The choice of a pet, especially a dog, is a responsible decision, because this animal will be with you and your children for at least 10 years. Therefore, it is worth considering the description of such a breed as the Spanish Water Dog, as well as familiarize yourself with the rules for keeping these animals and their character traits.
The first mention of this breed in Spanish sources dates back to 1110. It is not known exactly how these dogs originally came to Spain, but the two most popular versions say that they either came to the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa with the conquering Moors in the 8th century, or were brought by merchants from the territory of modern Turkey. In Spain itself, this breed was called the “Turkish dog” for a long time. These animals have long been indispensable helpers of peasants and were used primarily for grazing. Other activities were not alien to them – many of them were trained to help fishermen pull nets out of the water and even for hunting, where they were used to pick up dead game.
Over time, the water breed was gradually forced out of the pastures by German and Belgian shepherds. By the beginning of the last century, isolated populations remained only in northern Spain (Asturias and Cantabria), as well as in western and southern Andalusia. It wasn’t until 1973 that the “perro de aqua español” (that’s how the name of this breed sounds in Spanish) attracted the attention of professional breeders who started breeding it and setting standards. Finally, in 1992, the breed standard was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale as number 336.
The Spanish Water Dog is considered to be the ancestor of all currently known water dog breeds, including the Portuguese.
According to the breed standard, its purebred representatives have certain external features.
- curly wool, which begins to twist into a cord with age. Color must be white, black or brown. Spots of white, black or brown are allowed on the coat.
- Height at the withers should be 40 to 50 cm for adult males and 38 to 45 cm for adult females. The weight of males should be in the range from 16 to 20 kg, while for females this figure should be from 12 to 16 kg.
- Head should be massive with a flat skull and a pronounced transition from the muzzle to the forehead. The nose should be dyed the same color as most of the animal’s coat.
- Eyes should be different shades of brown (from hazel to dark brown) and be at a relatively large distance from each other.
- Ears should be hanging and have a triangular shape.
- The dog must have wide and deep chest with prominent ribs. The back should be almost straight with a slightly sloping croup. The belly of these animals should not stick out. The neck should be short, but rather muscular.
- Paws should be powerful, and the pads on them should look like a cat’s.
If you want your dog to be allowed to show, then his tail must be docked (at level II or III of the caudal vertebrae). Also, no decorative haircuts are allowed for show dogs.
Properly educated representatives of the Spanish Water breed are distinguished by an affectionate and friendly character, which they show not only to the owner, but also to the rest of his family. Even to strangers, these pets show only caution instead of aggression.
At the same time, the dog has an independent disposition, so it is very important to start training it as early as possible, otherwise it may grow headstrong and uncontrollable.
These animals are strongly attached to the owner and do not tolerate separation from them. In addition, they feel the need for constant activity and rarely sit in one place. This is especially true for puppies, who can spend most of the day playing games.
The very name of this breed hints at their love for water procedures. Seeing a reservoir, the animal will joyfully rush to it, even if it is a small puddle. So that in rainy weather it is worth walking the “Spaniards” on a leash.
Despite a fairly good level of health and resistance to most diseases, this breed has several characteristic diseases, which can also be transmitted to offspring, namely:
- eye diseases – glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, distichiasis (the appearance of additional rows of eyelashes);
- thyroid disease;
- hypoadrenocorticism (insufficient secretion of adrenaline and cortisol);
- pancreatic insufficiency;
- various allergies;
- dysplasia (developmental disorder) of the hip joints.
Therefore, the pet should be regularly examined by a veterinarian, and special attention should be paid during examinations to the organs of vision and the endocrine system, since these systems are the least stable in Spanish water dogs.
Despite the love of these dogs for swimming, it is important to ensure that they do not spend too much time in cold water, otherwise partial or complete hearing loss is possible.
At an early age, puppies of this breed are often injured, so the owners should limit their level of activity, do not leave them alone for a long time.
The average life expectancy of these animals is 10 to 14 years.
Spanish Water Dogs are generally quite unpretentious. However, their energy and the need for physical activity determine the main requirement for the maintenance of the breed – a mandatory walking in the morning and evening for at least an hour.
The main feature of caring for these animals is that they do not need to be combed.. Their hair itself curls into curls and laces, and combing it will not only cause discomfort to the animal, but also spoil its appearance. Instead of combing, wool can be sheared (but not more than once a year). Grooming these dogs is purely optional and is required only if you are going to take your pet with you on a hunt. When clipping, please note that according to the breed standard, the length of the coat on the entire body of the animal should be the same.
It is also not recommended to bathe these pets too often. Bathing is recommended only when the dog is very dirty. Wash such a dog in warm water using a neutral pet shampoo. Dry wool preferably in the open air.
Vulnerabilities of this breed are the ears and eyes, so it is important to clean them regularly. Ears are cleaned at least once a week using cotton swabs that can be moistened with saline or veterinary lotion. Dogs need to wash their eyes at the first sign of inflammation or visible contamination. To do this, you can use gauze pads or cotton pads moistened with water, saline or lotion.
It is important to rinse the eyes with warm liquid – a procedure carried out with cold water can lead to the development of inflammation. Don’t forget to brush your pet’s teeth regularly.
Since until the 70s of the last century the breed was not considered as a decorative one and was used mainly in rural conditions, Spanish dogs do not have any special dietary requirements. It is important to follow the general recommendations for feeding dogs and include in the diet meat (not too fatty, preferably boiled), organ meats (liver, heart, kidneys, stomachs), buckwheat or rice cereals, boiled vegetables, low-fat sour-milk products (cottage cheese or kefir). It will not be superfluous to include sea fish in the diet, but not more than twice a week and always cleaned of bones.
The use of dry food, in particular, complete rations, is also not prohibited. It is important to change the water in the drinker at least once a day.
The main advantage of this pet is its friendliness towards both people and animals. Historically, these dogs have been accustomed to coexist with sheep, goats and other domestic animals, so outbreaks of aggression towards other animals are practically not found among Spanish mermen.
Another advantage of this breed of dog is that due to the relatively recent interest of professional breeders, this breed has not lost its herding and hunting instincts, which means that it can be recommended to owners of farms and hunting grounds where it can fully demonstrate its skills.
Dogs of this breed do not shed, which is good for cleanliness in the house.
The main disadvantage of the breed is natural energy and the need for regular physical activity. Walking with such a pet should be given more time (from two hours a day) than more calm dog breeds. Otherwise, the animal can misbehave at home, become depressed and even get sick.
Another disadvantage of Spanish dogs is energetic and independent character, because of which you need to spend a lot of time with the dog and carefully adjust its behavior, especially in the early stages of training. At the same time, due to the innate peacefulness, such a dog cannot be used as a watchdog.
Despite good health, this breed is susceptible to a number of dangerous diseases that are important to identify in the early stages, otherwise their vision, hearing or endocrine system will be irreparably damaged. With a general unpretentiousness in care, these dogs require constant monitoring of the condition of the ears and eyes.
Finally, the breed is not very common in Russia, so in order to get a purebred puppy, you will have to look for it for a long time (or order it in Spain), while paying from 650 to 2000 $.
See the next video for more about the features of the breed.