to 18.11 inches) tall at the withers, and between 14 to 18 kg (30.86 to 39.69 lbs) in weight.

The Spanish Water Dog generally requires little grooming. The coat should never be brushed or combed. At least once a year, the coat must be evenly sheared from the entire body, very similar to shearing a sheep – twice per year is not uncommon. During the phase in which the Spanish Water Dog’s coat begins to cord, more work is required to assist proper cording and to prevent the cords from matting near the skin. When bathing, a light, non-astringent shampoo should be used. The coat should not be towel dried after bathing, but rather should be “blotted” and permitted to drip or air dry so coat properly cords. No aesthetic haircuts are permitted – the dog should remain rustic in appearance.

Exercise is crucial for this breed so it becomes occupied with tasks and activities.

In the past, very little information has been gathered concerning inherited health issues among Spanish Water Dogs. The United States and some European and Scandinavian Countries have recently been conducting health tests and keeping records. At this time, it appears that the biggest health issues in the breed are hip dysplasia and allergies. There have also been cases of glaucoma, prcd-PRA, Hypothyroid, Congenital Hypothyroid with Goiter and other potentially inherited defects among Spanish Water Dogs. Shyness has been a concern among the breed and there have been many reports of difficult temperaments in the breed. While the breed is known to be wary of strangers and protective of his family and property, shyness is not acceptable. Socialization can significantly improve a dog’s temperament, but it is not a substitute for proper breeding.

Behavior / temperament:
The Spanish Water Dog is faithful, obedient, lively, hard working, and watchful. He is highly intelligent with an outstanding learning ability. His loyalty and protective instincts make him a self-appointed guardian to his owner, his family, and his property. He should be neither timid nor shy, but is naturally suspicious of strangers. Properly introduced, and given time, the Spanish Water Dog will accept strangers. He is very affectionate with his own people.

Spanish Water Dogs must be socialized beginning very early in their life. The Spanish Water Dog puppy should be exposed to many different people, animals and situations.

Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise. The Spanish Water Dog should be provided tasks and new learning experiences to prevent it from becoming bored. The Spanish Water Dog thrives on human contact and are known to be "velcro" dogs. Although the Spanish Water Dog will make a good family dog, it will often attach itself to one member of the family.

SWDs can bark noisily, especially when strangers approach their homes and/or territory.

Breed description courtesy of the Spanish Water Dog Club.


intelligent dog, water sports, natural guarding instinct, great family dog


Congenital Hypothyroid, inexperienced dog owners, professional clippers


diligent training, herding, dock jumping, high energy dog

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