Spanish Water Dog Breed: Temperament, Care, and Activities

Photo of a Spanish Water Dog

Choosing the right dog for your family can feel like a tough task. The Spanish Water Dog, known for its loyal and affectionate nature, stands out as an ideal choice. Join us as we guide you through their temperamentcare needs, and suitable activities to ensure they thrive.

Explore the lives of these curly-coated companions!

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish Water Dogs are intelligent and versatile, originally used for herding and assisting fishermen in Spain. They thrive in activities like water sports, agility training, and companionship roles.
  • These dogs have unique curly coats that require special care to prevent matting; they should not be brushed but trimmed to maintain coat health. Regular grooming and exercise are essential for their well-being.
  • They need early socialisation with people and other animals due to their strong prey drive and protective instincts.
  • Their diet should be balanced with a careful watch on potential food allergies. Regular vet check-ups help catch any health issues early on.
  • Living with a Spanish Water Dog means adapting to an active lifestyle, as they need ample space for exercise and enjoy being involved in family activities.
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Overview of the Spanish Water Dog

The Spanish Water Dog, also known as Perro de Agua Español, is a versatile and intelligent breed known for its history as a retrieval and herding dog in Spain. It has distinctive curly or wavy coat, and it belongs to the gundog group of dogs.

If you enjoyed this breed guide, check out our others:

Origin and History

Spanish Water Dogs hail from Spain, becoming well-loved as versatile workers. They have a rich history of herding and assisting fishermen. Their skills made them invaluable in both fields.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognised Spanish Water Dogs in 2015, marking a significant moment for the breed. This recognition came after their AKG registration on December 1, 2014.

It highlighted the breed’s growing popularity and importance across the globe, showcasing their unique abilities and charming personalities to a wider audience.

Physical Characteristics

Spanish Water Dogs are medium-sized dogs with a striking appearance. They stand 40 to 50 centimetres tall, making them neither too big nor too small. Males weigh between 14 to 22 kilograms, while females are a bit lighter, tipping the scales at 14 to 18 kilograms.

Their coats are truly unique: curly and woolly, touching it feels like petting a sheep! These dogs can sport various colours including black, brown, beige, white or even particolour which is a mix of shades.

Their fur doesn’t just hang there; it forms natural curls or rustic cords that look amazing in dog shows. For these events, the coat’s length must be between 2.54 centimetres and 12.7 centimetres long.

This special coat helps them stay buoyant in water – perfect for their love of swimming! Next up: let’s explore how these physical traits affect the Spanish Water Dog’s temperament.

Temperament of the Spanish Water Dog

A Spanish Water Dog being groomed in a cozy home environment.

The Spanish Water Dog is known for its friendly and energetic nature, making it an ideal companion. Its affectionate temperament towards family members makes it a loyal and loving pet.

General Personality Traits

Spanish Water Dogs are highly intelligent and active pets. They show a friendly, bright temperament that makes them sweet-natured companions. Their sharp minds mean they learn quickly, making tasks from obedience training to learning tricks easier.

Yet, their strong prey drive calls for ongoing socialisation to ensure they remain well-behaved around other animals.

Hunting traits are also part of their makeup, due to their history as working dogs primarily in retrieval.

To manage these traits, positive reinforcement in training proves effective, helping mould them into well-adjusted members of the household.

Interaction with Family

Spanish Water Dogs are very affectionate with their families but can be a little standoffish. They love spending time with all family members and are known for their loyalty. These dogs enjoy playing games, going on walks, and simply being around the people they love.

They make great companions and are always ready to offer comfort and support.

They also get along well with young children, making them perfect for family life. With their gentle nature, Spanish Water Dog puppies quickly become a child’s best friend, sharing in adventures and providing endless fun.

Their versatile personality means they easily adapt to different household dynamics, ensuring everyone feels included. Whether it’s a quiet evening at home or an active day out, these dogs fit right into the heart of family activities.

Interaction with Other Dogs and Animals

Spanish Water Dogs are generally good with other dogs. They enjoy playing and socialising, which makes them a great fit for families with more than one pet. Their friendly nature means they often get along well in parks and during walks, mixing happily with other breeds.

Like any other dog, ongoing socialisation is crucial to keeping these interactions positive. Introducing your Spanish Water Dog to different animals and settings from a young age helps build their confidence and manners.

