Spanish Water Dog

Other names: Perro de agua espanol

Spanish Water Dog

The Spanish Water Dog is used as a hunting, fishing or sheepdog. Docile, happy, hard-working and very well-rounded, they have a strong aptitude for learning thanks to their great capacity for understanding. This dog can adapt to all situations and conditions. They make excellent utility dogs that can also be considered as pleasant pet dogs.

Key facts about the Spanish Water Dog

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Playful Intelligent Hunter

Size :

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Origins and history

The existence of this dog in the Iberian Peninsula dates back to a very long time ago. It’s even said that the Spanish Water Dog could be the oldest out of their category. The largest number of them is found in Andalusia, where they have been known for centuries as a “Turkish dog” and are used as sheepdogs. Their genetic characteristics haven’t really changed through selection until today thanks to their numerous and versatile working qualities.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs


Section 3 : Water Dogs

Physical characteristics of the Spanish Water Dog

  • Spanish Water Dog
    Spanish Water Dog

    Adult size

    Female : Between 16 and 18 in

    Male : Between 17 and 20 in


    Female : Between 31 and 40 lb

    Male : Between 62 and 49 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    A rustic, well-proportioned, average-weight, dolichocephalic, rather elongated dog with a balanced form and appealing profile, the Spanish Water Dog has an athletic nature and a well-developed muscle structure. Slightly slanted, their eyes are very expressive. Their ears set moderately high on their head, are triangular and hang down. The tail sits at an average height.

    Good to know

    In their country of origin, they are used as search dogs along firefighters (searching for lost persons) and the police (searching for drugs and other illegitimate items at airports)
    In the United States, they are used for the search of bodies and in Holland, they are used especially for the search of dead bodies in marshy grounds.
    Finally, in Spain, an educational project managed by the Ministry of National Education and led by the president of the Spanish breed club has made these water dogs a therapist dog for the elderly and disabled children.


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      Of a very happy and balanced nature, these dogs are devoted to their friends but never to the point of being absolutely inseparable. A very endearing breed, they delight everyone they meet through their warmth and sympathy.

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      Very happy and lively, this water dog is willing to play any game initiated by their owner. It’s important that they’re involved in activities that are both educational and entertaining in order to maintain their early-learning, work them hard both physically and mentally, strengthen the dog-owner relationship and fortify their training.

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      This dog can be calm and quiet when all of their needs have been satisfied. Otherwise, boredom can make them unruly.

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      This water dog is intelligent and above all, very versatile: they adapt very quickly to the various tasks they are given. Whether being a sheepdog (cattle management), a hunting dog (retriever dog, game dog in the marshes, etc.), a fisherman’s assistance dog or simply as a companion, they’re a breed with many facets.

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      This breed makes excellent helpers for hunters; they can aid hunting on all types of terrain, whether marshy or dry thanks to their incredible ability to adapt.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Perro de agua espanol, as called in their country of origin, is very friendly towards humans and their guardian instinct allows them to quickly detect the motives of anyone approaching them.

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      Tremendously balanced, this dog does not depend on their master, despite their undeniable attachment to them. They are easily able to be alone in the garden or inside without the constant need to be beside their owner.

      Behaviour of the Spanish Water Dog

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        Tolerates solitude

        If, from the moment the puppy arrives home, they learn to be alone, they can therefore live easily without their owners being there. However, prolonged time away from home should not be a routine as this utility dog may eventually get bored.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Particularly docile, this dog’s learning abilities are almost endless. It’s often said that the Spanish Water Dog alone possesses the qualities of three or four other dogs, so their capabilities are very diverse.

        Very easy to train, this dog understands what is expected of them extraordinarily quickly, as long as teaching methods are respectful and kind toward them.

        With this breed, the basic principles quickly sink in but beware, regular and consistent hard work is necessary in order to have a Spanish Water Dog as perfect as they seem on paper.

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        This dog will bark at the slightest suspicious sound, making them the ideal alert dog. Good training will be needed so as to not make this behaviour too excessive.

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        Tendency to run away

        If their hunting instinct or game tracking ability is not put to use, or they are never let outside, the Spanish Water Dog may run away at the first available opportunity.

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        Like any good working dog, if not adequately stimulated, the Perro de agua espanol knows exactly how to display their frustration.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        Some would say that Spanish Water Dogs live well as they enjoy eating, especially after a good day’s work; however, they are not too greedy.

