The Cantabrian Water Dog Dog: All You Need to Know

Are you looking for a canine companion that loves the water and has a friendly disposition? The Cantabrian Water Dog may be just the breed for you.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this charming breed – from origins to landrace traits to health concerns. 

Introduction to the Cantabrian Water Dog Breed

Origin and History

The Cantabrian Water Dog, also known as the Perro de Agua Cantabrian, is a landrace breed hailing from the northern region of Spain. The dog’s main purpose was to help fishermen – retrieve fishing nets, collect fish fallen back in the water, help with ship ropes, etc. 

The Cantabrian Water Dog was highly valued by the local communities, and its skills were passed down from generation to generation. However, with the advent of modern technology and changes in fishing practices, the breed’s importance began to decline.

By the early 20th century, the Cantabrian Water Dog had almost completely disappeared. Fortunately, a group of dedicated breeders worked tirelessly to revive the breed.

They scoured the region for any remaining dogs and began a breeding program to restore the breed to its former glory. Their efforts were successful, and today the Cantabrian Water Dog’s population is no longer in danger. 

Physical Characteristics

The Cantabrian Water Dog is a medium-sized dog that is both muscular and agile. The hallmark of the breed is the curly and woolly coat. Another unique trait is the webbed feet that allow effortless swimming. 

Size and Body Weight 

Male Cantabrian Water Dogs stand between 17 and 20 inches tall, and females around 16 to 18 inches. Males are taller, sturdier, and overall larger. Male breed members typically weigh around 42.5 pounds, and females 37.5 pounds. 

Coat and Colors 

The coat is thick, dense, curly, and woolly. It comes in a variety of colors, including cream, fawn, brown and white, and black and white. 

The curly coat requires moderate grooming. Regular bathing and occasional bathing are necessary to keep the skin & coat health in check. 

Temperament and Personality

One of the most notable traits of the Cantabrian Water Dog is its friendly and affectionate temperament. These dogs are known for forming strong bonds with their families and love nothing more than spending time with their humans.

They are also highly intelligent and trainable, which makes them excellent working dogs. Cantabrian Water Dogs have a natural instinct to work, and they thrive when given a job to do. They are well-suited for a variety of tasks, including hunting, herding, and search and rescue work. 

While this breed is generally friendly with all humans and other animals, it can be reserved with strangers. However, socialization helps mitigate this tendency. With proper training and socialization, the Cantabrian Water Dog can make an excellent family pet. 

The Cantabrian Water Dog as a Family Pet

Compatibility with Children and Other Pets

The Cantabrian Water Dog is generally a friendly and gentle breed that makes an excellent family pet. They get along well with children and other pets when properly socialized.

Space and Living Environment Requirements

While this breed does require regular exercise, they can adapt well to living in smaller spaces such as apartments or condos. However, they do best in homes with access to a yard or outdoor space where they can play and exercise.

The Ideal Family for a Cantabrian Water Dog

The ideal family for a Cantabrian Water Dog is one that is active and enjoys spending time outdoors. This breed thrives on physical activity, so they need owners who are willing to provide the exercise and stimulation they require. 

Caring for Your Cantabrian Water Dog

The Cantabrian Water Dog is a highly intelligent and trainable breed that requires proper care and attention to maintain its health and happiness. 

Grooming Requirements

Due to their thick and curly coat, Cantabrian Water Dogs require regular grooming to keep their coat healthy and tangle-free. It’s recommended to brush their coat at least once a week and bathe them every two to three months.

This will help to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated in their coat, as well as prevent any matting or tangling. The breed is also prone to ear infections.

Keeping their ears clean and dry is essential for preventing infections. You can use a cotton ball or soft cloth to gently clean their ears, being careful not to push any debris further into the ear canal.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Cantabrian Water Dog is a working breed that requires regular exercise and activity to stay healthy and happy. Daily walks and playtime are essential to keep these dogs mentally and physically stimulated.

In addition to walks and playtime, this breed also loves water and swimming. If you have access to a pool or lake, be sure to provide opportunities for them to indulge in this activity.

It’s important to note that this breed is not well-suited for apartment living. They require a large yard or open space to run and play, so living in a small space may cause them to become bored or restless.

Training and Socialization

As mentioned earlier, the Cantabrian Water Dog is highly intelligent and trainable. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. Start training at a young age to establish good behaviors and prevent bad habits. 

Socialization is also paramount. Cantabrian Water Dogs must be exposed to new people and environments to grow up into well-adjusted and socialized dogs. Obedience classes are excellent as they combine training and socialization. 

Diet and Nutrition

Like all dogs, the Cantabrian Water Dog requires balanced and nutritious food for optimal health. The exact food intake must be adjusted based on the dog’s age and physical activity. 

The breed is prone to weight gain, which is why you need to be consistent with food portions and must not overdo it with the treats. Also, do not give table scraps and human foods. 

Health Concerns and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

As with all breeds, the Cantabrian Water Dog is prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic condition in which there is a misfit between the hip joint bones, causing pain and mobility issues  
  • Eye Problems: Common eye issues in this breed include glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Ear Infections: The ear canal of this dog is hairy, which traps moisture and dirt, thus increasing the risk of frequent ear infections 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Regular veterinary care is essential for keeping your Cantabrian Water Dog healthy and happy. Annual checkups, vaccinations, and preventative care can help to detect and prevent health problems before they become severe.

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Cantabrian Water Dog is between 10 and 14 years. With adequate care, many breed members can live for over 14 years. 


The Cantabrian Water Dog is a unique and charming landrace with a long history and a bright future. If you’re considering adding one of these dogs to your family, be prepared to provide them with plenty of exercise, socialization, and grooming.

With the proper care and attention, the Cantabrian Water Dog can make a loving and devoted companion for many years to come. Just make sure you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. 

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