Taking care of their need for companionship, it’s essential to involve them in activities that encourage interaction with other dogs and animals. Group dog training sessions can be an excellent way for them to meet new friends while learning important skills.

These experiences help prevent fear and aggression, making your Spanish Water Dog a well-adjusted member of the animal community. Always watch their body language during encounters to ensure they stay comfortable and happy around new furry friends.

Care Requirements for the Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water Dog with a small child playing

The Spanish Water Dog needs regular grooming, including brushing and trimming. Exercise is essential for this active breed to maintain their health and prevent boredom. A balanced diet, proper nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for the overall well-being of the Spanish Water Dog.

Grooming Needs

Spanish Water Dogs need special care for their unique coats. You must never brush the coat as this can damage it. Instead, keep the fur the same length everywhere to maintain its health and appearance.

The cording process is tricky and requires someone who knows what they’re doing. Daily grooming involves splitting fibres to keep cords looking good without brushing.

Next, let’s talk about how much exercise these active dogs need.

Exercise Requirements

Spanish Water Dogs are lively and have high energy levels. They need at least one hour of exercise every day.

  1. Daily walk: Take them for a brisk walk or a jog. This helps to burn off their excess energy and keeps them fit.
  2. Swimming: These dogs love water. Allow them to swim in safe water. It’s a fantastic way for them to exercise without putting too much strain on their joints.
  3. Playing fetch: Use toys that float if you’re near water, making retrieval fun and challenging.
  4. Hiking: They make excellent hiking companions due to their endurance and love for the outdoors.
  5. Agility training: Enrol them in agility courses where they can run, jump, and navigate through obstacles.
  6. Herding activities: Despite not being in a farm setting, you can still engage their herding instinct by using balls or toys during playtime, simulating herding exercises.
  7. Interactive games like tug-of-war and hide-and-seek stimulate their minds as well as provide physical activity.

Observing these guidelines will help ensure your Spanish Water Dog remains healthy, happy, and well-adjusted.

Diet and Nutrition

Feeding your Spanish Water Dog a balanced diet is crucial for its health and happiness. This dog breed may face occasional food allergies, so it’s wise to keep an eye on how they react to different foods.

If you are concerned about dietary or environmental intolerances, you can order an intolerance kit.

A mix of dry and wet dog food that’s rich in nutrients like proteins, fats, and vitamins helps maintain their energy levels and supports a healthy coat. Including fish oil supplements can also benefit their joints, especially as they age.

Monitor your Spanish Water Dogs’ weight carefully to avoid them putting on weight. Overfeeding can lead to health problems such as arthritis and heart issues. Always choose high-quality puppy food for younger dogs to support their growth without causing excessive weight gain.

Regular vet check-ups will help catch any signs of dietary issues early on, including sensitivity to certain foods or the need for more specific nutrients in their diet.

Health Issues and Lifespan

Spanish Water Dogs live for about 12 to 14 years on average. They are generally healthy dogs, but they can face some health problems, such as hip dysplasiaeye issues, and sometimes food allergies.

Owners should make sure these dogs have regular vet check-ups to catch any conditions early.

For those thinking of breeding Spanish Water Dogs, it’s key to do health checks. This careful approach helps maintain the wellbeing of this beloved dog breed and ensures puppies have the best start in life.

Training the Spanish Water Dog

A woman trains a Spanish Water Dog with positive reinforcement in a park.

Training a Spanish Water Dog involves patience and consistency. Positive reinforcement techniques work best, focusing on their intelligence and eagerness to please.

Training Tips and Techniques

Training the Spanish Water Dog is a rewarding journey. These dogs are highly trainable and respond well to positive training methods.

  1. Start training early. Puppies are eager learners, so begin with basic cues as soon as they join your family.
  2. Use plenty of praise and treats. Positive reinforcement encourages them to repeat good behaviour.
  3. Keep sessions short and fun. Spanish Water Dogs have lots of energy but short attention spans when they’re young.
  4. Practice patience and consistency. Repetition helps them understand what you expect from them.
  5. Incorporate toys into training. They love playing, so use toys as rewards for successful learning moments.
  6. Socialise them early with other dogs and people. This reduces fear and aggression in new situations.
  7. Teach them to return when called from an early age, especially important for water-loving breeds prone to basking.
  8. Challenge their minds with agility training or herding activities, suitable for their high intelligence and energy levels.
  9. Avoid harsh corrections; it can damage your relationship and hinder progress.
  10. Address separation anxiety by slowly getting them used to being alone for short periods.
  11. Consult books or online resources targeted at canine intelligence and dog breeds for more specialised approaches based on the Spanish Water Dog’s unique traits.

