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Spanish water dog

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Herding Group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 16-20 inches
  • Weight — 31-49 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Medium with wooly curls
  • Coat color — Colors include white, black, brown, and beige, which may appear in different combinations
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderately vocal
  • Lifespan — 12-14 years
  • Temperament — Cheerful, active, and loving
  • Hypoallergenic — No, but their lack of shedding makes them a good choice for owners with allergies
  • Origin — Unknown

Spanish water dog fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Spanish Water Dogs Rio and Jaxson. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Spanish Water Dogs love Millie and Lilly equally.

  • The Spanish water dog (SWD) is an ancient breed. There are several theories on where the Spanish water dog breed first originated. Many believe the breed’s ancestors hailed from either Spanish- or Turkish-occupied North Africa.
  • SWDs are multi-purpose workers. Their energy, intelligence, and trainability make them adept at a variety of jobs, including waterfowl retriever and sheepherder.
  • These dogs are known by several different names. Officially called the Spanish water dog, you may also hear these pups called the Turkish dog, perro de agua Español, Turco Andaluz, perro Turco, and Andalusian Turk.
Spanish water dog

Spanish water dog temperament and characteristics 

The Spanish water dog is a loyal medium-sized dog breed with plenty of love to give. They were originally bred as working dogs, and their ancestors were utilized across a variety of jobs. Given this heritage, working hard is in their DNA. But, so is playing hard. SWD pups are often highly-playful with seemingly boundless energy. That trait, combined with their reputation for being great with young children, makes the breed a great family member for kids.

SWDs are typically OK in homes with other dogs, but it’s always best to introduce any potential pets to each other, whether they’re rescue dogs or puppies purchased from a breeder. Reputable organizations and breeders can help schedule meet-and-greets to ensure your pets are a good fit for one another. Spanish water dogs typically accept other pets like cats, though sometimes they try to “herd” other animals, and felines don’t always appreciate that.

Because they’re so loyal, the Spanish water dog may bark when guests arrive. They may also be a bit hesitant around strangers. Generally, SWDs are highly affectionate but also need frequent stimulation. They do best in homes that can give them the love, care, and outlets for their seemingly boundless energy, like participation in dog sports.

Common Spanish water dog health problems

Spanish water dogs are active and lovable pets who often live happy and healthy lives. No one wants to think about an illness or chronic condition affecting their new puppy. But the Spanish water dog is prone to a few health conditions. Understanding what they are can help you get your dog prompt care and seek proper treatment options.

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRA refers to a group of degenerative eye diseases that cause the eye’s retina cells to break down. It can eventually lead to blindness.
  • Glaucoma . This condition happens when the intraocular pressure (IOP), or fluid pressure, inside a dog’s eye is too high. It can be primary (inherited) or secondary i.e. acquired through diseases or eye injuries.
  • Epilepsy. A dog can be diagnosed with epilepsy if they’ve had at least two seizures.  Or if their first seizure happens between ages 1 to 6. Epilepsy is not a common diagnosis for senior dogs.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency . This GI condition occurs if a dog cannot produce enough pancreatic enzymes to digest fats, carbs, or proteins. It can cause weight loss even if the dog has a typical or large appetite.

Cost of caring for a Spanish water dog

Caring for a dog of any breed is an expense. Food and routine vet care are among the most frequent expenses you’ll need to budget for, but you’ll need to pay more if your pet has a health issue. For instance, there is no cure for PRA, but dogs with glaucoma may be eligible for surgery and medications. They’ll also need eye exams. Diagnosing, treating, and managing can end up costing up to $3,000 or more.

Epilepsy treatment depends on the severity. Treatment typically includes monitoring and medications. Costs can range from $500 to $5,000 annually. Diagnosing and treating exocrine pancreatic insufficiency can involve testing to rule out other causes, dietary tweaks, and supplements. Monthly costs can range from $20 to $100.

Health insurance can help pet owners reduce out-of-pocket costs. People who sign their pets up early typically reap the greatest benefits. Other ways to save include using a budget and setting up a pet savings account.

Spanish water dog in park with owner

History of the Spanish water dog

The medium-size Spanish water dog’s history is a matter of some speculation. The breed has existed in the Spanish countryside for about 800 years, but how they first got there is debatable. Some believe that the breed came from an area of North Africa once occupied by Spain. Another theory posits that Turkish traders introduced the pups to Spanish people.

Either way, this hard-working dog is one of the world’s oldest, with the first mention of the breed in modern literature occurring in 1110 AD. Over their history, SWDs have worked in roles as herders, hunters, companions, and protectors.

When the Industrial Revolution began in Spain, the Spanish water dog became less necessary for hunting. Ever agile, the dogs became used for search and rescue and drug and bomb detection. They were also, naturally, loving and loyal companions.

Still, around 1975, the Spanish water dog was becoming a rare breed. Antonio Garcia Perez and Santiago Montesinos of Spain soon after teamed up to preserve the breed. The Real Sociedad Central de Fomento de Razas Caninas en España recognized the breed in 1985. Three decades later, in 2015, the American Kennel Club did the same, thanks in part to efforts from the Spanish Water Dog Club of America.

