The Breed Standard

The Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that it is fit for function.  It is the blueprint that breeders use in trying to acheive what is deemed as the perfect example of the breed, and in doing so helps to maintain the integrity of the dog to its origins.  In the UK the Spanish Water Dog as a breed and its standard are within the Gundog Group category.

The basis of breed shows is the judging of pedigree dogs against the 'Breed Standard', which is a picture in words that describes each breed of pedigree dog. For all licensed breed shows, the Kennel Club Breed Standards must be used for the judging of pedigree dogs.

The Breed Standards are owned by the Kennel Club, and all changes are subject to approval by the Kennel Club General Committee. Careful research is conducted into the historical background, health and temperament of each breed before Kennel Club recognition is granted.  Upon recognition, breeds are placed on the Imported Breed Register until they are deemed eligible for transferral to the Breed Register. 

 

In 2008 the Spanish Water Dog was transferred from the Import register and placed on the Breed Register,  allowing it to be judged in its own designated breed class.

The Breed Standard is broken down into sections, looking at each part of the anatomy, temperament and movement of the Spanish Water Dog. 

 

Scroll down to view the various sections, or if you wish to view a particular aspect of the breed you can navigate directly to it using the menu below.  You can also  click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

General Appearance

'Robust, medium sized, well muscled due to constant activity. Distinctive coat'

An ancient and natural breed of the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish Water Dog is a sturdy medium sized, well proportioned athlete.  Length slightly greater that height at withers.  His distinctive tightly curled coat, of natural rustic appearance, has developed to provide protection from all elements.

Spanish Water Dog in Rustic Coat

Figure 1

Spanish Water Dog in Rustic Coat

Figure 2

Spanish Water Dog in Rustic Coat

Figure 3

Figures 1, 2 and 3 show examples of Spanish Water Dogs in their rustic corded coats.

Spanish Water Dog in short clipped coat

Figure 4

Figure 4 - Shows an example of a Spanish Water Dog that has just had its coat clipped. In figure 4 it is much easier to see the true outline of the breed when it is in the shorter coat.  This is why it is even more important for judges to do a thorough hands on examination beneath a dog in full coat to discern the true structure of the dog.

Parts of the Spanish Water Dog

Figure 5

Figure 5 - Details the different parts of the dog and also demonstrates how the natural outline of the dog becomes concealed below the coat as it grows in length.  Points on this diagram are referred to throughout the remainder of the breed standard.

Characteristics

'A herding, hunting and fishing dog with well developed sense of smell, sight and sound.  Has great learning capability and adapts to almost all situations.'

An intelligent, herding , hunting and retrieving dog with well developed sense of smell, sight and hearing.  They are hard working, watchful, well balanced breed, but could show some guarding instincts.  They have great learning capability owing to their extraordinary mental grasp and are capable of adapting to almost all situations.

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9

Figures 6 through 9 showing the natural working characteristic of the Spanish Water Dog through various hunt and retrieves. 

 

Figure 6 - shows the retrieving a dummy, which can form part of the Gundog Working Test (GWT)

Figure 7 - demonstrates a spanish water dog showing its natural working instinct to retrieve fish from the water, part of the original role it was adopted for in Northern Spain.

Figure 8 - a game retrieve, which can also form part of a Gundog Field Trial.

Figure 9 - shows the breeds natural aptitude for a water retrieve.

 
 

Temperament

'Faithful, obedient, brave, good tempered and gay.'

Faithful, lively, hardworking, watchful and courageous.  Can exhibit independent characteristics; can be reserved with strangers.

Spanish Water Dog seaching in an earthquake for survivors

Figure 10

Media reporting from Colombia o how a Spanish Water Dog was used to find survivors in an earthquake.

Figure 11

Spanish Water Dog notifying it has found survivors from an earthquake.

Figure 12

In Figures 10, 11 and 12 it can be seen how versatile the Spanish Water Dog breed can be.  In these images they are used to conduct search and recover operations for human survivors  following earthquakes.

 

Head and Skull

'Strong and elegant with parallel planes of skull and muzzle.  Flat skull, slight stop.  Occiput not prominent.  Length from eye to back of skull slightly longer than from tip of nose to eye (3:2).  Nose should have well open nostrils.  Pigmentation of the same colour or darker than the coat.  Corners of lips well defined.'

