Types of Water Dog Breeds

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: January 11, 2022
Image Credit Dan_Manila/Shutterstock.com
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Water dogs are hunting dogs used to flush and retrieve birds and other game from water. An ancient dog type, they were also used by mariners to send messages between boats and recover objects lost at sea. They became the ancestors of modern retrievers. There are many breeds of water dogs ranging from the ancient Barbet to the American Water Spaniel, and even the Poodle. Here is information about 10 different types of water dog breeds.

1. Irish Water Spaniel

Types of water dogs - Irish Water Spaniel
Typical Irish Water Spaniel in the spring garden. These types of water dogs are known as the clowns of the spaniel family.

Nikolai Belyakov/Shutterstock.com

Also called: Rat Tail Spaniel, Shannon Spaniel, Rat Tail Spaniel, Whiptail, and Bog Dog

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The Irish Water Spaniel at first glance resembles another water dog breed, the Poodle. This breed is native to Ireland. The tallest spaniel around, it is also the oldest and most unique of the water dogs. Athletic, versatile, intelligent, fun-loving, powerful, and loyal, it is called “the best-kept secret of the dog world.” It can retrieve birds on water or land alike.

2. American Water Spaniel

Types of water dogs - American Water Spaniel
American Water Spaniel resting. This type of water dog is the state dog of Wisconsin.

Steve Bruckmann/Shutterstock.com

Also called: American Brown Water Spaniel and American Brown Spaniel

As you might have guessed from the breed being American, the American Water Spaniel is relatively new compared to other types of spaniels. It was developed in the 19th century in the state of Wisconsin from two spaniel breeds: the Irish Water Spaniel and the extinct English Water Spaniel. This breed can work on both land and water. Although it is Wisconsin’s state dog, it is a rare breed. Today, there are only 3,000 dogs and if you want one, you will likely have to go on a waiting list.

3. Poodle

Types of water dogs - Poodle
Cute white male poodle resting on the grass. These types of water dogs have always been used as water dogs as well as companion dogs.

iStock.com/tsik

Also called: Pudelhund (Germany) and Caniche (France)

The Poodle is a popular dog breed in the United States. And unless they are hunters or dog aficionados, most people do not know it is a water dog. The funny thing is that German and French people both believe that the dog originated in their countries. The medium-sized poodle is not universally recognized, and the medium, miniature, and toy sizes were developed in France from the original standard-sized poodle in order to be companion dogs and circus performers. Standard poodles have always been used as water dogs as well as companion dogs. If you’ve heard that poodles can be mean, it’s usually the miniature and toy poodles, who are said to have a Napoleon complex. The breed is known to be intelligent, energetic, athletic, and sociable.

4. Wetterhoun

Types of water dogs - Wetterhoun
A black and white Friese Stabij Wetterhoun dog lying on the grass in a garden, on a sunny day. These types of water dogs were used to retrieve waterfowl and small mammals in the Friesland province.

Tales by Pictures/Shutterstock.com

Also called: Otterhoun (Netherlands), Frisian Water Dog, and Dutch Spaniel

Originating in the Netherlands, the Wetterhoun was used to retrieve waterfowl and small mammals in the Friesland province. Its name in Dutch literally translates to “water dog. Sometimes, it is confused for the Otterhound, which is a British dog breed. Developed over 400 years ago, it is believed to have been created from the Old Water Dog and Gypsy dogs. The land and water retriever is reserved, protective, and strong-willed but not aggressive, making it an excellent family dog.

5. Spanish Water Dog

Types of water dogs - Spanish Water Dog
A Spanish water dog running on a beach. This type of water dog is diligent and excels at any task you put it to.

otsphoto/Shutterstock.com

Also called: Perro de agua Español

The Spanish Water Dog looks adorable and cuddly, and while it’s affectionate, intelligent, and loyal, don’t be fooled: It’s sturdy, athletic, and inexhaustible. This breed is a retriever of waterfowl as well as a sheepdog herder and home guard dog. In Spain, there were three different types depending on size, build, and coat. This breed is diligent and excels at any task you put it to. It’s also an excellent companion dog and with early socialization, it can get along very well with small children.

