Perro de Agua Español
Breed Type: Working / Water Dog
Country of Origin: Spain
Popular Names: Spanish Water Dog, SWD, Barbeta, Perro Patero, Laneto, Churro, Perro Rizado, Andalucian Turk, Turco Andaluz
Height: (At the withers) Males 44 – 50 cm, Females 40 – 45 cm
Weight: Males 18 – 22 kg, Females 14 – 18 kg
Best suited as: Pet or working dog with an active owner or family. May be used as a working dog
Lifespan: 14 years
These multi-purpose herding dogs have coats that form naturally into cords.
The SWD is an athletic, muscular dog that is longer than it is tall. The head is flat on top, and strong, and in balance with the body. The dog has a very distinctive curly single-layer woolen coat to protect it from extreme temperatures, humidity, and drought in its Spanish homeland. The coat self-forms into cords when long. SWDs come in brown, white, beige, black, or bi-colour (the secondary colour is white). Their paw pads, eye rims, and noses match the darkest colour of the coat and their eyes may be wide-set, expressive dark brown, chestnut, or hazel. The pendant, triangular shaped ears are placed halfway up the skull.
The tail is set in a mid-position on the back and is carried in an open ring over the dog’s back or in a curve above the back. Some have naturally short tails.
This is an ancient breed closely related to the Portuguese Water Dog but the exact origins of the Perro de Agua Español are unknown. There was a dog very similar in description working on the Iberian Peninsula over a thousand years ago. They worked the coastal mountains and wetlands of Spain, used to move goats and sheep between pastures. They also worked as guard dogs, rat killers in mines, retrievers for hunters, and assistants to fishermen as required.
The breed was revived in the late 1970s and early 80s by two enthusiasts, and were officially recognized as a breed by Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1999.
SWDs are watchful, hard-working, faithful, lively, obedient, and extremely intelligent. Their intelligence makes them quick learners and they adapt easily to different conditions and situations. They are aloof with strangers, but should never be shy or timid. They will bark to announce strange visitors and so make good watch dogs. They can be moody, inventive, and territorial.
They get along well with people and other animals, especially those with which they were raised. They do tend to herd everything in the house that moves, and this can be problematic if their herding style includes nipping at little children. Their herding instincts can end in tragedy if allowed off-leash in an unfenced area, since they will also try to herd motor vehicles.
These dogs usually bond to one person in the family. They are known to be “Velcro” dogs – they display signs of separation anxiety when that person is gone, and follow that person around as much as possible. This can evolve into extremely destructive behaviours if the dog is left alone for too long.
Care and Grooming
These dogs should never be trimmed or groomed aesthetically. Once or twice a year – or more often as needed – the coat should be clipped all over, down to about half a centimetre in length. None of the fur should be left longer anywhere. Pups should be shorn for the first time around four months of age.
Additionally, a Spanish Water Dog’s coat should never be combed, brushed, or blow dried, and should be bathed only when dirty. You must work a mild shampoo through the coat very gently, without rubbing. The fur should be blotted with a towel and allowed to air dry – never rubbed.
Once the coat starts to form cords, you must check for mats. Run your fingers gently through the coat and pull mats apart with your fingers starting at the ends and ending at the skin. Areas prone to matting are the back of the legs and behind the ears. These areas need frequent de-matting. In between sessions, check for hot spots or areas that seem to cause the dog discomfort, as there could be a mat or tangle there.
Because of the design – extremely curly with hooks down the entire length of the shaft – the hairs interlock and cause mats. To help minimize mats, never rub or agitate the hair. When you pet your dog, splay your fingers and let the coat run through your fingers instead of rubbing the dog. Never rub in circles.
Once a month, clip the dog’s nails if needed. Once a week, brush its teeth and check its ears for irritation, infection, and wax build-up. Clean the ears with a vet-approved solution and a cotton ball. Gently wipe the area around the eyes as needed.
They are high-energy dogs and need daily exercise of at least one hour. It is important for them to always have tasks or else they will become bored and result in destructive or develop other undesirable behaviours. They enjoy flyball, agility, herding, obedience, water work, tracking, and hunting. They also make good companions to swimmers, cyclists, and joggers.
Most SWDs live to about 14 years. They are afflicted by few health concerns; most common are allergies and hip dysplasia. Other possible health conditions from which they might suffer include hypothyroidism, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, endocrine pancreatic insufficiency, Addison’s Disease, and cataracts.
Suitability As A Pet
These dogs are not meant to be companions to sedentary people. They need to be with families who enjoy daily, vigorous physical activity. They do best in homes without young children because they have a tendency to try to herd or discipline them, which can result in injury. Single people who are gone all day should not choose a Perro de Agua Español because this will result in a miserable dog with separation anxiety behaviours.
They have instinctual herding abilities and make great herding dogs for sheep, cattle, and goats. Daily herding work contributes greatly to reduced incidence of boredom and the resulting problems.
Perro de Agua Espanol Organisations in Australia
No club information listed
Perro de Agua Espanol Organisations in the UK
Club Objectives – Perro de Agua Español Club Nederland
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