Spanish Waterdog (Perro de Agua Español)

Country of origin:
Spain
Height (cm):
40-50
Weight (kg):
14-22
Life span (years):
10-14
Colour:
white, black, chestnut, white and black & white & brown
Size:
average
Hair length:
long
Recognized by:
FCI, NKC, APRI, ACR, UKC and AKC/FSS, SWDAA, DRA, NAPR
FCI code:
336
Intelligence:
Good with kids:
Trainability:
Shedding:
Watchdog:
Adaptability:
Allergy:
Yes
Pros Cons
  • great family companion
  • friendly
  • great herder
  • gets on well with other dogs
  • independent-minded
  • needs a lot of daily exercises
  • too energetic for a toddler

Overview
The Spanish Water Dog is a good-natured and docile working dog native to Spain. It has existed in this country for over millennia and was used by its inhabitants as a herding, hunting and guarding dog. Despite its long history and incredible usefulness the breed has just recently gained international recognition and now it is acquiring more and more following as a companion dog.

History
Ancestors of the Spanish Water Dog have inhabited the Iberian Peninsula since at least 1110 AD. In reports from this period was described a woolly-coated Water Dog, which is regarded to be a forebear of the whole group of water dogs. It’s debatable as to how this dog initially arrived to this region. One theory proposes that it was imported there by Turkish traders who travelled throughout the Mediterranean with their cattle. There is also a suggestion that forefathers of the breed originated from African continent.

In its native Spain the Spanish Water Dog was charged primarily with herding task. In the XVIII century a large firm called «La Mesta» was engaged in driving a livestock from south to north of Spain and back again in order to find for it rich pastures. Dogs invariably accompanied grazing animals and were responsible both for guarding and herding a livestock. This long route was also known as «Trashumancia». However, this route gradually ceased to exist during Napoleon’s occupation. French noblemen were fascinated by the Spanish Water Dog and brought several specimens to Paris. In the following century it enjoyed the favour of Spanish and French Royalty and was oftentimes depicted alongside with the members of royal families.

The industrial revolution brought major changes to vast territories of Spain although some parts of it remained unaffected. Thus the Spanish Water Dog was still of a great use in the southern areas of this country (particularly in Cadiz and in the mountains of Malaga in Andalucia) thanks to its capability to work in the highlands. In the ports of Seville, Algecieras and Malaga it was also tasked to tow boats ashore. Later, when technology made this work unnecessary, the dog was re-trained to work as a fisherman’s assistant in the northern areas of the country. Some dogs also specialised in hunting waterfowl and upland game.

The Spanish Water Dog has remained in obscurity up until recently. In 1980 the breed caught attention of several Spanish breeders who put in significant efforts to attain its international recognition. Their work resulted in the dog’s official acknowledgment by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1999. Today some of these dogs still perform their original duties like herding goat and sheep in the mountains of southern Andalusia. It’s a notable fact, that Spanish government applied this breed in Search and Rescue and bomb sniffing. Nevertheless nowadays this big and friendly dog is mostly kept as a companion animal.

Temperament

The Spanish Water Dog is notable for a stable, amiable and cheerful demeanour, which makes it appropriate for the role of a companion dog. It craves for a constant companionship of its beloved humans and tends to become restless and upset if left alone for long periods of times. The dog is very gentle with children but it certainly should receive timely socialisation. The interaction between the Spanish Water Dog and a toddler should be always supervised by grown-ups since this dog possesses too vigorous temperament for a small child and can accidently injure it.

The Spanish Water Dog behaves forbearingly and calmly in the company of a stranger. Thanks to its friendliness it never demonstrates aggression without being intensely provoked. Some specimens are predisposed to be too shy when they meet new people and require extensive socialisation. On the whole it’s characterised with a laid-back attitude so it will make a rather average watchdog. This kind and tender dog is also ill-suited for guarding task.

Canine-aggression is totally unacceptable in the Spanish Water Dog since it had to perform its herding duties in cooperation with other canines. This breed will happily share its life with other dog preferably of same size and energy level. Throughout its history it was used in hunting so it acquired a fairly strong hunting instinct. At the same time it will get on with a small home pet (including a home cat) if they have been introduced to each other early in their lives.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• allergies;
• glaucoma;
• hypothyroid;
• congenital hypothyroid with goiter.
Grooming

The amount of grooming which will require the Spanish Water Dog will solely depend on its supposed duties. If you plan to hunt with the dog it would be prudent to shear its gorgeous coat regularly. Anyway its hair should never be brushed or combed. The point is that its coat mats naturally and forms lengthy cords.

Several times a week the dogs’ owner should check the its ears and rear end and work out any cords that might stick together. The dog requires only infrequent bath with a mild dog’s shampoo. Wash its hair with maximum gentleness and afterwards allow it to dry naturally. The Spanish Water Dog sheds little to nothing so it can be recommended for allergic sufferers.

Training
The Spanish Water Dog is a very trainable breed because of its inborn intelligence and docility. In fact it has numerous talents and can be trained to discharge a wide variety of duties. However the breed inclined to independent thinking and should fully trust the handler to follow his orders without hesitation.

The trainer should become for the dog an indisputable authority and treat it with a firm, confident and fair hand. The Spanish Water Dog is able to decipher even subtle modulations in your tone of voice so in case of a harsh treatment it usually harbours a grudge and ignores your commands. It learns much faster if motivated with tasty treats and praise.

Exercise
The Spanish Water Dog possesses a boundless amount of energy reserves and needs impressive amount of daily exercise. It should get at least a daily walk of an hour long to remain healthy and satisfied. This dog will eagerly accompany you in any adventure, which requires physical endurance and power. It absolutely loves water and readily takes any opportunity to swim in a local pond.

Without plenty of outdoors activities the Spanish Water Dog will develop serious behavioural issues including destructiveness, on-going barking, over excitability and even unreasonable aggression.
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