By following these tips, owners can nurture a well-trained dog that thrives in both family life and various activities suited to its breed characteristics, such as water sports, agility training, or companionship roles.

Socialisation Needs

Spanish Water Dogs have a strong prey drive, making ongoing socialisation essential. Starting early helps them get along with other dogs and animals. They need to meet different people and experience new situations regularly.

This prevents fear or aggression towards strangers. Socialising also involves exposing them to various environments. Parks, city streets, and the countryside are good places for this.

Owners must keep their Spanish Water Dogs busy mentally and physically through activities like desensitisation training. This reduces their sensitivity to sudden noises or movements.

consistent routine of meeting new pets and people will make them more adaptable and friendly.

Next, we examine common training challenges these intelligent creatures might face.

Common Training Challenges

Training a Spanish Water Dog can be both rewarding and tricky. These dogs have strong herding instincts and may show guarding traits and a high prey drive, which makes training them unique.

  1. Herding instinct often kicks in unexpectedly. This breed originally worked as a herding dog, compelling them to chase moving objects or animals. Owners need patience and consistent training to manage this behaviour.
  2. They might display guarding traits. The protective nature of the Spanish Water Dog means they could be wary around strangers or new situations, necessitating early socialisation.
  3. High prey drive can distract them during training sessions. These dogs were bred to work, so fast-moving objects, including small animals, can divert their attention quickly.
  4. Their intelligence requires engaging training methods. Simple repetition won’t do; trainers must keep sessions interesting to hold their attention.
  5. Patience is key for recall training due to their independence. Teaching them to come when called might take extra time compared to other breeds.
  6. Socialising them with other dogs and animals is important but needs careful introduction and monitoring due to their strong personalities.

Activities Suitable for Spanish Water Dogs

Photo of a Spanish Water Dog

Engage Spanish Water Dogs in water sports, agility training, herding, and companionship. They thrive on active lifestyle pursuits that stimulate their instinctive behaviours.

Water Sports and Activities

Spanish Water Dogs excel in water-based activities due to their waterproof coats. Their love for swimming makes them ideal participants in various aquatic sports.

  1. Dock diving is a thrilling water sport where dogs leap from a dock into a pool to retrieve an object. It tests the dog’s jumping ability and the strength of its swim back to the dock.
  2. Canoeing offers a calm yet engaging experience for both the dog and its owner. It allows them to explore rivers and lakes together, strengthening their bond.
  3. Water training provides excellent exercise and equips these dogs with valuable skills. They learn to perform rescues, highlighting their natural instinct to help.
  4. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is gaining popularity among dog owners as it challenges both balance and coordination while offering a peaceful way to enjoy nature.
  5. Fetch games in the water are simple yet effective in keeping Spanish Water Dogs fit and entertained. Throwing toys or sticks into the water encourages them to swim further.
  6. Agility courses set up in shallow water introduce an interesting twist to traditional agility training, requiring dogs to navigate through obstacles while wading or swimming.

Participating in these activities promotes physical health and mental well-being for Spanish Water Dogs, making full use of their natural abilities and love for water.

Agility Training

Agility training for Spanish Water Dogs is an excellent way to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Agility training involves teaching your Spanish Water Dog to navigate a variety of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and A-frames.
  2. This activity helps improve their coordination, strength, and endurance while building a strong bond between the dog and its owner.
  3. It is essential to start agility training at a young age to allow the dog to develop the necessary skills gradually.
  4. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, are effective tools for encouraging desired behaviors during agility training.
  5. The sport provides an outlet for the breed’s natural athleticism and intelligence, making it an enjoyable activity for both the dog and its owner.

Remember that incorporating agility training into your Spanish Water Dog’s routine can contribute to their overall physical health and mental well-being.


Spanish Water Dogs have a strong herding instinct and are historically utilised for herding tasks. This breed’s intelligence, agility, and responsive nature make them well-suited for herding activities.

