Blog #7 – Iberian Water Dogs

I have always been interested in these working breeds as there was a time they used to be in abundance all across the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain). They were used for a multitude of tasks, from water dogs to farm work and hunting.

Where they lived and the job they did, played a massive part on the type of coat they had and their build. We now have the Portuguese Water Dog, Spanish Water Dog and a few other breeds in the region who all came from the same root stock.

The Spanish Water Dog of today was created from three different types of long haired working dogs in Spain. The Serrano type was a large, strong dog with a thick coat which had to work and live amongst herds of sheep and goats in the cold mountains of Spain. The Marismeno type was a lighter built dog found on warmer climates and therefore, had a lighter coat and was used to hunt aswell as work on farms. The third type was the Northern type also known as the Cantabria type which was used as a Water Dog by fishermen and therefore its coat and build was more of typical water dog. There is now talk of the Cantabria type becoming it’s own breed and becoming known as the Cantabria Water Dog.

I know that when the Portuguese Water Dog was being created there were dogs who had never seen water or never been in water were being used to create the Portuguese Water Dog solely as a water dog. Due to the breed being marketed solely as a water dog and breeding for that sole purpose, a lot of other types fell by the wayside and have now been lost. All that we are left with now is nothing more than a show pony. The Spanish Water Dog had up until recently avoided the show breeders and therefore even to this day you can find the three main types.

This is where a name can be very misleading as these dogs always came in various types and sizes and were expected to do a variety of functions in various terrains.

What’s concerning to me is that you will struggle to find a working Spanish Water Dog even its homeland. The breed is now becoming more and more popular as a show dog and puppies are being sold for prices as high as €1,500 per pup. I doubt that any local could afford them prices given that their average monthly income is nowhere near that. It’s clear that these dogs are being bred and marketed solely for foreigners who can afford such prices…

This is in my mind, the beginning of the end for the breed. It’s a shame as one of my favourite dogs growing up on my grandfathers farm was one of these types, money and greed will always ruin any breed.

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