The Spanish Water Dog loves to work. This powerful, multi-purpose medium size breed was a Spanish shepherd’s best friend.
And while most people in Spain know full well about the SWD — The breed is rather new to the outside world. Except the breed has been around for quite some time and was kept a secret for so many years.
Give them work, exercise and love — and you will have a friend for life.
So what’s the story behind the breed. What makes them such a wonderful pet?
Here is what you need to know about the Spanish Water Dog.
The Spanish Water Dog is an ancient breed. Except, nobody is quite sure how ancient the breed truly is. There is one idea that the Spanish Water Dog derives from a certain North African wooly coat dog and was brought by the Moors to the Iberian Peninsula around 710 to 1036. This is according to the United Kennel Club. It is also possible that the breed was brought to Europe by invaders during the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear a clear answer will come anytime soon, considering the breed’s recluse past.
That said, there is some general agreement that the breed has been around since at least 1100. And that the Spanish Water Dog was a shepherd’s helper. Moreover, the Spanish Water Dog would work in herding livestock such as goat and sheep. But it wasn’t just as a drover that the breed could excel doing. Indeed, the Water Dog was also a capable hunting dog, mostly an upland hunter. But there was more, which is where the name comes in — the Spanish Water Dog was a waterfowl retriever and fisherman assistant — usually tugging equipment and tackle out of the water but also serving as a companion on the boat.
So, you may be asking yourself: When did the breed have any down time? It appears that farmers, hunters and fisherman all had a need within the breed. This is what would help the breed flourish in rural areas in Spain. And for centuries, it would stay that, out of fear for interbreeding practices.
There wasn’t a lot of activity outside of Spain until the latter end of the 20th century. Thanks to the father of the breed, who took an interest, Antonio Garcia Perez. It was Perez that put the Spanish Water Dog on the map. He was the man responsible for getting the breed recognition with the FCI in 1985.
In America, the breed wouldn’t gain recognition until 2004, when the United Kennel Club made the decision to grant acceptance. Furthermore, the breed was first part of the gun dog group until finding their way in the herding group in 2013. The largest kennel, the American Kennel Club, gave the breed recognition in 2015. Today, the breed still works the fields, ashore and along the pastures. Although unknown in the United States, for the most part, the breed is working on its reputation. The American Kennel lists the breed as the 148th most popular breed moving up 14 spots from 2016’s 162 ranking.
This high energy and authoritative dog is a medium size breed. According to the American Kennel Club, a male should stand between 17.5 inches to 19.75 inches. A female should stand between 15.75 inches to 18 inches.
With regards to weight, a male should weigh between 40 to 49 pounds. A female should range between 31 to 40 pounds.
The dog that can do it all or close to it. This a multi dimensional breed, that you can take anywhere with you. One because they have wonderful stamina, and two, because this an ultimate friendly dog. They literally get along with just about everyone and everything. The Spanish Water Dog can be an alert watchdog, guard your property and be attentive with their reputable problem solving skills. Or, you can send them out to sniff out a hunting trail, or to the water, where they enjoy getting wet and swimming.
As puppies, they are upbeat but tend to remain mostly that way into their adult life. This is an easy to train breed that is fairly smart and willing to please. Clearly, in Spain, the farmers and sportsmen found them to be heavily reliable, which to this day, the breed remains.
A Spanish Water Dog shouldn’t be shy or aggressive. They should be lively, loving, and affectionate with family. They should be open to giving anyone a chance for as long as they don’t attempt to threaten family or hurt someone they care for.
With dogs, they are amazing. Children will adore them as the breed adores children back. This is a faithful breed, and whatever you need, they will be right by your side to make sure you get it.
All in all, a Spanish Water Dog is a breed you can acquaint into your neighborhood easily. They’ll get along with the neighbor’s dogs and love your kids. They love to work, and work, they do so with persistence. After a said long day, they know how to turn it off and be the true companion you need after a long work day.
The Spanish Water Dog has some health issues that should scare you and keep you on guard, but for the most part — The breed appears to be healthy. When you buy your SWD from a breeder, make sure you purchase from a reputable breeder. This breeder should be able to provide you with the health clearances and documents you need to make the best purchasing decision. In addition, you should schedule routine visits with your veterinarian to ensure you dog’s good health. If you do that, then there’s no reason to believe that your Spanish Water Dog won’t live between 12 to 14 years.
A malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, discomfort and lameness, Hip Dysplasia, is quite apparent with the Spanish Water Dog. In fact, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ranks them as the 28th worst on their list of over 100 breeds. This puts them among the ranks of the Newfoundland, Chow Chow and English Shepherd. The breed has a staggering 24.5 dysplastic rate out of 184 evaluations.
Abnormal growth in the elbow, Elbow Dysplasia, has been seen with this breed. Elbow Dysplasia can cause pain, lameness and discomfort as well. It can also progress into other orthopedic problems like osteoarthritis if left untreatred.
The Spanish Water Dog has the fourth worst thyroid statistics, according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This puts them in the company of the Shetland Sheepdog and the Eurasier as well as the English Setter. Out of the 93 evaluations, the SWD had only a 80.6 normal rating with an equivocal of 5.4 and a 14.0 autoimmune thyroiditis rating.
The breed can also suffer from a condition that can be fatal. Leishmaniasis is a disease that has two form; Skin and organ. This is due to an infection from sandflies transmitting a parasite into the host’s skin. The sandflies exist where the breed comes from. Central and South America, Europe and Asia. Leishmaniasis can last between only a few months to years. The disease can spread to important part of the body including the organs. According to the Spanish Water Dog Club of United Kingdom, the common cause of death is kidney failure. A few symptoms include: leisions and weight loss.
The breed may also suffer from Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Glaucoma. Both issues that can lead to blindness.
For the Spanish Water Dog to be happy, you’ll need to entertain them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Plenty of exercise or a good daily run should do the trick. They love to swim and enjoy being outdoors. You can bring this breed to a dog park and not worry about fights with other dogs. To break any potential destructive habits at home, make sure they get ample amount of exercise as this is a high energy breed.
As the profile claims above, this is a working dog, that needs a role or a job. This is where they shine at their best.
While the Spanish Water Dog is good with children, it is important to supervise the encounters. A dog with herding traits may play too rough or try to herd a smaller child. This could cause injury if you aren’t carefully watching. The breed does have a high prey drive as well. That means, they are bound to chase something they find appealing. It’s important to put up a secure fence or put the dog on the leash. It may be wise to avoid smaller animals into the home like mice, birds, etc.
Early socialization will help the Spanish Water Dog with their hesitation with strangers. It’ll also make them much more friendlier around other dogs.
Brush teeth regularly, check their ears for any kind of bacterial buildup and clip their nails monthly to help prevent split nails and overgrowth.
Not all dogs will eat the same amount of food. How much your Spanish Water Dog eats will depend on their age, metabolism and energy rate. That said, like any other breed, your SWD should be getting a high quality formula. Meat should be the first ingredient. This is a high energy breed that will require plenty of quality protein value, quality crude fat and calories.
Most experts and owners seem comfortable feeding their Spanish Water Dog between 1.5 cups to 2 cups of top quality dry food. You can portion that into two meals to help prevent Bloat or Gastric Torsion.
Due to the breed’s problems with food allergies, or potential issues with food allergies, it is always wise to consult first with your veterinarian before making any purchasing decisions.
As always, you should provide your Spanish Water Dog with fresh drinking water.
A Spanish Water Dog is ideal for someone who is sensitive to pet dander. This is as close to a hypoallergenic breed as it comes.
The breed has cords on their coat that will take months to grow and as the American Kennel Club suggests — Never brush the SWD’s coat. Clipping is a matter of preference of your SWD’s coat length.
You may need to inquire about the services of a professional groomer especially if you lack experience with a coat like this one. Moreover, the Spanish Water Dog has a single, curly or wooly coat. It should be dense and it should cover the body and head with hair covering their eyes.
According to the American Kennel Club, there are 13 acceptable coat color options: Beige & White with brown nose, beige 7 white with black nose, beige with black nose, black, black and white, brown, brown and white, white & beige with black nose, white and beige with brown nose, white and black, white and brown, white with black nose, white with brown nose.
There is only one acceptable coat marking for the breed: Tan points.
While the breed is relatively new to the rest of the world, the Spanish Water Dog has been around for a long day. And they’ve been earning their keep for quite some time.
If you’re a fan already, there’s some good news, this workaholic dog continues to grow in popularity in America.
Furthermore, the amount of work they are capable of doing, and their bubbly and bright demeanor at home, look for the Spanish Water Dog to continue building up their name for years to come.