The Spanish Water Dog is an ancient breed. Its exact origins are not precisely known. One theory suggests that the SWDs’ ancestor was a wooly-coated dog that originated in North Africa. These dogs were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors during their occupation (710-1036). It is also thought that these dogs might have come with the barbarians. Therefore this Asian origin might have giving rise to the common (Trunk) of water dogs. It is documented that by 1100 a wooly-coated shepherd dog existed throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Great numbers populated Andalusia where the dog was used as a shepherd dog and where the dog was known for centuries as the Turkish dog. It was primarily used to herd goats, sheep and other livestock. Additionally, they worked upland game and waterfowl retrieving, and some worked as assistants to fishermen.
In the mid 1970s Antonio Garcia Perez and Santiago Montesinos began efforts to get the SWD recognized as a pure breed. In 1985, the breed was officially recognized and admitted into the Fédération Cynologique Internationale registry under Group 8 Section 336.
The breed is primarily a herding dog. The Spanish Water Dogs characteristics, most particularly the quality of his coat, are adapted to the variation of humidity and drought of the marshy regions, which qualities his as a shepherd dog and as a help to the hunters of waterfowl and the fishermen in those regions. Credit must be given to the goat and sheep herders of southern Spain that have bred and maintained the breed that we know today. Most recently the SWD is being employed by the Spanish Government as a bomb and drug detection dog as well as a rescue dog.