View Spanish Water Dog Dogs and Puppies for sale on the Pets4Homes website.
The Spanish Water dog or Perro de Agua Español as it is known in Spain, is a medium-sized dog developed by herders to guard and move flocks of sheep. They have also been used in the field to accompany hunters and make excellent gundogs. The SWD has been used to assist fishermen too.
The Spanish Water Dog is known by many names including ‘Barbeta’, ‘Churro’ and ‘Perro Turco’. There are thought to have been water dogs on the Iberian coast for hundreds of years and the Spanish Water Dog and its Portuguese counterpart are related through these common, ancient ancestors.
In the Andalusian region of Southern Spain, the Spanish Water Dog was often referred to as the ‘Andalusian Turk’ as they were thought to have descended from animals brought to the country on sheep boats from Turkey, although experts are keen to point out that there were colonies of SWDs in Spain before the Turkish boats arrived in Spain.
These colonies were often populated by animals of slightly different types and sizes. For example, the examples identified in Northern parts of Spain – in the Cantabria and Asturias region - the dogs were smaller and lighter in colour and became a recognised breed; the Cantabrian Water Dog. Other types of water dog were found in western Andalusia and the sierras of southern Andalusia where its use for herding made a larger, more muscular dog. Most modern Spanish Water Dogs are a mix of these different types and display the characteristics of each type.
In 1975 a pair of SWD enthusiasts travelled through rural southern Spain to collect examples of the breed to establish a breeding programme. The pair, Santiago Montesinos and Antonio García Pérez were able to select the animals with the physique and traits they felt were most desirable in the breed and five years later, the Spanish Water Dog Club (Spain) was born.
In 1985 the breed was officially recognised by the Spanish Kennel Club, although it wasn’t permanently recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale for another 14 years. Accepted by the American Kennel Club in 2001, the SWD was championed by Jerry and Ken Mann, who were the first to show the dogs in the US and instigated the inaugural International discussion list. They were also the first people in America to use their Spanish Water Dog for herding. The breed is currently making its way through US Kennel Club shows, currently in the miscellaneous groups, however the SWD will eventually show in the herding category.
Average height to withers: 16” - 20”
Average weight: 14 – 22kg
A little longer than it is tall, the Spanish Water Dog is a well-muscled, robust and athletic dog. In the US the tail is normally docked, but an undocked tail is not considered a fault in the showring in America providing the animal originated in a country where docking is forbidden.
The head is large and the top of the skull is flat and should be virtually parallel with the muzzle. The nose, rims of the eyes and pads should always be the same colour as the darkest areas of the coat. The SWD boasts very expressive eyes which are dark brown, chestnut or hazel in colour; although this does depend on the colour of the coat. The ears are triangular in shape and set at a medium height.
The coat is perhaps the most distinctive attribute of the Spanish Water Dog. It’s curly and very woolly and can even form cords if it’s left to grow. There is no requirement for the SWD to be clipped or groomed for the showring and the coat should always look as natural as possible. The breed standard states the coat of the SWD should never be clipped, but sheared annually.
The coat comes in a number of colours including brown, black, bi-colour (the main colour should be white), beige, white or parti-colour. Any other colours are prohibited by the worldwide breed standard.
The SWD is an intelligent, loyal, loving and hard-working animal with exceptionally strong guarding and herding instinct. If they aren’t handled correctly they will appoint themselves leader of the pack so care should be taken when socialising and training them. The Spanish Water Dog’s natural athleticism means it lives to run and play and his hardworking nature means he will excel at any task you can give him.
Continued socialisation is needed with the SWD as he can be wary of strangers and needs encouragement to feel confident around new people and other animals. A consistent programme of socialisation and obedience training will also help the Spanish Water Dog live happily with children.
As a larger dog, the SWD can present with hip dysplasia – a condition which involves malformation of the hip joint which means that lameness, pain and dislocations are frequent. The breed also presents with progressive retinal atrophy, a disease which causes degeneration of the retina which eventually leads to blindness.
Hyperthyroidism is also seen in the breed occasionally and is characterised by weight gain, lethargy, constipation and dry skin. Some SWDs suffer with Addison’s Disease, a condition that is thought to be genetic and occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormones to support normal body function. Symptoms include muscle tremors and weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy.
Other illnesses affecting the Spanish Water Dog include cherry eye, allergies, cataracts and distichia.
The Spanish Water Dog is never happier than when it’s allowed to run and play so they do need lots of exercise. In the first year of life any exercise should be kept to a low level so no excess strain is placed on growing bones and joints. Once the dog has matured he will have limitless energy and will need two good walks per day with plenty of off-lead time.
Despite the fact they need lots of exercise, providing they are given plenty of physical activity they will adapt to almost any home environment and will thrive with the family.
Despite the thick, curly coat the Spanish Water Dog requires little or no grooming. Just an annual shear is all that’s required!