  1. Herding Instinct: Spanish Water Dogs possess a natural aptitude for herding livestock and have been used as herding dogs for generations.
  2. Intelligent Handling: Their high level of intelligence allows them to quickly understand and respond to commands during herding tasks, making them effective in managing and directing livestock.
  3. Adaptive Herding Techniques: They are adept at employing a variety of herding techniques such as gathering, driving, and holding livestock.
  4. Versatile Herders: Spanish Water Dogs exhibit versatility in their herding abilities, being proficient with different types of livestock such as sheep, goats, and cattle.
  5. Coordination Skills: Their agility and coordination enable them to move swiftly and smoothly while guiding or moving livestock in various herding scenarios.
  6. Responsive Communication: A distinguishing trait is their responsiveness to subtle cues from the shepherd or handler when engaged in herding activities.

These innate characteristics make Spanish Water Dogs highly capable and reliable when tasked with herding responsibilities.


Spanish Water Dogs are not just adept at herding, but they also excel in providing companionship. Here are some roles they can play:

  1. Companionship: They make great companions due to their affectionate nature and loyalty, offering valuable emotional support to their owners.
  2. Assistance Dogs: Their intelligence and trainability make them suitable candidates for serving as assistance dogs for individuals with disabilities, aiding them in various tasks.
  3. Canine-Assisted Interventions: Spanish Water Dogs can participate in interventions that harness the bond between humans and animals to improve mental well-being.

These dogs bring joy, comfort, and vital support to those in need through their exceptional companionship and therapy work capabilities.

Living with a Spanish Water Dog

Living with a Spanish Water Dog involves adapting to their needs and living style. It’s important to create an ideal environment for them, including adjusting to family life and understanding their interactions with children.

Ideal Living Conditions

Spanish Water Dogs thrive in active households with plenty of space to roam and exercise. They are adaptable to different living situations, but they particularly excel in homes with access to outdoor areas such as yards or gardens where they can play and burn off energy.

Due to their social nature, Spanish Water Dogs flourish in environments where they have ample opportunities for interaction, both with their human family members and other dogs. Additionally, since these dogs were historically used as hunters and herders near water bodies, being close to natural water sources or having regular access to swimming activities can greatly enrich their quality of life.

Considering the breed’s background and energetic nature, providing a spacious and stimulating environment will ensure that Spanish Water Dogs lead fulfilling lives. It is essential for owners to keep this in mind when considering the ideal living situation for this breed.

Adjusting to Family Life

Spanish Water Dogs are known for being affectionate and friendly towards their family members. They thrive in a loving and attentive environment, forming strong bonds with their human companions.

These dogs often display an amiable and sweet-natured temperament, making them well-suited for family life. Their bright and sociable nature allows them to integrate seamlessly into households with children, becoming loyal and gentle playmates.

The breed’s adaptability also enables them to forge harmonious relationships with other pets within the family setting, fostering a cohesive and inclusive home environment.

Their affectionate nature contributes positively to creating a warm, nurturing atmosphere within the family unit – the Spanish Water Dog is famed for its loving disposition.

Interaction with Children

Spanish Water Dogs are known for their friendly and sweet-natured temperament, making them good companions for young children. Their bright and amiable nature aligns well with the energy levels of kids, fostering a harmonious bond between both the dog and the child.

This breed’s gentle disposition creates a safe interaction environment, encompassing playfulness and affection, while also promoting empathy and responsibility in children as they care for their furry friend.

It is essential to supervise interactions between Spanish Water Dogs and children to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience for both parties.

The Spanish Water Dog’s compatibility with young children stems from its inherent friendliness, making it an ideal canine companion in family settings. The breed’s vibrant nature fosters active yet nurturing interactions with kids, facilitating a positive impact on their emotional development while forging lasting bonds based on mutual respect and care.

This encouraging dynamic offers valuable learning opportunities for children regarding empathy, social skills, and responsible pet ownership when raised alongside this affable four-legged companion.

Getting Involved with Spanish Water Dogs

Find a reputable breeder. Consider adoption or rescue options for a Spanish Water Dog. Seek clubs and organisations dedicated to this unique breed.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

  1. Reputable breeders ensure health and genetic testing of parent dogs.
  2. They provide accurate paperwork, including pedigrees, DNA testing, and health clearances.
  3. Responsible breeders offer lifetime support and guidance for new puppy owners.
  4. They prioritise the well-being of their dogs over financial gain.
  5. Ethical breeders do not engage in mass breeding or puppy farming practices.
  6. They adhere to the Kennel Club’s Code of Ethics and uphold high breeding standards.
  7. Good breeders don’t advertise online; instead, they have waiting lists for prospective owners.
  8. Trusted breeders are usually involved in dog clubs or organisations and are passionate about the improvement and preservation of the breed.

