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SWD Breed Description

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Breed Organization

Spanish Water Dog Club of America

Native Country

Other Names
Spanish Water Dog, Perro de Agua Espanol, Turco Andaluz, Turkish Dog

Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-14 Years

Litter Size
Average 4-6 Puppies

Breed Group
AKC-Herding Group

General Description

The Spanish Water Dog (perro de agua español) breed is used in Spain as a general purpose sheepdog and guard. It is also used sometimes as a gundog, and is skilled at retrieval from water.

He is a medium size, athletic, robust dog that is slightly longer than tall. Their tails are usually docked in the US, but undocked tails are not a fault in conformation showing if the dog was bred in a non-docking country.

The head should be strong and carried with elegance. The skull is flat and the top is parallel with the top of the muzzle. The nose, eye-rims and paw pads are the same color as the darkest part of the coat or darker. The eyes are expressive and set fairly wide apart. They should be hazel, chestnut or dark brown in color, depending on the coat color. The ears are set at medium height on the skull, and are triangular.

It has a distinctive curly coat which is woolly in texture and may form cords when long. The coat should not be clipped or groomed for aesthetic purposes. Instead, it should look entirely natural, as though it is not groomed at all. It should never be trimmed, but sheared down at least once a year. SWD puppies are always born with curly hair.

The SWD can be seen in a variety of colors. It may be solid black, beige, brown, or white; bicolor where the second color is white; or particolor . Tri-colored dogs are strictly prohibited by the currently held (worldwide) standards for the breed as are black and tan or brown and tan color combinations.

Breed Standard

Head: Powerful. Flat skull. Stop not very pronounced. Nose color matches that of the coat.
Ears: Triangular and pendulous.
Eyes: Slightly slanted, ranging from hazel to brown.
Body: Stocky. Short, well-muscled neck without dewlap. Withers not very pronounced. Chest broad, well let-down. Well-sprung ribs. Slight tuck-up.
Tail: Docked to the second to fourth caudal vertebra. Sometimes short at birth.
Hair: Always curly with a woolly texture. Wavy or curly when short. May form thick cords when long.
Coat: Solid color: a shade of white, black, or brown. Added hairs: any shade of white and black or white and brown (patching).
Size: Dog: 40 to 50 cm (15.5-19.5 in). Bitch: 38 to 45 cm (15-17.5 in).
Weight: Dog: 16 to 20 kg (35-44 lb). Bitch: 12 to 16 kg (26,5-35 lb).


Originally there were three separated populations of SWD in Spain with somewhat different phenotypes and sizes. One of these populations was found in Northern Spain, in Asturias and Cantabria; these dogs were usually smaller and of lighter color, becoming a new breed on March 22, 2011, the Cantabrian Water Dog. The other group could be found in the marshes of western Andalusia; this type of dogs had coats made of long and thin cords. And finally the largest group came from the southern Andalusian sierras; this type of dogs were the largest and strongest since they were mainly used for herding.


The SWD is diligent, loyal, affectionate, and intelligent. They have very strong natural herding and guarding instincts, leading them to become the "self-appointed" guardians of their homes. SWDs thrive on work and play. Their athleticism and extremely hard working nature leads them to excel at any number of tasks. They can be wary with strangers, and early and continuing socialization with a variety of people and other animals is essential for a well-adjusted, social dog. Good socialization at an early age greatly helps them cohabit with small children.

He needs space and exercise, as well as regular brushing.


Sheepdog, Companion Dog.


Recent health testing has uncovered the following issues:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (prcd-PRA)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypoadrenocorticism (also known as Addison's disease)
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital hypothyroidism with goitre (CHG)
  • Distichia
  • Cherry eye
  • Neuroaxonal dystrophy

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