The Spanish Water Dog is an ancient breed. Its exact origins are debated, but it is known that a woolly coated water dog inhabited the Iberian Peninsula around 1110 AD. It is possible that Turkish merchants brought the dog into Spain and traded it to Spanish farmers and shepherds. By the 18th century, the water dog was being used throughout Spain to herd goats and sheep. At the time of the industrial revolution, northern Spanish shepherds began replacing the water dog with German and Belgian shepherds. Fisherman in the north continued to use the dogs to help reel in nets. In southern Spain shepherds continued to use the water dog particularly in the mountain areas where it was well suited and is still used today as it has been for a thousand years.
The Spanish Water Dog is medium sized, athletic dog with a woolly, curly coat that forms cords when long. Males are slightly taller and heavier than females. The nose, eye-rims and paw pads are the same colour as the darkest part of the coat or darker.
It may be black, beige, brown, white or bicolour where the second colour is white (brown and white or black and white). Tri-coloured dogs are strictly prohibited by the currently held (worldwide) standards for the breed as are black and tan or brown and tan colour combinations. The tails are usually docked in the USA and other countries that permit it.
The breed is loyal and affectionate and has very strong herding and guarding instincts. They thrive on work and other activities and are natural born swimmers. Grooming requirements are minimal. The dog should never be brushed, but instead as the cords grow they should be checked for matting and gently pulled apart without tearing the cords. If matting is too extensive, the entire cords should be sheered off. The entire coat should be sheered once a year. Eyes and ears should be cleaned whenever they look dirty and the nails should be clipped. If the coat is dirty the dog may be bathed in warm water with a very neutral shampoo, then allowed to air dry. They’re a great family dog if socialized at an early age and given plenty of exercise.