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Spanish Water Dog

A robust, medium-sized dog, the Spanish Water Dog has a curly, woolly coat that can be corded when long, or kept clipped short. They are strong and muscular and as their name suggests, love getting wet and are well suited to swimming and retrieving from water.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Medium dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 14 years
Weight:  Adult males weigh around 18-22kg and females 14-18kg  
Height:  Adult males are 44-50cm tall and females 40-46cm tall
Colours:  Solid black, white or brown, or black and white or brown and white
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog 


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 1/5


The Spanish Water Dog is bright, intelligent, friendly and even-tempered, and they love to work. With gainful employment via training, and a variety of dog sports or activities, the SWD is an excellent, active and fun companion dog. Although they may bond to one person in the family more than others, this is a gregarious dog who likes his family group to stay together, probably as a result of his herding ancestry!

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Spain

If the woolly coat of the Spanish Water Dog puts you in mind of the poodle, you can be forgiven for your error, as both Poodles and Spanish Water Dogs likely have a shared ancestor - the Barbet. Known to exist in Europe for several thousands of years, water dogs with woolly coats have served a variety of purposes, including hauling in fishing nets, retrieving items lost overboard, but also herding sheep and goats.

Today this rare breed is mostly seen in the show-ring but retains an all rounder attitude to a variety of jobs and is a bright, intelligent dog who can make a fun companion if their grooming needs are not an issue.

Did You Know?

  • Although the Spanish Water Dog has existed as a type of working dog in rural Spain for some time, as breed they have only been internationally recognised very recently. Efforts to establish them as a pedigree breed began in the 1970s, and the Spanish Kennel Club accepted them in the mid-1980s. 
  • There is also some confusion as to which breed group the Spanish Water Dog belongs in, with the UK Kennel Club classifying them as Gundogs, but the American Kennel Club placing them in the Herding group.
Dog with red collar looking out the window
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