Spanish Water Dog

Known in its homeland as El Perro de Agua de Espagnol, La Mesta or La Medera, this ancient breed was not only employed as a waterfowl retriever, but was also required to carry out an important annual sheep-herding task.


The Spanish Water Dog is an excessively shaggy dog, reminiscent of the French Barbet and probably an ancient relative of it. Its coat is so heavy that it would seem highly unsuitable for a swimming breed but despite this, with its webbed feet, it is said to be able to progress efficiently under water. It has even been known to descend to a depth of 10 ft (3 m).

In its special, occasional role as a herding dog, the Spanish Water Dog was required, each spring, to shepherd large flocks of sheep from the hot south of Spain to the cooler north and then, at the end of the scorching summer months, to guide them back south again for the winter. As with so many traditional working animals, these once important duties were eventually overtaken by modern technological advances in the transportation of livestock.


The thick, curly coat, with a tendency to cord, like some Hungarian breeds, is seen in solid colours, either black, brown or pale fawn. Standing at only 16—19 in (41—48 cm) high, this is a rather small dog for the water-retrieving and herding tasks it must perform. Although it has occasionally appeared at European dog shows, the Spanish Water Dog remains a rare breed.

Gallery of Spanish Water Dog