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  • Temperament: Playful but also Work-Oriented. Very Active and Upbeat.
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 162 of 194
  • Height: 17.5-19.75 inches (male), 15.75-18 inches (female)
  • Weight: 40-49 pounds (male), 31-40 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Spanish Water Dog sitting in three-quarter view
Spanish Water Dog standing sideways facing left on grass with a pine tree in the background
Spanish Water Dog head and shoulders facing left
Spanish Water Dog coat detail
Spanish Water Dog

Find a Puppy: Spanish Water Dog

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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.

HEAD

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.

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.

FOREQUARTERS

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.

HINDQUARTERS

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.

COAT

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. Disqualification – Smooth or wavy coat.

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spanish water dog illustration

About the Spanish Water Dog

The unique look of these inexhaustible workers begins with the coat. It’s naturally curly and wooly head to toe, and when grown out will often form tight, tapered cords. In full coat, the facial hair covers the expressive brown eyes. Colors can be black, brown, beige, white, or particolor (black, brown, beige, with white). “Rustic” is the word often used to describe the overall look of this sturdy dog of medium size (a male will stand a little under 20 inches at the shoulder).

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Spanish Water Dog

Find a Puppy: Spanish Water Dog

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Spanish Water Dog Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

While some owners do encounter occasional food allergies with their Spanish Water Dogs, the breed should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).Owners will want to consider the activity level of the dog when choosing the type of food and level of protein, fat, and so on. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. SWDs are also strong chewers and enjoy a substantial knuckle-bone from time to time, which may also help to keep their teeth clean.

GROOMING

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.

EXERCISE

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.

TRAINING

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. The temperament of the Spanish Water Dog deserves special consideration. 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.

HEALTH

Responsible breeders will screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia and eye anomalies. As with all breeds, the Spanish Water Dog’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, ideally every day, using a toothpaste formulated for dogs.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Spanish Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog

History

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 a dual-purpose breed, utilized as both a waterfowl retriever and a sheepherder.

Did You Know?

The Spanish Water Dog was eligible to compete in the Herding Group, beginning January 1, 2015.
At the April 2011 Board Meeting the Spanish Water Dog Club, Inc. will serve as the AKC Parent Club to represent the Spanish Water Dog.
At the May 2007 Board Meeting the Spanish Water Dog became eligible to compete in Companion Events effective January 1, 2008.
At the February 2014 board meeting the Spanish Water Dog Club of America became the official parent club for the Spanish Water Dog. The Spanish Water Dog became eligible for AKC registration December 1, 2014 and was eligible to compete in the Herding Group, beginning January 1, 2015. AKC will maintain an open registry for the breed until January 1, 2020.
At the October 2011 board meeting the group designation for the Spanish Water Dog changed from sporting to herding per a request from the Spanish Water Dog club.
At the July 2007 board meeting the Spanish Water Dog was approved to compete in AKC herding events for suffix titles effective January 1, 2008.
At the July 2011 board meeting the Spanish Water Dog was approved to compete in the Miscellaneous Class, effective June 27, 2012.
At the October 2005 board meeting two new breeds were added to the Foundation Stock Service Program - the Russell Terrier and Spanish Water Dog.

The Breed Standard

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.

HEAD

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.

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.

FOREQUARTERS

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.

HINDQUARTERS

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.

COAT

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. Disqualification – Smooth or wavy coat.

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spanish water dog illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Beige & White With Black Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 512
Beige & White With Brown Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 513
Beige With Black Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 510
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black & White Check Mark For Standard Color 019
Brown Check Mark For Standard Color 061
Brown & White Check Mark For Standard Color 063
White & Beige With Black Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 514
White & Beige With Brown Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 515
White & Black Check Mark For Standard Color 202
White & Brown Check Mark For Standard Color 204
White With Black Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 508
White With Brown Nose Check Mark For Standard Color 509

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Tan Points Check Mark For Standard Mark 029

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