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The versatile Spanish Water Dog has been a fixture of the Iberian Peninsula’s lakes and meadows for so long that we’re not quite sure how it got there. One theory suggests it was brought from North Africa by the Moors who once occupied Spain. Another posits that the breed was introduced to Spain by Turkish traders, hence its old nickname “The Turkish Dog.” The Spanish Water Dog was always been a dual-purpose breed, utilized as both a waterfowl retriever and a sheepherder.

Spanish Water Dogs: Available Pets


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 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.


In addition to being intelligent and eager, as a breed they can be quirky, inventive, strong-willed, moody, territorial, and manipulative. Early training, for 2 years is recommended.


This is a clever breed that needs a "job" to do. Consistent training is absolutely necessary for the first couple of years.


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.


These dogs are very loyal to their owners but can be quite wary of strangers. Ongoing socialization as well as positive new experiences are essential from an early age.

Spanish Water Dogs: List




17.5-19.75 inches (male), 15.75-18 inches (female)



40-49 pounds (male), 31-40 pounds (female)



12-14 years

Spanish Water Dogs: List


A rustic breed of the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish Water Dog is a sturdy, medium sized, well proportioned, athletic dog that is suited to perform a variety of tasks including herding, hunting, and assisting fishermen. He is a loyal, vigilant, and intelligent working dog with strong herding instincts. His working ability is attributed to an intense desire to please. In profile, the Spanish Water Dog is slightly longer than tall. He has a distinctive curly coat, which is adapted to the variation of humidity and drought of his homeland.


This is a highly intelligent and active (both mentally and physically) breed. They thrive on the problem-solving nature of positive training using a clicker or similar training style. SWDs are extremely biddable and willing to please and are showing themselves to be highly capable and very versatile. Harsh training methods may cause the SWD to lose his enthusiasm for the tasks asked of him, and he may “shut down.” Potential owners are reminded that as herding dogs, some SWDs have a very high prey drive. They need a reliable recall. Even with diligent training, some will not be able to resist the temptation of a squirrel, rabbit, or deer.


While the Spanish Water Dog are relatively healthy breeds, there are some issues that the SWD have, just like all other breeds. The main problems seen in the breed are hip dysplasia and allergies. We have successfully partnered with Life’s Abundance to combat allergies with tremendous success!

The other problems appear to occur less frequently. Other conditions that may be seen in the breed include exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, Addison’s disease, congenital hypothyroidism with goiter, myasthenia gravis and seizures. 

Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens they can find, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in many cases the dogs can still live good lives.  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. Because these dogs are (as a general rule) active and energetic as puppies, they may seriously injure themselves from too much running and jumping when their skeletal structure is still developing so be careful to not allow running or jumping before they are 2 years old. 


Spanish Water Dogs benefit from a good run at least once a day. Once they have reached full maturity and the bone growth plates are closed, they have the capacity for lengthy, strenuous exercise and make great companions for activities such as running, hiking, or snow-shoeing. With their moderate size and natural athleticism, they enjoy being active, but they also have a good “off switch” for more settled time at home. SWDs are usually strong swimmers, and playing fetch in the water is a great way to burn off energy without the risk of injury that repetitive impact through retrieving on land can cause.


Spanish Water Dogs are prone to allergies. We have partnered with Life’s Abundance with amazing success! You can find our products here: 


The most important basic guidelines for a properly groomed Spanish Water Dog are that the coat is never to be brushed, and it should be the same length all over. Frequency of clipping is up to the owner’s preference for the length of hair on their dog, with some owners choosing to let it grow for many months to form cords. While the breed is typically described as having a low-maintenance coat, the cording process does take ongoing attention and some expertise. Because the cording process for this breed is different from that of other corded breeds (such as the Komondor or Bergamasco), owners wanting to undertake this for the first time are encouraged to find someone experienced with Spanish Water Dog coats. The breed’s national parent club, the Spanish Water Dog Club of America, has members on its e-mail list who are always willing to give advice and help.

Spanish Water Dogs: List


General Appearance:

A rustic breed of the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish Water Dog is a sturdy, medium sized, well proportioned, athletic dog that is suited to perform a variety of tasks including herding, hunting, and assisting fishermen. He is a loyal, vigilant, and intelligent working dog with strong herding instincts. His working ability is attributed to an intense desire to please. In profile, the Spanish Water Dog is slightly longer than tall. He has a distinctive curly coat, which is adapted to the variation of humidity and drought of his homeland. 

