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The Spanish Water Dog, as the name suggests, hails from Spain. It was bred as herding dog and then later on as a land and water game retriever. The SWD is a robust athletic breed that stands 40 to 50 centimetres and weighs 31 to 48 pounds. It is recognised by The Kennel Club under the Gundog group but remains uncommon in the UK.
Are you thinking of getting a Spanish Water Dog? Here is a brief background of this medium water dog with a distinctive curly coat with a woolly texture.
The origin of the Spanish Water Dog is filled with varying theories. However, one common belief is that it is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, dating back to 1100 CE. As the name suggests, the breed hails from Spain and is well adapted to its climate and terrains. The SWD’s main role was to herd flocks of sheep and goats from one pasture to another but it was also tasked to retrieve game on water and land.
Efforts to start a breeding programme began in 1975, resulting in the modern Spanish Water Dogs we see today. It was recognised by the Spanish Kennel Club in 1985 and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale 14 years later. Although the Spanish Water Dog has been recognised by most international registries like The Kennel Club, it remains a relatively unknown breed in many countries.
The Spanish Water Dog is a robust and athletic medium dog that stands 40 to 50 centimetres and weighs 31 to 48 pounds. It has a strong and elegant head with a flat skull and slight stop. Its nose has well open nostrils, oval shaped medium eyes are set wide apart with a kind and expressive look, and V-shaped ears are slightly rounded at the tips. The nose, eye rims and paw pads have the same colour of the darkest part of its coat or darker. It has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite, a short neck, a compact body, a level back, a deep chest, and well-sprung ribs.
The Spanish Water Dog sports a distinctive curly coat with a woolly texture, which forms cords when long. The accepted colours according to KC standards are solid black, brown or white of different shades, black & white, and brown & white. Its coat is actually low maintenance since it is usually left in its natural state. It should never be brushed and only be checked for matting. When matts do form, it must immediately be gently pulled apart. Bathing should be done only when necessary with the use of lukewarm water and a gentle shampoo. Cords need to be sheared at least once a year to keep its coat healthy. Another good news is that the SWD does not shed. Other grooming regimens include regular ear cleaning, nail trimming and tooth brushing.
The Spanish Water Dog is a happy, good-tempered and courageous dog. As a true sporting dog, it loves being in the outdoors, being able to put its remarkable sense of smell to good use. Likewise, it also likes being in a home environment and just lounging around with family. Because of its calm disposition and affinity for children of all ages, it is a great family companion. However, it is better off in a family with older children that know how to act around active dogs appropriately. It is also more suitable to experienced dog owners who can handle this type of dog and provide its specific needs.
Early socialisation is vital since this breed has a tendency to be aloof toward people it does not know. While being wary of strangers can be a good characteristic of watchdogs, make sure that your Spanish Water Dog does not become unapproachable or unfriendly toward everybody. When it comes to other pets, it usually gets along with those it grows up with, including cats but care should be taken around other people’s cats and small animals.
When trained early by the right owners, the SWD is intelligent, obedient and willing to please. It has a tendency to wander so emphasis should be given to a strong recall command. Remember that this dog is also sensitive and would only respond to positive reinforcements. This adorable breed is very easy to spoil and could get away with bad behaviour because owners often find it amusing. It is also important to lay out ground rules and let it know who the alpha in the house is so it wouldn’t try to be dominant.
A typical serving for an adult Spanish Water Dog is 1.5 to 2 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day. As an owner, do your research and talk to your veterinarian on how your dog should be fed because the amount depends on its age, size, build, exercise, and metabolism. Typical calorie needs of adult Spanish Water Dogs per day:
A practical way to feed your SPD is feeding it high-quality kibbles formulated for medium breeds to meet its energy requirements. Like with most breeds, the number one ingredient should be animal meat, paired with complex carbohydrates for energy. Omega fatty acids are also important to keep its lovely coat healthy.
Spanish Water Dogs have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years. While it is generally healthy, it can be predisposed to certain diseases such as allergies, Hip Dysplasia, Progressive retinal Atrophy, Goniodysgenesis/Glaucoma, Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goitre, and Leishmaniasis Neuroaxonal Dystrophy.
The SWD is an active and intelligent medium-sized breed that needs at least one hour of exercise daily. Aside from walks, this sporting breed will be happy to do various outdoor activities with you. If you have a pool or live near a lake, as its name suggests, this dog will enjoy swimming. However, care must be taken in more dangerous watercourses as it might suddenly decide to jump in.
If you are interested in purchasing a Spanish Water Dog, be ready to go on a waiting list as this breed in rare in the UK. The price for a well-bred pedigree puppy is between £400 and £600. You also need to factor in pet insurance if you want to offset some expenses on health emergencies and accidents. Insuring a Spanish Water Dog will set you back a monthly premium of £26 for a basic cover and £62 for a lifetime cover. These prices depend on your dog’s age, health, and where you are in the UK.
Good nutrition is important in maintaining your dog’s health and minimising visits to the vet. Feeding your dog high quality dog food can set you back another £40-£50 a month. Routine checks with preventive care including neutering and spaying, can cost £1200 annually. This does not include major treatments and confinement in case of health emergencies.
You also need to factor in the basic accessories and equipment that can cost up to £200 initially. These include food bowls, collars and leads, bed, grooming kit, and toys. On average, caring and raising a Spanish Water Dog will cost £80 to £120 a month.
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Whilst some dogs may enjoy an occasional swim, water dogs are built to work in the water. Waters dogs originating from gundogs were bred to work in the water. They differ from most dogs with their immense interest for swimming and their dense watertight coats.