Caring for your Spanish water dog

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can feel all-consuming at first. A trip to the vet is high on your to-do list. Ditto for scheduling your dog’s vaccinations. You’ll want to puppy-proof your home, even if you’re getting an adult dog. Depending on the age of your new family member, you may need to get ready for teething.

No one likes to think about losing their new dog, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag. Consider it like a safety net. Here are some other basics specific to the Spanish water dogs.


Spanish water dogs are active pets with high exercise needs. They’re up for all different types of physical activity. Because of their waterfowl pedigree, the breed is always game for beach days. Hiking and long walks are also great ways to help a Spanish water dog get the exercise they crave.

The breed is highly intelligent and agile, so they’ll love participating in dog sports. Flyball, fetch, and disc dog are fun options for SWDs. You can even create a DIY agility course in your backyard, or you may be able to find one at a local dog park.

The wooly, curly hair shouldn’t get in the way on a hotter day. In fact, the Spanish water dog’s fur was actually designed to adapt to the often humid, dry weather in the Iberian Peninsula. Still, be sure to give your pup access to plenty of fresh water, especially in warmer weather.

Spanish water dog running


When it comes to grooming, the SWD requires a bit of work. Owners are instructed not to brush the distinctive curly coat. Instead, clipping it is essential. The breed standard for show ring dogs says the coat should be all one length, though this isn’t necessary for others. Sometimes, people go several months without giving their Spanish water dog a haircut, allowing the curly coat to develop cords. Cords do take some maintenance, though, and it’s best to find a professional groomer with experience clipping a Spanish water dog’s coat.

Other maintenance will also help keep your pet looking and feeling like a top dog. Nail trimming can prevent ingrown nails. Be sure to clean your dog’s ears frequently, including after any dips in the water. Gum disease is a common problem in dogs. Brushing their teeth once per day is the best prevention.

The Spanish water dog is often considered to be hypoallergenic dogs, however, no dog breed is truly 100% hypoallergenic. A protein found in dander, fur, and saliva can trigger allergic reactions in humans. Hypoallergenic dogs shed less, so they have less effect than dogs that shed more. Spanish water dogs have a single coat that doesn’t shed much, so they’ve often been labeled as “hypoallergenic.”

Diet and nutrition

Most Spanish water dogs are well-suited for a balanced diet consisting mostly of dog food. Dog food with the AAFCO seal is considered nutritionally complete and balanced. It’s recommended that dogs eat 90% dog food. The other 10% can include low-calorie treats.

Your dog’s veterinarian is the best resource for food portioning. Generally, older puppies and adult dogs should eat twice per day (breakfast and dinner). The dog food will typically tell how much to feed your dog. It may be broken down by daily intake. In these cases, simply divide by two to get portion sizes. Generally, a 40 lb. dog will need 984 calories per day, but it varies based on age and activity. Again, speak with your vet.

👉 Dogs with specific conditions may require special diets, so always consult your dog’s veterinarian about food intake. 

Training your Spanish water dog 

The Spanish water dog is smart and eager to please, making them one of the easier breeds to train. Like any breed, the Spanish water dog benefits from early training from a young age. However, older rescue dogs can also take well to training. The Humane Society emphasizes that positive training has the best success rate. Use treats and praise instead of crating for punishment and yelling to train your Spanish water dog. Though the breed is smart, short and precise commands work best. Think “sit,” “wait,” and “leave it” instead of a long-winded lecture about not running out the front door.

If you’re having challenges, a veterinarian can refer you to a professional trainer who can offer help in an individual or group setting.

Spanish water dog training

Breeds similar to the Spanish water dog

Not quite sure that a Spanish water dog is the best new family member for you? Even if you are, it’s a good idea to take the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Border collie. Border collies are playful, friendly, and also serve as search and rescue dogs.
  • German shepherd. The iconic German shepherd is another working dog who tends to be good with young children.
  • Shetland sheepdog. These dogs are also members of the herding groups. They’re loving toward their families but may be wary of strangers, similar to SWDs.

Frequently asked questions

Are Spanish water dogs expensive?

Depending on the breeder, Spanish water dogs can cost $2,000 or more. You might also consider checking out a local shelter, where you may be able to get a Spanish water dog for free or with a suggested donation.

What is another name for a Spanish Water Dog?

You may also hear Spanish water dogs called Turkish dogs, perro de agua Español, Turco Andaluz, perro Turco, and Andalucian Turk.

Do Spanish water dogs shed a lot?

No, Spanish water dogs do not shed much. As a result, they’re considered “hypoallergenic” by some, however it’s important to remember that no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic.

Are Spanish water dogs high-energy?

Yes, Spanish water dogs have a ton of energy and high exercise needs.

Are Spanish water dogs good family pets?

Spanish water dogs are highly affectionate and good with young children, making them excellent family pets. They are typically friendly toward other dogs and cats.