Formerly a loyal and dependent working dog, Spanish Water Dogs are now awesome choices for family pets due to their loving, kind and relatively low-maintenance nature. Find out if they’re the ones for you.
Height: f4 – 50 cm
Weight: 18 – 22 kg
Lifespan: 10 – 14 years
Pedigree Breed (recognised by the Kennel Club?): Yes. In the Gundog Group.
Positives and Negatives of the Breed
- Independent and often able to be left alone
- Don’t bark much
- Love swimming
- Fun-loving and energetic
- Non-shed coats
- High exercise needs
- Need a lot of space
- Slightly aloof and boisterous
- Expensive and hard to locate good pups
Spanish Water Dogs are a lesser-known breed but are growing rapidly in popularity. Formerly a loyal and dependent working dog, Spanish Water Dogs are now awesome choices for family pets due to their loving, kind and relatively low-maintenance nature.
Since these dogs don’t shed, they are relatively good for those with pet allergies and represent a medium-sized dog that is compatible with the allergy-prone, which is quite rare.
Spanish Water Dogs look charming with their curly fluffy hair and come in many multi-colour patchy coats that bring out the charm of their twizzled hair.
Spanish Water Dogs are very intelligent and were bred for their superb ability to smell, see and hear during hunting sessions. As a gundog or pointer, their primary use in hunting was to retrieve game after it had been shot and killed.
The owner should be able to simply point towards prey to have the Spanish Water Dog retrieve. The Water Dog element of the name came from the fact this dog was found to excel at retrieving game over water.
Seabirds and waterfowl could be easily retrieved by a Spanish Water Dog which gave it its rather unique and niche role and name.
Actually, the Spanish Water Dog is thought to be an exceptionally old breed that dates back even to Roman times. This is a true working dog with supreme endurance, intelligence, and aptitude for a number of tasks.
It couples these fantastic traits with a loving and cuddly exterior form. You might even be fooled to think a Spanish Water Dog is dopey but they are anything but, they have amazing senses and adapt very well to complex environments.
Related: Learn about the Portuguese Water Dog next.
Like other ancient breeds, Spanish Water Dogs are highly independent and unlike many dogs, they cope well with separation and may enjoy spending time on their own in peace and quiet.
This obviously varies dog to dog, never assume your dog is fine being alone if they’re exhibiting destructive behaviour.
Spanish Water Dogs are fairly uncommon and though breeders are proliferating, it’s still pretty hard to get one in the UK and waiting lists are reasonably long.
Still, this means that existing dealers likely take their role and responsibility very seriously and take great care of their Spanish Water Dogs to ensure healthy Spanish Water Dog puppies.
You might think that a rather uncommon dog like this is quite modern but actually, Spanish Water Dogs are some of the oldest breeds in Europe.
They combine an intelligent dog with niche ability with a charming aesthetic and plenty of loyal devotion to owners, family and friends.
Spanish Water Dogs are a very old breed and may have been used throughout ancient Europe some 1500 or 2000 years ago.
They’ve long been highly prized in Spain and reportedly existed in ancient Turkey also where they accompanied sailors on boats.
The true ancestry of these dogs remains somewhat of a mystery, though, with debates centring around whether they have considerable Poodle DNA or whether their background is less definable, likely residing in various ancient tribal herding dogs.
Either way, the Spanish Water Dog has been bred for its superb ability and assistance to agriculturalists and hunters.
The Spanish Water Dog’s namesake and niche refers to its love for water and this remains true today, though the Spanish Water Dog is also a very able herding dog as well as a gundog near water.
Its thick layered coat helps keep it warm in the water and its ability to swim is pretty much unmatched by other dogs, the only competitor being the Portuguese Water Dog which is very similar in most ways.
An excellent scent also helps the Spanish Water Dog track dead prey over water, an ability which helped popularise it amongst sailors and fishermen on lakes and dry land.
