Meet the Breed: The Spanish Water Dog



  • Height: "16 - 20”
  • Weight: 30-49 pounds
  • Historical function: Herding, fisherman's helper, retriever
  • Modern function: Farm dog, companion
  • AKC classification: Herding Group; AKC recognized in 2015

Physical Characteristics:

The Spanish Water Dog is medium sized with a distinctive curly non-shedding coat that may form cords when long and is designed to have a rustic appearance. They are slightly longer than tall. The head is broad and flat with drop ears. The eyes are alert, expressive in shades of brown. The muzzle is parallel to the top of the skull with a slight stop. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite, with scissors being preferred. The neck is short and muscular. The topline is even. The tail has traditionally been docked though some are born with a natural bobbed tail. The chest is broad and deep and the body is muscular. Coat colors include white, black, brown in all shades as well as bicolored with white being the secondary color. Bi-colored dogs without white are not admitted nor are tricolored. 

History of the Breed:

The Spanish Water Dog goes by several names including Perro de Agua Español, Turco Andaluz, or Andalucian Turk. Although called a water dog, unlike the Portuguese Water Dog (with whom they share a common ancestor), the Spanish Water Dog is primarily a herding farm dog, rather than primarily a fisherman's assistant. This medium-sized, hard-working dog's history is debated but has been documented for over 800 years. They were used as herders, drovers, as watchdogs, for hunting, retrieving, guards and vermin controllers in mines, to tow boats and retrieve nets. 


The Spanish Water Dog is an active, intelligent dog that is hard working and eager to serve in many capacities, be it herding, guarding, hunting or even bomb detection. They are loyal to their owners and tend to be wary of strangers. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement methods and is suitable for any sport that challenges them both mentally and physically including obedience, flyball and agility training. They are very devoted to their family but may gravitate to one person in particular. They require early socialization and are not recommended for novice dog owners. This breed enjoys children but must be trained not to herd them as they may try to nip at their heels to control a running child. 

  • Best suited for: Active families. Farm work. Can live in an apartment if given sufficient mental and physical exercise. May be a good choice for allergy sufferers. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog does best with a job and daily activity. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The non-shedding coat requires little grooming and a rough, natural look is desired. The coat should never be brushed or combed. At least once a year, the coat must be evenly sheared from the entire body. Blot and air dry after baths. 
  • Exercise needs: Daily long walk or jog. Requires daily mental exercise as well.  
  • Life expectancy: 10-14 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to hip dysplasia, PRA, allergies and thyroid disease. Use a reputable breeder. 

Breed Club Links: Spanish Water Dog Club Perfect Pairings: Agility Starter Kit

Have any stories about a Spanish Water Dog? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

This entry was posted by Mary.
Brinkley on November 17 at 5:50 PM said:

I think this is a Portuguese Water Dog...not a Spanisih Water Dog
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