Spanish Water Dog Breed

Black & White Spanish Water Dog Brown
  • Other names:
  • Perro De Agua Espanol
  • Turco Andaluz
  • Turkish Dog

The Spanish Water Dog, also known as the Perro de Agua Español, is a true working-class dog native to Spain. Instantly recognizable by their rustic "corded" coats, these dogs are focused, task-oriented animals that are sometimes jokingly referred to as "canine control freaks"; their strong herding instinct often causes them to herd everything and everybody in sight. Even so, with proper training and early socialization, SWDs will be affable, gentle family companions for the experienced owner.

Spanish Water Dog Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred10-14 yrs.16-20 in.30-50 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are the details and specs for the Spanish Water dog.

Spanish Water Dog Breed Description

A medium-sized breed. Weight for males is 40-50 pounds, and 30-40 pounds for females; height at the shoulders is 17-20 inches for males, 16-18 inches for females.

A SWD is true to its working-class roots, in that it is focused, intelligent, and at times domineering. A well-trained SWD is great to its family (though probably not to anyone else), but because of its powerful herding instinct, may try to control children and other pets. These dogs are recommended only for experienced dog owners.

A low-maintenance breed, the SWD needs almost no grooming, very little training, but plenty of exercise.

Spanish Water Dog Breed History

The Spanish Water Dog has existed in Europe for centuries, and its early presence is known on the Iberian Peninsula, a region of Southwestern Europe that includes Spain and Portugal. The SWD's exact origin is unknown; scholars debate whether an early variant of this breed came from Africa, Asia, or even Turkey. Whatever the case, a breed presumed to be the SWD was mentioned in historical Spanish literature as early as the 1100s. Through the centuries, the SWD was used in Spain as a working dog in a variety of capacities, including herding livestock, guarding fishing nets, small game hunting, and later as a guard dog in mineral mines.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Spain during the 18th and 19th centuries, the need for these working dogs decreased dramatically, and by the early 1900s the SWD was on the verge of extinction. Revival of the breed, through an aggressive selective breeding program, began in Spain in the 1970s, and in 1985 the SWD was recognized by the Real Sociedad Canina de España, Spain's official dog breed organization. In the U.S., the SWD was recognized by the AKC in 2015. Today, though a bit rare outside Spain, this breed can be found in most parts of the world.

Spanish Water Dog Appearance

The SWD's single coat is long, curly, and is often "corded" at its full length. This breed's body is a bit greater in length than in height. The head is ovoid in shape, the eyes are a bit slanted and exist in varying shades of brown, and the ears are medium-sized, hanging, and triangular in shape with slightly rounded tips. The chest is broad, the shoulders and thighs are muscular, and the legs are straight and strong. The medium-length tail is high-set, curved, and is usually docked to a quarter of its length.

Spanish Water Dog Coloring

These dogs exist in solid colors including black, brown, white, or beige; some may be bi-colored, where the secondary color is normally white.

Spanish Water Dog Size

The SWD is a medium-sized breed. Height at the shoulders for males is 17-20 inches; females, 16-18 inches. Weight for males is 40-50 pounds; females, 30-40 pounds.

Average Adult Height

16-20 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

30-50 lbs

Spanish Water Dog Variations

Genetically speaking, the Spanish Water Dog, or Turkish Dog, sees little variation among individual dogs of the breed. There are some variations in coat length--but the differences are actually man-made. Many SWD owners will shear their dog's long, corded fur to half its length or more, so as not to interfere with its work activities (also to keep the long fur from becoming too dirty). People who show their SWDs prefer the coats at full length..

SWD size, too, is fairly consistent from dog to dog: most average 18 inches at the shoulders in height, and 40 pounds in weight. This is considered medium size so those seeking big Turkish dogs should consider another breed. While miniature Spanish Water Dogs do exist, they are rare; those dogs are usually the runts of a litter, and are not considered a distinct subtype of the breed.

Spanish Water Dog Temperament

Intelligent, loyal, protective, and diligent, the SWD is a lively, alert breed that is extremely task-oriented. Due to their breeding as working dogs, SWDs are apt to focus solely on whatever has their attention – often to the detriment of other animals and people. Though extremely loyal to its human family, this breed can tend towards dominant behavior, and is sometimes referred to as a "canine control freak." These dogs also startle easily, and will react quickly to most sudden sounds and movement. A SWD has a strong herding instinct, and thus may try to "herd" children, people on bicycles, and even cars; this breed's bossy behavior, experts say, makes it more suitable to experienced dog owners. But with early socialization and consistent training, the experts add, a SWD will be affectionate and friendly, and if raised from puppyhood will make a great family addition.

Additionally, its protective nature makes a SWD an excellent watchdog; due to its intelligence and work ethic, this breed is also used as a rescue dog in natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, and is a fantastic swimmer.

Spanish Water Dog and Children

Though these dogs will be affectionate towards most children, their strong herding instincts may cause them to control kids; a SWD may nudge or nip children who aren't doing what the dog thinks is proper.

Spanish Water Dog and Other Pets

A SWD is usually friendly to other animals, but due to its herding instinct, may try to control them.

Spanish Water Dog and Strangers

This breed is reserved and wary around strange people, but will not be suspicious of or aggressive towards them.

Spanish Water Dog Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Spanish Water Dog breed.

Black & White Spanish Water Dog
Beige Spanish Water Dog
Black & White Spanish Water Dog
Black & White Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water Dog Maintenance

The SWD is generally considered low-maintenance. Due to its intelligence, little training is necessary; very little grooming is needed; plenty of exercise is required.

Grooming Requirements

This breed sheds very minimally. Because its coat is naturally rustic and "corded" when long, no brushing is required; most owners clip the coat to medium length once or twice per year to keep it healthy. Baths are necessary every 2-3 months.

Exercise Requirements

As an extremely active breed, a SWD will require lots of exercise. A good long romp in the yard is good for these dogs, as is a daily walk. And true to its name, the SWD loves the water, and will enjoy swimming in pools or ponds.

Living Requirements

This breed is best suited for homes with yards, to allow a SWD to run freely. Given enough exercise, these dogs will tolerate apartment living as well.

Temperature Range

These dogs will adapt well to any climate.

Spanish Water Dog Health

Life expectancy is 10-14 years. Though considered a healthy breed overall, the SWD may suffer from hip dysplasia, and may have eye issues that require veterinary care.

  • Addison's Disease
  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Cherry Eye
  • Distichiasis
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Neuroaxonal Dystrophy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • View all 10...

Spanish Water Dog Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Spanish Water Dog as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • National Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 9...