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The Spanish Water Dog temperament is highly active and energetic with strong devotion and receptiveness to training and commands.
They are even-tempered, tolerant and measured, which makes them superb family pets. They love playing with adults, other dogs or children and are intelligent enough to show restraint with smaller animals like cats.
Ultimately, the Spanish Water Dog is a sporting dog and they’ll need to be treated as such. This means plenty of input from owners, exercise and work to train them doing things they enjoy.
They love interaction and are most comfortable when they have a strong established routine and role, much like they would in traditional use as a pastoral working dog.
Spanish Water Dogs are loving and cuddly too. They’re sociable and trusting and have a great tolerance for strangers their owners trust.
They are known to be quite quiet too and often restrain from barking similar to other types of hunting dogs – barking would scare off prey in this setting.
Spanish Water Dogs are also known to be highly content and independent which sometimes suits them well to quiet houses with few occupants. Still, this varies and any dog can suffer from separation anxiety.
Spanish Water Dogs are tough dogs with a decent lifespan ranging from 10 – 14 years, high for a medium-sized dog. They are active and the more exercise they do, the more you’ll need to focus on nutrition to keep them healthy.
As far as health problems go, there are few breeders of Spanish Water Dogs and breeders, therefore, do so out of a passion for the breed. This usually results in much healthier but smaller quantities of dogs.
That said, health problems are still possible including hip dysplasia for which hip scoring will be required.
Spanish Water Dogs also commonly suffer from sight problems including Progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma. In later life, eye problems and hearing problems can develop and arthritis is common the same as in most older dogs.
Next Breed: Hungarian Vizslas are very handsome dogs with an awesome history as gundogs used for hunting purposes.
Spanish Water Dogs are highly inquisitive, investigative and love to roam. They need a lot of exercise and as much of it off the lead as possible. Open spaces are brilliant and you’ll notice your Water Dog’s exploratory character.
Needless to say that your Spanish Water Dog will likely jump at the chance to get in some water which is great if you can access relatively calm ponds, rivers and shorelines, but caution must be exercised in stormy or other torrid conditions.
Spanish Water Dogs do like to express themselves in natural environments and they’re well suited to outdoorsy types.
After all, this dog has a long and illustrious history of use alongside farmers and hunters and it carries many of these instincts with it still today.
Gardens with reliably fenced sides are ideal to allow a Spanish Water Dog to relax outside whenever it needs to – these dogs will not enjoy being cooped up inside all the time.
As gundogs and herding dogs, Spanish Water Dogs have a high work rate and desire to please their owners.
As such, they are generally easy to train. Socialising a Spanish Water Dog puppy from a young age is crucial to building its confidence but generally, these dogs slot in very well with family units that include other dogs, pets or children.
Spanish Water Dogs are obedient and enjoy commands from their owners but they do have a strong tendency to wander off and roam so teaching them a strong ‘recall’ command early on is very useful.
Fortunately, such commands are well received by the Spanish Water Dog. Due to its free-roaming nature, lead training using a harness is advised to prevent pulling.
Spanish Water Dogs do get bored easily despite their independence so you’ll have to put some time into finding awesome toys that they love and can play with when you’re not around.
You might have to go through a couple of different ones before finding the ideal toy for your Spanish Water Dog.
Lastly, because of their forage-based free-roaming behaviours, Spanish Water Dogs may adapt poorly to eating from a dog bowl, in turn making them eat too quickly leading to poor digestion. Consider using a foraging mat to reduce consumption rates.
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Spanish Water Dogs have relatively short coats but they’re composed of thick twists and curls that trap a lot of dirt.
Grooming is imperative to keep them clean and soft and you’ll need to spend time pulling the curls apart to keep them from getting too dense.
It’s also possible that splinters and thorns trapped in a Water Dog’s skin may remain hidden and thus, carefully checking them over periodically is a must.
They have fluffy ears which need to be cleaned often to prevent build-ups of wax that may lead to intrusive infections.
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