Join the Club!
The Spanish Water Dog Club of America is the AKC approved parent club for the breed and has been instrumental in ensuring the proper placement of the Spanish Water Dog into the herding group for 2015. If you are considering owning a SWD, you couldn’t be a part of a nicer group of folks on this side of the pond.-so please join up!
The Breed Standard
[Know what you re buying]
Spanish Water Dog, also known as Perro de Agua Español, Turco Andaluz, or Andalucian Turk.
Spanish Water Dogs are medium sized with a distinctive curly coat that may form cords when long. They are slightly longer than tall. The Spanish Water Dog is a multi-functional, all around farm dog. He is primarilly a versatile herding dog who was used to gather, drive and pen sheep, goat, and cattle in it’s native country (Spain) for centuries. Their natural ability is a derivative of the Spanish Water Dog’s instinct to read stock and situations and react appropriately. The SWD has also been used as an assistant to the fisherman. Some have used the Spanish Water Dog as a hunting dog, although there is no historical documentation about what or how they hunted. Many Spanish Water Dogs enjoy swimming and diving. They have webbed feet, like almost every other breed.
The Spanish Water Dog is a high energy dog best suited for an owner with an active lifestyle. They have strong herding and protective instincts, are very loyal to their owners and commonly wary with strangers. A Spanish Water Dog should never be shy or aggressive.
Spanish Water Dogs must be socialized beginning very early in their life. The Spanish Water Dog puppy should be exposed to many different people, animals and situations.
Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise. The Spanish Water Dog should be provided tasks and new learning experiences to prevent it from becoming bored. The Spanish Water Dog thrives on human contact and are known to be “velcro” dogs. Although the Spanish Water Dog will make a good family dog, it will often attach itself to one member of the family. Some Spanish Water Dogs are wary of men and prefer women.
The Spanish Water Dog is usually not appropriate for first time dog owners, but is better suited to someone with previous dog experience. He responds best to positive training methods. While they are good with children, the Spanish Water Dog, because of its strong herding instincts, might not be suitable for very young children. In addition to being intelligent and eager, as a breed they can be quirky, inventive, strong-willed, moody, territorial, and manipulative. They are driven to participate in as many family activities as possible. It is up to you to make this participation constructive. Dog performance activities such as herding, agility, obedience, tracking, water work, hunting and flyball can help provide the physical and mental exercise a Spanish Water Dog requires.
The Spanish Water Dog will sometimes herd anything that moves. While chasing cars can be disastrous for the dog, when misdirected towards children the Spanish Water Dog’s herding instinct can be problematic for the entire family. If the Spanish Water Dog decides that children are not obeying he might think that a nip is in order to discipline them. Many Spanish Water Dogs will react very quickly to stimulation, which can make them extremely sensitive to sudden sounds and movement
Male Spanish Water Dogs should be approximately: 44 to 50 cm (17.32 to 19.68
inches) tall at the withers, and between 18 to 22 kg (39.69 to 48.5 lbs) in weight.
Female Spanish Water Dogs should be approximately: 40 to 46 cm (15.75 to 18.11
inches) tall at the withers, and between 14 to 18 kg (30.86 to 39.69 lbs) in weight.
The Spanish Water Dog should be longer than it is tall. The following body ratios are a good rule of thumb for Spanish Water Dog proportions: Length of body/size (height at withers): 9/8; Depth of chest/size (height at withers): 4/8; and Length of muzzle/length of skull: 2/3.
The Spanish Water Dog has a curly non-shedding coat that may naturally form cords. While the Spanish Water Dog is a low dander hypo-allergenic dog, there is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog. People with severe allergies should spend time with a Spanish Water Dog before making one part of their family to see if they have an allergic reaction. Some allergy sufferers are also allergic to the saliva.
The Spanish Water Dog generally requires little grooming. The coat should never be brushed or combed. At least once a year, the coat must be evenly sheared from the entire body, very similar to shearing a sheep – twice per year is not uncommon. During the phase in which the Spanish Water Dog’s coat begins to cord, more work is required to assist proper cording and to prevent the cords from matting near the skin. When bathing, a light, non-astringent shampoo should be used. The coat should not be towel dried after bathing, but rather should be “blotted” and permitted to drip or air dry so coat properly cords. No aesthetic haircuts are permitted – the dog should remain rustic in appearance and always show curls even at the tapered tips of the cords.
Common Inherited Concerns:
In the past, very little information has been gathered concerning inherited health issues among Spanish Water Dogs. The United States and some European and Scandinavian Countries have recently been conducting health tests and keeping records . At this time, it appears that the biggest health issues in the breed are hip dysplasia and allergies. There have also been cases of glaucoma, prcd-PRA, Hypothyroid, Congenital Hypothyroid with Goiter and other potentially inherited defects among Spanish Water Dogs. Shyness has been a concern among the breed and there have been many reports of difficult temperaments in the breed. While the breed is known to be wary of strangers and protective of his family and property, shyness is not acceptable. Socialization can significantly improve a dog’s temperament, but it is not a substitute for proper breeding.
Where to get one
I would recommend that you purchase from a breeder that gives you a good written contract and subscribes to the code of ethics set forth for breeders by the Spanish Water Dog Club of America
. All of the breeders listed on the club website sign a paper related to that code. Do not purchase from someone that is not willing to register their pups with the AKC, or show you copies of any health certificates.
Casita de los Duendes kennel has an open health clearances policy with all of my dogs and any litters that we breed…….all of their health issues are open to discussion online and are publicly posted if the owners get them tested. We encourage new owners to get those tests done thru a rebate program.
Do your part as an Owner
Aside from general good health, the one crucial issue with this breed is socialization. I cannot emphasize that enough……both before and after you get your pup as well as continuing though out its lifetime. To make sure your SWD is well socialized, you and your family must be willing to take it right away to doggie school for basic manners and work hard at making sure it gets out in public very consistently. If you don’t think you can do these things, you might be better off with a different breed.
Basic animal training has changed drastically in the last 10-20 years. Spanish Water Dogs react excellently to the use of positive motivational based learning that’s taught at most dog schools, rather than an old fashioned use of aversives in learning. So if you think what worked for you many years ago is still the best way to train [i.e. using hard corrections, being a big scary pack leader and notions about a dog obeying because they “love you”], then a Spanish Water Dog may not be a good choice for you. Spanish Water Dogs are very smart and extremely easy to train when motivated. They will start offering behaviors very quickly and it will become your job as an owner to shape those behaviors into what you want. Remember, these are old fashioned farm dogs not fluffy sweet pushovers…….they are bred to think on the job.