Although there are those who consider the Spanish Water Dog is a relatively recent breed, in fact it can trace it’s history back several hundred years, certainly as far back as the Middle Ages and possibly to Roman Times. There are several different theories as to it’s origin but the most accepted is that it was introduced by the Turks, who traded in sheep and used them as sheepdogs. In Spain it is often called the Andalucian Turk. It is believed that there are strong genetic links with the French Barbet, Spaniels, the Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog and that the Spanish Water Dog is an ancestor of the Irish Water Spaniel.
Until very recently the Spanish Water Dog was kept in relative isolation in rural areas of Spain, away from crossbreeding and interbreeding with other dogs. The breed was developed in three separate areas of Spain, giving rise to three types. The dogs were used for a variety of tasks, being called upon to work wherever a dog was required. They were used as sheepdogs to move the flocks of sheep or goats from one pasture to another. They accompanied fishermen in their boats and would retrieve equipment from the water, bring in stray fish that had escaped from the nets, carry a tow rope to the shore for the boat to be pulled in and guard the catch once it was landed. These dogs would also be taken hunting and would be used as retrievers, particularly in the water. The breed is particularly noted for its ability to dive underwater and remain at depth for some time. A depth of six metres has been recorded.
The Revival of the Breed
In 1975, two enthusiasts, Antonio Garcia Perez and Santiago Montesinos travelled around the countryside of Southern Spain, through the remote villages and farms of the mountainous region of Andalucia and bought or borrowed a number of dogs that they felt most fitted the type they were looking for to establish a breeding programme.
In 1980 the Spanish Water Dog Club(Spain) was formed in order to promote the breed and help get it recognised in its own country.
In 1985, after a lot of hard work and displaying the breed at various venues and dog shows the Spanish Kennel Club accepted it and gave it official status.
Introduction to England
A number of years ago four friends, visiting the World Dog Show in Valencia, were particularly attracted to a native Spanish breed appearing both in the show ring and as part of a demonstration in the main arena. These four people immediately recognised the potential of the dogs and formed a partnership in order to research the breed, acquire some dogs and import them into this country. The first two Spanish Water Dogs arrived in this country in 1992 to be followed by two more at a later date. And so, by working together on a breeding programme the breed was carefully established over here and the resultant progeny were trained in a variety of fields.