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Frequently Asked Questions

How are the Spanish Water Dog and the Portuguese Water Dog different?

Both the Portuguese Water Dog and the Spanish Water Dog are intelligent breeds. PWDs are primarily used as fisherman’s assistants. While some SWDs were used as fisherman’s assistants, the primary function of the SWD is herding and all around farm work. The Portuguese Water Dog is larger than the SWD. The PWD can have a curly or wavy coat; the SWD’s coat is always curly. The SWD traditionally has a docked tail, though some SWDs are born with a naturally short tail. The PWD has a long scimitar (curved) tail with a flag on the end. Some SWDs are born with a naturally short tail. The PWD’s coat requires brushing and regular grooming, whereas the SWD must never be brushed or combed. As puppies, PWDs may be more destructive and “mouthy”. While both breeds may be protective of their family, the SWD is more cautious with strangers and usually attaches itself to one member of the family, although s/he will be loyal to the whole family. The PWD usually gets along with all other dogs; the SWD prefers dogs in his own pack. The SWD is usually more focused on their owner and the task at hand than the PWD.

How big is the SWD?

The SWD is a medium sized dog and females are usually smaller than males. Females can be from about 16-18 inches and males can be 17 to 20 inches. Females are usually between 30 and 40 pounds and males are between 40 and 50 pounds.

Does the SWD shed?

The SWD is a single coated breed and does not shed its coat; however, it does loose hair, just like a human.

Is the SWD hypoallergenic and/or good for people with allergies?

While the SWD may be a low dander breed (cause for most allergies) because it does not shed its coat, it still may cause allergies in people that are allergic to dogs. Some people may be allergic to the saliva. If you are considering purchasing a SWD, you should try to spend some time with some to see if you have a reaction. The SWD may be hypoallergenic, meaning less allergies, but is not non-allergenic.

Is the SWD good with children?

While the SWD can be a great family dog if properly socialized, it should not be left unattended with small children. SWDs may try to herd anything that moves, including small children.

How much grooming is required for the SWD?

The SWD’s coat is never to be brushed or combed. The coat is traditionally sheared at least once a year, the same length all over. It can be sheared more often, depending on owner preference and what the SWD is used for. If cording is desired, it may take some work to establish the cords, however, once corded, it is fairly easy to maintain. (See Grooming for more information.)

What is the SWD temperament like?

The Spanish Water Dog is faithful, obedient, lively, hard working, and watchful. He is highly intelligent with an outstanding learning ability. His loyalty and protective instincts make him a self-appointed guardian to his owner, his family, and his property. He should be neither timid nor shy, but is naturally suspicious of strangers. Properly introduced, and given time, the Spanish Water Dog will accept strangers. He is very affectionate with his own people.

What health problems does the SWD have?

The SWD has many of the same health issues found in other breeds. Reported issues are: allergies, hip dysplasia, prcd-PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), and hypothyroidism. Other less frequently occurring reports include: EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), Addison's disease, congenital hypothyroidism with goiter, myasthenia gravis, glaucoma and seizures. (See SWDs Health for more details.)

Does the SWD need much exercise?

The SWD requires both physical and mental stimulation. As herding dogs, they were bred to do a “job”. They do need to be active and will require daily exercise. They are especially well suited to companion activities such as agility, rally, and obedience. The rustic and robust SWD will typically enjoy hiking, swimming, boating and more. If properly exercised, they are also quite content to sit by your side as you relax in your living room. (See SWDs in Action for more information.)

Is the SWD a good apartment dog?

Since the SWD is capable of “chilling” when the situation calls for it, they can and do live successfully in apartments. However, it is important to remember that will need daily exercise, lots of socialization and mental stimulation.

Are SWDs easy to train?

SWDs are highly intelligent dogs with a strong desire to please their owners. They are easy to train but they do require an experienced handler. SWDs need a strong pack leader and will fill that role themselves, if necessary. They were bred to herd and protect the flock. Their natural guard instincts can sometimes be hard to manage and they will try to control movement (people coming and going from the house, kids running, biking etc.). Owning an SWD can be challenging, especially for the novice handler. (See SWDs in Action for more information.)

Why are they called Water Dogs if their primary function is herding?

The SWD was known by many names in Spain. The most common was “Turco Andaluz” which means Andalucian Turkish Dog. The highest concentration of SWDs came from Andalucía where they were used as a shepherd dog. They were also known as “Perro de Aguas” (water dog) due to their love of the water. Some of the other names that they were known as were Perro Rizado (curly hair dog), Perro Turco (Turkish dog), Churro, and Barbeta.

How many SWDs are there in the United States, and where can they be found?

It is estimated that there are about 1,000 SWDs in the United States, although this is just an estimate since the majority are unregistered. There are SWDs found all over the country, including Hawaii and Alaska, with the highest concentration being in the North East.

Can the SWD adapt to any weather?

The SWD can adapt to any kind of weather, from torrid to frigid. (See Photos for SWDs in different environments.)

Where can I get information on activities with my Spanish Water Dog?

Club Members with questions or seeking mentorship in any of the following areas may contact the Club's Mentor Coordinator at swdca.mentorcoordinator@gmail.com.

agility, barn hunt, breeding, competition obedience, conformation showing, disk dog, dock diving, drafting, flyball, herding, musical canine freestyle, puppy stuff, rally obedience, dog surfing, therapy dog, tracking, and water work




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