The head is in balance, carried with elegance in proportion with the body, with parallel planes of skull and muzzle.  Flat skull with slight stop and the occiput not prominent.  Length from nose to stop and stop to occiput is in ratio of 2:3 respectively.  The nose should have open nostrils with the pigmentation of the nose the same colour or darker than that of the coat.  Corners of the lips should be well defined and well fitted.

Figure 13

Spanish Water Dog Head & Skull proportions, nose to stop and stop to occiput are in a ration of 2:3

Figure 14

Spanish Water Dog - an incorectexample o the head and skull ratio which should be 2:3 fromnose to stop and stop to occiput respectively.

Figure 15

Figures 13 & 14 -  These show profiles of the head and skull of the breed.  The numbers 20, 1, 2 and 3 on the images correspond to the points shown in Figure 5 (under general appearance).  No. 20 is the nose, no.1 the forface or muzzle, no.2 the Stop and no.3 the Occiput. The length of point 20 (nose) to point 2 (stop) and point 2 (stop) to point 3 (occiput) should be in a ratio of 2:3 respectively.

Figure 15 - The head and skull in this image are disproportionate to the breed standard, with the measurement of nose to stop equal to or exceeding that of stop to occiput.

Eyes

'Medium-sized, oval shaped, neither prominent nor sunken.  Very expressive. Set slightly oblique and well apart.  Hazel or dark brown depending on coat colour.  Haws not visible.'

Spanish Water Dog Eyes
Spanish Water Dog Eyes

Figure 17

Figure 16

Figures 16 & 17 -  Showing examples of eye colour and shape.

 
 

Ears

'Dropped, v-shaped, slightly rounded at tip; medium sized, set slightly above level of eye.'

Spanish Water Dog Ear Set

Figure 18

Spanish Water Dog Ears

Figure 19

Figure 18 -  In this image the correct set of the ear can be seen.  The green line indicates the level of eye, whilst the pink line that sits slightly above it shows the level at which the ear is set.

Figure 19 - Gives an example of the v shape of the ear with rounded tip at the bottom of the drop.

 

Mouth

'Strong jaw with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaw, with full dentition.'

A level bite is acceptable but a scissor bite is always preferred.

Tyoes of bite - the correct one beingthe Scissor Bite

Figure 20

Figure 20 - Variations of bite.  The scissor bite on the left of the image is the preferred bite, with the upper layer of dentition closely overlapping the lower.  The level bite is acceptable but the less preferred bite.  Both undershot and overshot bites are considered faults.

 

Neck

'Short, muscular and without dewlap.  Set well into the shoulders.'

Spanish Water Dog Neck - Short and Muscular

Figure 21

Spanish Water Dog Neck - Slightly elongated to that required of the breed standard

Figure 22

Figure 21 - An example of the short muscular neck of the breed.

Figure 22 - Although still muscular, a neck that is slightly more elongated in proportion to the rest of the body than that which would be preferred.

Forequarters

'Good angulation of shoulder and upper arm.  Well muscled. Elbows set close to body.  Legs straight and parallel.  Strong but not heavy bone.'

The breadth of the chest should be moderate; not as wide as a Bulldog nor as narrow as a Laggotto Romagnolo.

Spanish Water Dog Forequarters

Figure 23

Spanish WaterDog Corrent Forequaters

Figure 24

Spanish Water Dog incorrect forequarters

Figure 25

Spanish Water Dog incorrect forequarters

Figure 26

Figure 23 - This image demonstrates the correct proportions of the breed's forequarters. The orange triangle highlights that the point of  shoulder to withers should be the same length and at 90 degrees angle to the point of shoulder to elbow.  Length of leg from elbow to floor should be the same as from elbow to withers.

Figure 24 - A correct front.  Forearms should be medium sized, well under body from all views  with front legs straight when viewed from the front. Chest is moderate, neither too wide or too narrow.

Figure 25 - The chest in this example is considerably wider than the breed standard, giving it an appearance similar to that of a bulldog.  A wide chest can compromise the athleticism of the breed and affect its ability to perform a full days work.

Figure 26 - An example of  narrower front with legs closer together than that which would be considered to meet the breed standard.

Body

'Level back; withers very slightly higher than level of back.  Chest deep with well sprung ribs.  Brisket reaching to elbows and providing important heart and lung room.  Height to elbow about half height at withers.  Slightly longer in body (measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock) than from withers to ground (9:8).'