​Size, Proportion, Substance: 

Size - Height at the withers: Dogs, 17½ to 19¾ inches; Bitches, 15¾ to 18 inches. Weight - In proportion to height.
Proportions - Measured from point of shoulder to buttocks and withers to the ground 9:8. 
Substance - Solidly built, robust, muscular with moderate bone but neither coarse nor refined. 


Head is in balance with the body. Expression is alert and attentive. 

Eyes are slightly oblique, very expressive and have a shade of brown from hazel to dark chestnut, with the color harmonizing with the coat. 
Ears are set at medium height at eye level. They are drooping and triangular in shape with slightly rounded tips. The tips should not reach past the inside corner of the eye. 
Skull is broad and flat. Occiput is not prominent. Ratio of cranium to muzzle is 3:2. Stop is apparent but not abrupt. Muzzle is wide at the base, tapering slightly to a rounded tip. Cheeks are well filled below the eyes. Planes of skull and muzzle are parallel. 
Nose is of the same color or slightly darker than the darkest color of the coat and has well defined nostrils. Beige or white dogs may have either black or brown pigment. Lips are well fitting, labial corners well defined and are pigmented as the nose. Flews are tight. 
Scissors bite preferred, level bite accepted. Teeth are strong with full dentition. 

Neck, Topline and Body

Neck is in proportion to the length of the body; strong and slightly arched, blending smoothly into the shoulders. 
Topline is straight. Body is robust. The body is slightly longer than tall in an approximate ratio of nine to eight measured from the point of shoulder to the point of buttocks. The length of the back comes from the length of the ribcage, not from that of the loin. 
Chest is broad and well let down, reaching at least the elbows. Ratio of depth of chest to height at withers is 50 percent of the height. Ribs are well sprung.
Tuck-up is slight. Back is straight and powerful. 
Loin is short. Croup is slightly sloping. 
Tail is set smoothly into the croup neither high nor low. Traditionally docked between the second and fourth vertebra, some are born with a naturally bobbed tail which can range from almost no tail to almost a full tail. Preference is not to be given to docked or undocked tails. 
Skin is supple, fine and adheres closely to the body.


Shoulders are well-muscled and well-laid back and approximately the same length as the upper arm. The upper arm and scapula form approximately a 90-degree angle. Elbows are close to the chest and turn neither in nor out. 
Legs are straight, and strong with moderate bone. Pasterns are strong and flexible. Front dewclaws may be removed. Feet are round and compact. Toes are tight and well arched 


The hindquarters give an impression of strength and energetic impulsion. Angulation is in balance with the front. Upper thigh is well muscled. Stifle is well bent. Second thigh is well developed. Hock joint is well let down. Rear pastern is short and perpendicular to the ground. Dewclaws if present are to be removed. Feet are as the front. 


The Spanish Water Dog may be solid (in its various shades of black, brown, beige, or white) or parti-color where the second color is white. 


The hair is a single coat, always curly and of a wooly texture. It is never brushed or combed and is shown either in natural curls or in rustic cords with tapered tips. The ends of the cords usually show a curl. The entire body, including the head, should be well covered with hair. In full coat, the hair will cover the eyes. Clipped subjects are allowed, the clipping always complete and even, never to become an "aesthetic" grooming. Minimal hygienic trimming is allowed but should not be noticeable on presentation. For shows, the recommended extended length of the coat is between 1 inch and 5 inches to demonstrate the quality of the curl or cord. Any brushing, aesthetic trimming, or sculpting of the coat that alters natural appearance is to be severely penalized. Traditionally, the Spanish Water Dog was sheared one time per year (with the sheep), the same length all over.


Movement is free, smooth, effortless, and ground covering. Balance combines good reach in forequarters with front foot reaching the nose, and strong drive in the rear. As speed increases, the feet converge toward the centerline of gravity of the dog while the back remains firm and level. 


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. 


Parti-colored, where the second color is not white. Tri color, tan point. Smooth or wavy coat.

Approved April 10, 2012 Effective June 27, 2012  

Spanish Water Dogs: Text
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