Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Spanish Water Dog
Average Cost to keep/care for a Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish Water Dog is one of the lesser known breeds here in the UK, although their numbers are slowly rising with more pedigree puppies being bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. The SWD is a medium sized dog that boasts having a distinct and attractive corded coat that covers their entire body. They are intelligent dogs with a tremendous amount of stamina which is one of the reasons they have always been so highly prized for their sporting abilities. However, the Spanish Water Dog is just as happy in the home environment and thrives on being part of family which makes them a great choice as a family pet thanks to their kind and loyal natures.
The actual origins of the Spanish Water Dog are a bit of a mystery, but they are believed to be one of the oldest breeds on the planet. These handsome dogs were first bred to herd sheep in their native Spain, but they proved themselves to be extremely good at retrieving game on water and land too which soon led to them being highly prized in their native Spain.
It is thought the breed was created using the Poodle as one of its founding breeds and that the Portuguese Water Dog may even be related to the SWD and they may well share the same ancestry. 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 boats from Turkey, although experts are keen to point out that there were colonies of SWDs in Spain before Turkish traders arrived in Spain.
It was not until 1975 that breed enthusiasts travelled through southern Spain in search of examples of the breed with an end goal being to establish a breeding programme. Their endeavours led to the creation of the Spanish Water Dog we see today. 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. These lovely dogs are recognised as a unique breed by The Kennel Club here in the UK and more examples of the SWD are being exhibited at dog shows today than ever before.
However, the Spanish Water Dog remains relatively unknown here in the UK with very few puppies being bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year, although their numbers are slowly rising. As such, anyone wishing to share a home with a SWD would need to register their interest with reputable breeders and go on a waiting list.
Height at the withers: Males 44 - 50 cm, Females 40 - 46 cm
Average weight: Males 18 - 22 kg, Females 14 - 18 kg
The Spanish Water Dog is a charming looking, medium sized dog that boasts a wonderfully corded coat. They have very elegant heads with just a slight hint of a stop. Their skulls are rather flat between the ears and dogs don't have a very prominent occiput. They have wide open nostrils with the corners of their lips being well defined. Their eyes are a nice oval shape and medium in size with dogs having a very kind and expressive look in them. They are set well apart and slightly obliquely on a dog's face and can be either a nice hazel or dark brown colour depending on the colour of a dog's coat.
Their ears are V-shaped being slightly rounded at the tips, medium in size and set just above the level of a dog's eyes. They drop down which dogs hold slightly forward when alert or excited. The Spanish Water Dog has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are quite short, but muscular with no dewlap and set nicely into a dog's shoulders. Front legs are well muscled, straight and strong without showing too much bone.
The SWD has a compact body and a nice level backs that’s slightly higher at the wither. Chests are deep and ribs well sprung with briskets reaching down to a dog's elbows. Hindquarters are powerful with dogs having strong back legs with well-muscled first and second thighs. Feet are tight and round in shape with strong paw pads and toe nails that match the colour of a dog's coat. Tails are medium set and taper to the tip. Dogs carry their tails low, in the shape of a scimitar when at rest, but raised when excited or alert.
When it comes to their coat, the Spanish Water Dog boasts a striking corded coat which has a very wool-like texture. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
The Spanish Water Dog boasts having a tremendous sense of smell, sight and sound. As such they are true working dogs that enjoy nothing more than being out and about in the great outdoors. They are intelligent and sensitive by nature being just at ease in a home environment as they are working in the field. They form strong bonds with their owners and families and are known to be even-tempered dogs which is just one of the reasons they make such great family pets.
They are also known to have a very enthusiastic personality which sees these dogs being ultra-willing and eager to please. However, puppies have to be well socialised from a young enough age for them to mature into well-rounded, obedient adult dogs. They are a great choice for families where the children are slightly older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. Spanish Water Dogs tend to be a little aloof and wary of people they don't already know, but rarely would one of these dogs ever show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know someone.
They are not the best choice for first time owners because a Spanish Water Dog needs to be handled and trained by someone who is familiar with this type of sporting dog and their specific needs. However, in the right hands, these striking dogs can be trained to be obedient dogs with particular attention being paid to the "recall" command. They are never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. They also need to know what an owner expects of them which in short, means their training has to be consistent and always fair right from the start and then throughout a dog’s life.
As their name suggests, SWDs love being in water and are naturally strong swimmers which means care has to be taken when walking them anywhere near more dangerous water courses just in case they decide to jump in.
The Spanish Water Dog is an intelligent character, but they do have a bit of a "wandering off" streak in them which is why it's so important to teach these dogs a strong "recall" command from a very young age. With this said, socialising them from a young enough age is extra important and their training also has to start too. It's best to teach a SWD the basics when they are still puppies and to start their training in earnest as soon as they have been fully vaccinated and slightly older.
Being sensitive dogs by nature, a Spanish Water Dog does not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavy handed training methods. The key to successfully training them is to use positive reinforcement and to make a training session as interesting as possible. It’s best to keep things nice and short without too much repetition which helps keep a Spanish Water Dog more focussed on what is being asked of them which as a result achieves the best results.
Spanish Water Dogs make great family pets in households where the children are older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. With this said, any interaction between younger children or toddlers and an SWD should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm.
If they have grown up with a family cat in the house, they usually get on well together, however, a Spanish Water Dog would not hesitate in chasing any other cats they don't know. Care has to be taken when they are around any other smaller animals and pet, just in case.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Spanish Water Dog is between 10 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the SWD is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active, handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Spanish Water Dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Spanish Water Dog has a medium length coat that's made up of lots of cords or wooly curls which offers them a tremendous amount of protection from the elements. However, they are low maintenance in the grooming department although their coats do tend to pick up brambles and other debris all too easily which have to be removed sooner rather than later. As their cords grow, they need to be gently pulled apart so they don't get too big. They don’t shed which is another great thing about a Spanish Water Dog's coat and which makes them a good choice for anyone who suffers from allergies, although the dander a dog sheds can also trigger an allergic reaction in people too.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Spanish Water Dog is an intelligent, high energy character and one that needs to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded, obedient dogs. This means giving them at least 60 minutes exercise a day and more if possible which has to include lots of "off the lead" time so they can really express themselves.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these energetic and lively dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, SWD puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a SWD puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Spanish Water Dog, you would need to register your interest with breeders and go on a waiting list because not many puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything from £400 to over £600 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Spanish Water Dog in northern England would be £26.85 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £61.72 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a SWD and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1200 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Spanish Water Dog would be between £80 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.
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