6. Cantabrian Water Dog

Types of water dogs - Cantabrian Water Dog
The Cantabrian water dog is a type of water dog that was used as a helper of fishermen by retrieving fallen fish, acting as a lifeguard, taking the rope between ships, or watching ships.

PhotoStk/Shutterstock.com

Also called: Perro de lanas, perro de agua cantábrico, and Merlucero (Spain)

Just one of the water dogs hailing from Spain, the Cantabrian Water Dog originates in Cantabria in the north of the country. It was used as a helper of fishermen by retrieving fallen fish, acting as a lifeguard, taking the rope between ships, or watching ships. One of its common names, “perro de lanas,” translates to “wool dog” and true to its name, its fur is very curly. The ancient breed is genetically related to a few other water dog breeds: the Spanish Water Dog, Barbet, and Poodle. What distinguishes it from the Spanish Water Dog is that it’s shorter and lighter. This dog loves water and although it’s not well-known outside of the country, it’s beloved by the Spanish people.

7. Portuguese Water Dog

Types of water dogs - Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water Dog laying on the bow of the boat on the lake. These types of water dogs were used as fishermen’s helpers to act as couriers from ship to shore or ship to ship.

Lynda McFaul/Shutterstock.com

Also called: Cão de agua Algarvio, aão pescador Português, and cão de agua Português

One of the Portuguese Water Dog’s nicknames is “dog of Algarve water,” while another is “Portuguese fishing dog.” This breed originates from the Algarve region of Portugal. It was used as a fishermen’s helper to act as a courier from ship to shore or ship to ship, herd fish into fishing nets, and retrieve broken nets and lost tackles. The rare dog is related to the Spanish Water Dog. It is intelligent, enthusiastic, robust, obedient, loving, agile, and independent. Although it’s quiet, it vocalizes to alert its owner with a multi-octave voice and can be used as a hearing-aid dog. It also can learn complex commands and has a long memory for objects.

8. Lagotto Romagnolo

Types of water dogs - Lagotto Romagnolo
A Lagotto Romagnolo standing at the water’s edge. These types of water dogs have been used to search for truffles, giving it the nickname “truffle dog.”

Grapsole79/Shutterstock.com

Also called: Water Dog of Romagna and Romagna Water Dog (Italy)

The Lagotto Romagnolo is an Italian dog breed originating from the Romagna sub-region of the country. Its name means “Romagna water dog.” First used as a duck retriever, since the 19th century it has been used to search for truffles, giving it the nickname “truffle dog.” This adorable, hard worker has an excellent sense of smell. Most water dogs are medium-sized, and this one is small to medium. One of the rarest dog breeds, there are about 2,000 worldwide and 500 in the United States.

9. Pudelpointer

Types of water dogs - Pudelpointer
The Pudelpointer is a type of water dog that originated from the Pudel, or German Hunting Poodle, the English Pointer, and other Pointing breeds. 

Chamois huntress/Shutterstock.com

Suitable for both land and water retrieving, the Pudelpointer is a cross between the English Pointer and the German Poodle. Such ancestry makes it an equally excellent tracker, pointer, and retriever. It is calm, disciplined, intelligent, trainable, and willing to please, in addition to having a love of water and retrieving instinct. It can also cover a lot of ground and is tireless.

10. Barbet

Types of water dogs - Barbet
The Barbet is a type of water dog that is happy, intelligent, sociable, active, quick to learn, and great with families and people of all ages.

John_Silver/Shutterstock.com

Also called: French Water Dog

The Barbet‘s name is a form of “barbe” which means “beard.” This rare breed is happy, intelligent, sociable, active, quick to learn, and great with families and people of all ages. It needs daily exercise and lifelong obedience training to give it the physical and mental stimulation it needs.

List of the Types of Water Dogs

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