Spanish Water Dogs are delightful, curly, and poodle-esque canines originally bred as working dogs. And guess what? They’re not even Spanish! While Spanish Water Dogs were brought over to Spain around 300 years ago, they can trace their heritage to the Ottoman Empire, or modern day Turkey. They were relatively unknown outside of Spain until the 1970s and didn’t have a “breed club” until the 1980s. They were only recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2001.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the “official” dog world, Spanish Water Dogs are attractive little dogs with a very impressive résumé.
Spanish Water Dogs, despite what the name might suggest, are not even primarily dogs who work in water. They were originally bred to be herding dogs and to watch over their flock. They are also talented gun dogs and will assist their owner in hunting and retrieving land fowl. If hunting ducks, the Spanish Water Dog can assist there, as well. While many dogs will hesitate before entering a body of water, Spanish Water Dogs likely get their name because they do exactly the opposite! While hunting or herding, they will jump eagerly into water if necessary to complete their task. Their curly, dense hair keeps them insulated from the water, and because they are not as heavy as some other dogs who do similar jobs—Labradors, Golden Retrievers, etc.—they are buoyant and quick to return to land.
Spanish Water Dogs have a very strong instinct to herd: They were experts at herding sheep and other livestock back on the farm, so they might carry on that tradition in the home and herd family members and other dogs. While they mean no harm, herding dogs will occasionally nip at people’s ankles to get them to go where they want them to go. Because of this tendency, it’s best to introduce Spanish Water Dogs to children when they are young so they will see them as members of the family rather than little sheep to be bossed around.
While they are not especially large dogs, Spanish Water Dogs aren’t really suited to apartment living. They will do best in the suburbs or rural homes, where they have plenty of space to run. If bored, Spanish Water Dogs can become destructive and might “herd” people around the house even more! And because they can initially be distrustful of strangers, early socialization is important so that they can grow up to be confident and easygoing companions.
Because the Spanish Water Dog has so many talents, giving them a group to belong to at dog shows was tricky. Were they a sporting dog, a herding dog, or a working dog? The verdict came in during the summer of 2015: The Spanish Water Dog is officially categorized as a “herding” dog!
Explore some Embark dogs that share Spanish Water Dog ancestry.