Well muscled, firm and of medium length.  In natural stance the topline appears level.  Ribs well sprung.  Chest deep and strong, but not too broad, the deepest point being just behind and level with the elbows.  the loin is broad and strong.  Slight tuck up and slight slope of croup.  From withers to brisket should be half the height of the dog.  In profile, the body is slightly longer from withers to base of tail than from withers to ground (9:8).

Figure 27

Figure 28

Figure 29

Figure 27 - This image shows the correct profile of the body with it being very slightly longer from withers to base of tail than from withers to ground.  (9:8)

Figure 28 - The length of withers to brisket should be equal to that of  brisket to ground.

Figure 29 - The tuck up of the dog in this image is over pronounced and considered incorrect.

Hindquarters

'Moderately angled.  Thighs large and well muscled.  Second thighs well developed.  Hocks well let down.'

Hindquarters should be in balance with the forequarters and moderately angulated.  When standing and viewed from the rear, the hind legs are moderately spaced and parallel.  The upper thighs are well muscled and powerful, second thighs well developed, hock joint well defined and set low to the ground turning neither in nor out.  This will provide the power when working.  Legs striaght when viewed from behind.

Spanish Water Dog Correct Hindquarters

Figure 30

Spanish Water Dog over angulated Hindquarters

Figure 31

Figure 30 - Correctly balanced hindquarters with moderate angulation.

Figure 31 - Overly angualted hindquarters.

 
 
 
 

Feet

'Round, tight.  Toenails may vary in colour.  Strong pads.'

Medium sized, oval with tight, well arched toes with some degree of webbing.  Pads thick and resilient.  Nails strong and may vary in colour.

Figure 32

Figure 33

Figure 34

 

Figure 32 - An example of the foot on a male

Figure 33 - The thick pads in oval shape on a young female.

Figure 34 - Although difficult to fully observe due to coat growing on the foot, in this image the webbing between the two digital pads (toes) can be seen.  This aids the Spanish Water Dog's natural ability to swim in water.  Note also the black nails, although colour can vary and some nails can appear clear.  The presence of nails are also important in the breed as they allow them to achieve extra purchase when being worked such as moving brush to complete a retrieve.

Tail

'Previously customarily docked or natural bobtail.

 

Docked: Medium set.  When attentive, decidedly raised, preferably never carried above level of back.

 

Undocked:  Medium set, tapering towards the end.  When extended, barely reaching the hock.  At rest, carried scimitar-like.  When attentive, decidedly raised, preferably never carried above level of back.  Never curled '

Figure 35

Tail 1.JPG

Figure 36

Figure 37

 

Figure 35 - The preferred tail carriage position, scimitar like.

Figure 36 - A less desirable tail that is curled over level back.

Figure 37 - An example of a natural bobtail.  A natural bobtail can be distinguished from a docked tail by examination of the skin on the tail.  The skin at the end of a natural bobtail will be smooth without disruption whereas a docked tail will exhibit signs of pinching.  Only legally docked dogs born before the 6th April 2007 can be shown .  Dogs legally docked on or after this date are not eligible to be shown.  It is also important when judging bobtails against tailed dogs to consider the set of the bobtail and the potential line the tail may take from that set.

Gait/Movement

'Brisk, sound and athletic, with powerful drive.'

Brisk, sound and athletic with purposeful action giving the impression of latent power.  Topline should be firm with no wasted energy on the move.  When trotting, legs move in parallel, but as speed increases, feet will have a tendency to converge towards the centre line.

Figure 38

 

Figure 38 - A side view of a Spanish Water Dog in motion with brisk, open movement and a powerful drive.

Spanish Water Dog Gait

Figure 39

Spanish Water Dog Gait

Figure 40

Figure 39 & 40 - Front and rear diagrams demonstrating how in movement at the correct speed, front and rear legs should converge towards the centre line to give power and drive.

Coat

'Always curled of a consistently woolly texture, forming cords when long.  May be clipped overall but no aesthetic clip allowed (i.e. the coat should be the same length all over).'

The wool must not be brushed or combed but left natural for a rustic appearance.  The coat is dense and curly, more so when short.  Traditionally clipped at least once a year.  As the coat grows it forms tight ringlets of curls which taper to a wispy point and the curls are teased apart by hand as they thicken.  This gives the appearance of cords but is never felted, hard, heavy or blunt cut at the ends.  The texture (and lightness) of the coat affords buoyancy when the dog is working in water.  It is of utmost importance that the true rustic nature of the coat is maintained to provide full protection in all weathers and working conditions.  The length should vary from 3cms minimum to 12 cms maximum and any length within these parameters should be considered correct.

