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.