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Code of Ethics



Below you will find the most current revision of the Code of Ethics of the Spanish Water Dog Club of America (SWDCA).  The Code’s nature is not punitive, rather it serves as a guideline that is informational and states the Spanish Water Dog Club of America’s accepted norm.

Recommendations that have changed from prior versions of this Code of Ethics are intended to be applied in a forward-looking manner. For example, previous screening examinations performed in accordance with a prior Code of Ethics while in effect will remain acceptable.  In all such circumstances, every reasonable effort should be made to parallel as closely as possible the spirit of the most current Code.

This Code will appear on the SWDCA website and in the new member packets.  New members, by their application, agree to abide by and follow the guidelines outlined in the Code of Ethics.  Current members, by their annual renewal, reaffirm their agreement to follow the guidelines of this Code.  The Spanish Water Dog Club of America endorses the following Code of Ethics for its members.


Members must ensure that their dogs are kept safe and under control at all times.  Members should properly train their dogs so that they are an asset to their community and not a nuisance.  Dogs must be maintained with their safety and good health in mind at all times. This includes adequate and appropriate attention, socialization, grooming, feeding, veterinary care, housing, and exercise.


Members should keep in mind that they and their dogs represent the breed, SWDCA, and the sport of purebred dogs in general.  They are expected to maintain good sportsmanship at all events and competitions, abiding by the applicable rules and regulations.  Members’ conduct should always be in accordance with the objectives and intent of the SWDCA Bylaws (available at www.swdclub.org).

Members are urged to accept the Spanish Water Dog Breed Standard as approved by the American Kennel Club (AKC), as the description of the ideal temperament and physical qualities by which the breed is to be judged.  Members are also encouraged to take opportunities when available to educate the public about the breed and the SWDCA.


General Guidelines

I.  Overview

SWDCA members who breed Spanish Water Dogs are encouraged to maintain the purpose of the breed; that is:
Recognizing that the Spanish Water Dog breed was developed as a multi-purpose farm dog, to encourage improvement by careful and selective breeding of Spanish Water Dogs that possess the appearance, structure, soundness, temperament, natural ability, and personality that are characterized in the standard of the breed, and to do all possible to advance and promote these qualities. Breeders should not knowingly breed any dog who has genetic defects which are life-changing disorders.  These include seizures caused by epilepsy, genetic orthopedic disorders such as hip dysplasia, and temperament issues. Not only do these disorders require lifetime management, but they impact the dog’s health, alter the lifestyle of the dog and owner, and often shorten the dog’s life expectancy.

II.  Dealing with Others

Owners of dogs involved in a breeding or sale should ensure that appropriate documentation is readily available to the public regarding results of screening as recommended by CHIC (Canine Health Information Center).  If any such examinations have not been done, this should be stated; and any past or present health or temperament concerns should be disclosed. Submission of health information, both normal and abnormal, to the OFA online database is encouraged.

III.   Responsibilities to the Dogs

Members who breed should sell puppies, permit stud service, and/or lease dogs only to individuals who give satisfactory evidence that they will give proper care and attention to the dogs concerned, and who may be expected to act within the intent of the statements of this Code of Ethics.  Members should not sell dogs at auction, or to brokers or commercial dealers.  Breeders should understand that they may need to take back, or assist in finding a new home for any dog they produce at any time in its life, if requested to do so.

IV.  Record keeping

SWDCA members are encouraged to follow AKC requirements for record keeping, identification of dogs, and registration procedures.  They should use clear, concise, written contracts to document the sale of dogs, use of stud dogs, and lease arrangements; including the use, when appropriate, of non-breeding agreements and/or Limited Registration.  All litters should be registered with the American Kennel Club

General Breeding Guidelines

I.  Dogs selected for breeding should:

  1. Ideally, be of temperament typical of the breed, i.e., stable, trainable, and willing to work.  Temperament is of utmost importance to the breed and must never be neglected or altered from the Standard.
  2. Be of conformation typical of the breed.
  3. Be in overall good health, and be physically and mentally mature (which is generally not until two years of age).
  4. Possess examination reports and certifications as outlined below.

II.   The following reports are acceptable:

Recommended tests as of 4/13/2015

  1. Hips – a report from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) at 24 months of age or older; or PennHIP at 4 months of age or older; or OVC.
  2. Eyes – a report from a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology.  Examinations should be done within 12 months prior to a breeding. Dogs that produce offspring should continue to have ophthalmology examinations on a yearly basis for their lifetime.
  3. prcd –PRA—a report from OptiGen
  4. Compensative Autoimmune Thyroiditis— full OFA thyroid report from an approved laboratory at 24 months of age or older.

Optional tests as of 4/13/2015

  1. Elbows – a report from the OFA at 24 months of age or older.
  2. Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goiter (CHG)— DNA panel through Dr. John Fyfe, Michigan State University

** Any dog residing outside of the United States used for breeding should parallel as closely as possible the most up to date health evaluations as recommended by the SWDCA

DNA Tests

DNA tests are available for several diseases that affect Spanish Water Dogs (such as for prcd-PRA, CHG), and more will certainly be added over time.  The SWDCA Health & Wellness Committee anticipates releasing advisory statements as new DNA tests become available.  However, in a general sense, the decision to test or not should include considerations such as: the seriousness of the disease, the reliability of the test, the prevalence of the disease in the breed, and the presence of affected or carrier dogs in the vertical pedigree.  The ideal use of DNA tests is to prevent producing affected puppies, while at the same time maintaining genetic diversity and gradually decreasing the prevalence of the disease gene(s) in the breed.

Other Considerations

Consideration should also be given to other conditions that may have a genetic component, including but not limited to:  cancer, epilepsy, skin disorders, allergies, longevity, swallowing disorders, and orthopedic disorders. Good breeding decisions must balance many factors, recognizing that no dog is genetically perfect; that maintaining a rich and diverse gene pool is important for the long-term health of the breed.  It is suggested that breeders give the highest health priority to selection against heritable disorders that significantly decrease quality of life and that have the greatest likelihood for improvement through careful breeding decisions.  SWDCA members’ highest motivation is their love for their dogs, and difficult decisions should be resolved in a manner that places the best interests of the dogs and the breed at the forefront.

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