Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water Dog (white)Spanish Water Dog (white)

Here we have the Spanish Water Dog pictured which is a newcomer to Australia. On this page it is compared to the Lagotto which is about the same size and, except for the coat could appear similar.

Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water DogSpanish Water Dog

The Spanish Water Dog dogs are 30 - 40 cms tall and come in solid white, black and chestnut in their different shades or bi-coloured that is white and black or white and brown in different shades. Their curly coat can form cords when long. They can also have a natural bob tail. (FCI Standard no 336).

History of the Spanish Water Dog

Barbet 1848Barbet 1848

Water dogs or 'Canis Aquaticus' have been known along the European coast of France, Portugal and Spain for centuries. This type of dog was one of the many ancient Water Dogs described by Gervase Markham in his book 'The Art of Fowling' (1655 AD). Somewhat like the ancient French Water Dog pictured, his name, Barbet, came from the name from the French word "barbe" meaning beard, which was the name of the large duck with a beard-like growth of bristles on his bill that the Barbet used to hunt.

The Spanish Water Dog's characteristics, particularly the coat, were adapted to cope with the variation of humidity and drought of the marshy regions of Andalusia region of Spain, where he had assisted herdsmen, hunters of waterfowl and fishermen for centuries.

The Spanish Water Dog becomes a Pure Breed

Spanish Water DogSpanish Water Dog

In 1981, the Spanish Water Dog first appeared at a Show held in San Pedra in Spain. This sparked many articles being published in local dog magazines. Two veterinary surgeons then led a campaign towards the breed's recognition. After that, members of the Commission for the Spanish breeds of the Spanish Kennel Club came on board, together with the President of the Iberian Environmental Society. At that point Antonio Garcia who had passionately promoted the breed, drafted the first official Breed Standard. Many people regard him as 'the Father of the Breed'.

As a result, at the Iberian Environmental Society's Show in 1983, several Spanish Water Dogs were exhibited. This Show was then held for the next couple of years which was a sufficient number of times for one bitch named 'Trini' to qualify for the breed's first title of Spanish Champion. By 1985, the FCI provisionally registered the Spanish Water Dog based on the original Breed Standard. In 1986, the first breed specialty Show was held. But it would be 1999 before the breed was officially recognised by the FCI so that CACIB's could be awarded[1].

Comparison between Lagotto Romagnolo and Spanish Water Dog

Lagotto Romagnolo Spanish Water Dog
General Appearance The Lagotto is a small to medium-sized well proportioned, powerfully built dog. It has a rustic appearance with a dense, curly coat with tight ring shaped curls. The Spanish Water Dog is a well proportioned dog of rectilinear proportions and of an athletic build. It has a rustic appearance with a woolly textured coat.

Spanish Water DogSpanish Water Dog

Size The Lagotto is a small to medium-sized dog with a powerful build. He stands 41 - 48 cms (16 - 19 inches) high and weighs 11 - 16 kg (24 - 35 pounds)

The Spanish Water Dog stands 44 to 50 cm (19 - 19.5 inches) high for males and 40 to 46 cm ( 15.75 - 18 inches) for males and weighs from 14 - 22 kg (31 - 48.5 pounds).

Colour Off-white, white with brown or orange patches, brown roan, brown through to orange with or without white. Tan markings allowed. Solid white, black or chestnut in different shades or bi-coloured - white with black or white with brown.
Coat The unique waterproof coat is of woolly texture with curls forming the topcoat with a woolly undercoat. The curls should never be twisted to form cords. Instead it has tight, ring shaped curls evenly distributed over all the body and tail.

Always curly, of a woolly texture but without undercoat. Curly when short, can form cords when long. Puppies always are born with curly hair.

Clipping The coat is clipped to a maximum of 4 cms (1.5 inches). It should never be clipped so short that is prevented from curling. Nor may it be brushed out in the fashion of the Poodles. The recommended maximum length is 12 cm (15 cm extending the curl) and the minimum 3 cm so the quality of the curl can be assessed. It should always be even, following the outline of the dog.
Lagotto Lagotto Spanish Water DogSpanish Water Dog
The strong, broad skull is longer than the muzzle with flat cheeks. The stop is not too pronounced and the nose wide and slightly protruding. Its colour depends on the coat colour.
The strong, flat head is has parallel head planes. The nostrils are the same colour or darker than the darkest tone of the coat.
Eyes The round, large eyes are set fairly wide apart, their colour depends on the coat colour. The colour of the slightly oblique set round eyes should match the colour of the coat.
Ears The medium-sized, triangular ears with rounded tips, are set just above the zygomatic arches. The triangular, drooping ears are set at a medium height.
Mouth Scissor or pincer bite, slightly reverse scissors acceptable. Well formed teeth with well developed canines.
LagottoLagotto Spanish Water DogSpanish Water Dog
Neck Strong, muscular and absolutely free from dewlap. The length of the neck is a little less than the total length of the head. Short, well muscled, without dewlap, well set into the shoulders.
Forequarters The long shoulder blades are well laid back and the elbows are set close to the chest wall. The forelegs have with oval bone ending with sloping pasterns. Although the chest is fairly narrow in front, it is well developed, reaching down to the elbows.

The shoulders are oblique, the legs are straight and sturdy with the elbows close to the sides. The pasterns are rather straight and short, the chest is broad and the ribs are well arched.
Body The body is square, its length equals the height at the withers. The topline is straight. The loin is short and in profile, there is only a slight tuck-up. The proportion of the length of body to the height at withers is 9/8. The robust body has a straight topline with a slightly sloping croup. In profile the underline has a slight tucked up.
Hindquarters The hindquarters are powerful, the thighs are long with clearly defined and visible muscles. The stifles are well bent and the hocks are perpendicular to the ground with no dewclaws. The hindquarters are moderately angulated but the muscles are capable of the energetic spring necessary for easy and elegant jumping. The hocks are short and lean and perpendicular to the ground.
LagottoLagotto Spanish Water DogSpanish Water Dog
Feet Slightly rounded, but hind feet more oval Round
Tail Medium set on. At rest carried scimitar like but when attentive decidedly raised Medium set on. Can have natural bob tail of any length
Gait Trot is energetic and brisk Preferred gait is a trot

The Wetterhoun


The second Water Dog we shall mention is the Wetterhoun. He comes from the Netherlands and his coat is covered in tight curls. He stands 55-59 cms high and comes in solid black or brown, or black with white markings, or brown with white markings with ticking or roan in the white are permitted.(FCI Standard no 221).

References and Further Reading

Hot off the Press! Jane has just published a book 'Gundogs Unveiled'. Information on our sister website:

[1] Cristina Désarnaud - "Spanish Water Dog" Published by Kennel Club Books, NJ, USA Chapter on History of the Spanish Water Dog Recognition of the Breed Pages 9 - 16.