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        Guard dog

        Hunting dog, fishing dog, sheepdog… it seems almost necessary to add another string to this dog’s bow: the ability to also be a guard dog; and indeed, the Spanish Water Dog naturally has a guardian instinct and warns by barking at the slightest approaching danger.

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        First dog

        The Perro de agua espanol can be anyone’s companion, especially to beginners thanks to their outstanding listening and understanding skills; so long as their needs are met, and their skills are put to good use.

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          Spanish Water Dog in a flat

          Since their intelligence and versatility allows this dog to adapt to many living conditions, living in an apartment does not seem to be a problem for the Spanish Water Dog.

          However, this way of life is only feasible if their owners have enough time to help them make use of all their abilities and if large spaces for walks are available nearby.

          However, the best thing is that this dog moves around in the countryside, in a house with a nice garden and the opportunity to exercise fully whether physically, mentally or regarding their sense of smell, as much as possible. A watering place nearby is strongly recommended.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          Very lively, the Perro de agua espanol needs to be stimulated on a daily basis to be happy on their feet and in their mind. They will happily accompany an active owner in their various activities; they are not made to stay indoors all day.

          Plus, it would be a shame not to make the most of their various skills; it’s therefore recommended to facilitate a range of activities for this dog such as: agility, catch, cani-cross, obedience, digging, tracking and of course, all activities related to water.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          Socialisation training is needed to be able to take the Spanish Water Dog everywhere so that they can happily endure any encounters on public transport etc.


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            Spanish Water Dog and cats

            If a Spanish Water Dog puppy grows up around a cat, they can easily live with them. Otherwise, watch out for their natural hunting instinct that may arise. Although, with other animals that aren’t game birds, this dog has more sheepdog-like reflexes.

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            Spanish Water Dog and dogs

            Very balanced, this dog usually gets along well with other dogs, but early socialisation is still needed so that they integrate well into canine situations and rules.

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            Spanish Water Dog and children

            Playful, happy and docile, living with children is generally trouble-free, as long as the dog feels respected. However, be careful if the children do not communicate kindly with the dog because their patience does sometimes have its limits.

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            Spanish Water Dog and the elderly

            The energy that this dog possesses does not comply with a potentially sedentary lifestyle. Although they can adapt to many conditions, this is clearly not a possible option for the physical and psychological well-being of this dog.



            The price of a Spanish Water dog varies according to their age, origin and sex. The average cost of a pedigree is around £830.

            Regarding the average budget required to meet the needs of a dog of this size, it costs around £35 a month.


            Despite appearances, this curly-haired (even corded) dog is not difficult to maintain as no brushing is really necessary. Some dogs can be clipped (it’s recommended to do this twice a year) but the official standard stipulates that this should not represent an “aesthetically pleasing” cut.

            Their drooping ears should be cleaned regularly, especially after each swim to avoid an ear infection that is commonly found in water dogs.


            Hair loss is moderate throughout the year and increases twice a year around moulting time.

            Nutrition of the Spanish Water Dog

            Feeding this dog is not difficult but a vet check-up is necessary for those who work hard and have very intense, regular physical activity.

            The industrial diet can offer quality biscuits, however, there is nothing better than the traditional diet that owners who have the time and sufficient knowledge can adopt, by creating balanced,well- adapted meals.
            In order to avoid any stomach upset (often seen in active dogs), it’s better to give them two meals a day (morning and evening) and to ensure the dog rests after each meal (for about one hour).

            Health of the Spanish Water Dog

            Life expectancy

            The life expectancy of this dog is estimated at around 12 years.

            Strong / robust

            The Spanish Water Dog is very resilient and renowned for their great resistance to disease.

            Withstand heat

            Rather accustomed to the mild temperatures of their country of origin, the Spanish Water Dog does not suffer from the heat but it’s still better to spare them from intense heat for example, during heat waves.

            Withstand cold

            Their hair allows for very effective resistance, especially to variations in humidity. Therefore, they’re protected from bad weather and they can even live outdoors.

            Tendency to put on weight

            Full of energy and vitality, it’s very rare to see an overweight Spanish Water Dog. If this is the case, then the dog’s physical routine must be seriously reconsidered.

            Common illnesses

            This breed is lucky enough to have a very good health and not be subject to hereditary diseases. However, owners must pay attention to their ears, which are specifically prone to ear infections.

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