Figure 41

Figure 42

Figure 43

Figure 44

Figures 41 to 44 - Four examples of natural coats at slightly different lengths exhibiting wispy ends. It's also important to note that there will be slightly different textures to coats.  White coats tend to, although not always, have a finer texture than darker coloured coats.  The thickness of the ringlets as the coat grows can also differ between different dogs depending on the texture.

Colour

'Solid black, brown or white of various shades; black and white or brown and white (particolour) but never tricoloured.'

Solid colours, black (pale grey through to deepest black), brown (very light brown through to dark brown, including what we term as gold or sandy), white; any of the aforementioned solid colours with white (parti-colour).  Fading of coat colour over time is genetic trait within the breed which can affect some dogs, but should not be considered as a fault to those that exhibit it.

Figure 50

 

Figure 50 - Various examples of different coat colour of Spanish Water Dogs. Note also the difference textures of coat, which can vary depending on age of dog, colouring and breed line.

Size

'Height:

Dogs 44-50cms (171/2 - 191/2 inches);

Bitches 40-46cms (151/2-18inches).'

Weight

'Dogs 18-22kgs (40-48lbs);

 Bitches 14-18kg (31-40 lbs).'

Faults

'Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.'

Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles full descended into the scrotum.

Coat

'Always curled of a consistently woolly texture, forming cords when long.  May be clipped overall but no aesthetic clip allowed (i.e. the coat should be the same length all over).'

The wool must not be brushed or combed but left natural for a rustic appearance.  The coat is dense and curly, more so when short.  Traditionally clipped at least once a year.  As the coat grows it forms tight ringlets of curls which taper to a wispy point and the curls are teased apart by hand as they thicken.  This gives the appearance of cords but is never felted, hard, heavy or blunt cut at the ends.  The texture (and lightness) of the coat affords buoyancy when the dog is working in water.  It is of utmost importance that the true rustic nature of the coat is maintained to provide full protection in all weathers and working conditions.  The length should vary from 3cms minimum to 12 cms maximum and any length within these parameters should be considered correct.

Spanish Water Dog Coat

Figure 41

Spanish Water Dog correct coat

Figure 42

Spanish Water Dog coat

Figure 43

Figure 44

Figures 41 to 44 - Four examples of natural coats at slightly different lengths exhibiting wispy ends. It's also important to note that there will be slightly different textures to coats.  White coats tend to, although not always, have a finer texture than darker coloured coats.  The thickness of the ringlets as the coat grows can also differ between different dogs depending on the texture.

Incorrect Spanish Water Dog Coat

Figure 45

Incorrect Spanish Water Dog Coat

Figure 46

Figures 45 & 46 - These two images show a coat that has been aesthetically trimmed whilst at length.  Although maintaining the base of the corded structure, in cutting the coat it eradicates the wispy ends thus destroying the natural rustic appearance of the breed.  Note the particularly blunt ends seen in figure 46 which are heavily pressed and felted together as a result of this procedure.  In Figure 45 there is a clearly defined outline shape to the dog that has developed as a result of shaping the coat.  Both of these examples go against the breed standard of keeping the coat natural.

Spanish Water Dog Coat / Cords

Figure 47

Figure 48

Spanish Water Dog Coat

Figure 49

 

Figure 47 - Here it can be seen how the individual fibres of the coat twist into one another to form thicker cords as the coat grows out.  Notice also that these taper towards the end until there are only few fibres which provide the wispy ends demonstrating natural, growth, which would not be present in aesthetically trimmed coat.

Figure 48 - Observation of a naturally forming cord compared to one that has recently been cut.  The cord on the right has a natural taper end to it that meets the breed standard for a growing coat.  The left cord demonstrates the squareness following a recent cut that should not be present.  Although the end fibres of the left cord are not entwined yet in this image, over time they would become heavy and felted whilst retaining their bluntness which goes against the breed standard.

Figure 49 - An image of a coat with both blunt cut ends and naturally forming ends for the purpose of comparison.  In the red circle the lat, almost square ends are pressed together and heavy demonstrating aesthetic trimming, whilst in the yellow circle the wispy ends on cords left to grow naturally can be seen.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Spanish Water Dog Club is proud to be  recognised as the only official Kennel Club Breed Club for the Spanish Water Dog in the UK.

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