Adoption and Rescue Options

Considering adopting a Spanish Water Dog? Here are some reputable options to explore:

  1. Spanish Water Dog Club Rescue: The official club for this breed offers rescue and rehoming services.
  2. Local Animal Shelters: Many shelters have Spanish Water Dogs available for adoption, providing a loving home to these dogs in need.
  3. Breed-specific Rescues: Look for organisations dedicated to rescuing and rehoming Spanish Water Dogs, such as the SWD Club Rescue mentioned earlier.
  4. Online Adoption Platforms: Websites like Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet often list Spanish Water Dogs available for adoption across the UK.
  5. Foster-to-Adopt Programs: Some rescues offer foster programs that allow you to provide temporary care for a dog before committing to adoption.
  6. Networking with Breeders: Reach out to reputable breeders who may be aware of dogs in need of rehoming, or who offer retired breeding dogs for adoption.
  7. Social Media Groups: Joining breed-specific Facebook groups or forums can connect you with individuals looking to rehome their Spanish Water Dogs directly.
  8. Adoption Events: Keep an eye out for local pet adoption events where you might meet Spanish Water Dogs in need of loving homes.

Professional Training and Support

Professional training and support are crucial for Spanish Water Dogs due to their high intelligence and activity levels.

  1. Start training early to socialise them with other dogs and people.
  2. Consistent, positive reinforcement methods work best for this breed.
  3. Use mental stimulation through games, puzzles, and obedience training.
  4. Seek guidance from certified dog trainers or behaviourists for advanced training needs.
  5. Regularly engage in physical activities to meet their exercise requirements.
  6. Learn about the breed-specific health concerns to provide appropriate care.
  7. Join local dog clubs or organisations that offer support and resources for Spanish Water Dog owners.
  8. Leverage online resources, books, and professional guidance for ongoing support.

Seeking professional advice and continuous learning is valuable in providing the best care for Spanish Water Dogs.

Health and Wellness Support

  1. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule annual health checks to monitor for any potential health issues and ensure overall wellbeing.
  2. Balanced Diet and Nutrition: Provide a well-rounded diet with high-quality food sources to support the Spanish Water Dog’s nutritional needs.
  3. Dental Care: Implement regular dental hygiene practices and consider dental treats to maintain good oral health.
  4. Exercise and Weight Management: Engage in regular exercise based on the dog’s physique and energy levels, while monitoring weight to prevent obesity-related health issues.
  5. Grooming and Hygiene: Regular grooming sessions, including brushing, coat maintenance, and ear cleaning, are essential for maintaining a healthy appearance and preventing skin issues.

Seeking professional guidance from reputable veterinarians can further enhance your Spanish Water Dog’s overall health and wellness.


In conclusion, the Spanish Water Dog is an intelligent and loyal breed ideal for various activities like agility training and water sports. Their waterproof coat and history of truffle hunting make them versatile companions.

With a lifespan of 12-14 years, they are long-term pets requiring regular grooming, exercise, and socialisation to thrive. Consider getting involved with reputable breeders or adoption options to welcome this unique breed into your family.


1. What is the temperament of a Spanish Water Dog?

The Perro de Agua Español, or Spanish Water Dog, is a bobtail dog breed known for its soft mouth and friendly nature. However, they can show signs of dog aggression if not properly socialised.

2. How do you care for a Spanish Water Dog’s health?

Caring for this breed involves monitoring their food and nutrition to prevent malabsorption of nutrients. Regular check-ups are needed as well because they’re prone to congenital hypothyroidism from an underactive thyroid gland.

3. Are there any common diseases in Spanish Water Dogs?

Yes, these dogs may suffer from Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which could lead to blindness, and issues with their pancreas that affect digestion. They also can have dental health problems like plaque and tartar build-up.

4. What kind of diet does a Spanish Water Dog need?

A balanced diet is essential for this breed. This includes lower calorie foods rich in digestive enzymes that support gut bacteria health and supplementation.

5.What activities are suitable for a Spanish Water Dog?

Spanish water dogs enjoy physical activities such as running or playing fetch but remember always monitor them during hot weather to avoid heat exhaustion since panting helps regulate their body temperature.

6.How should I groom my Spanish water dog?

Regular dog grooming is crucial keeping your pet’s coat healthy; however desensitising them early on will make the process easier over time.

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