When Antonio Garcia discovered this race of dogs, more than some 40 years ago, he was a boy . . . the grandson of an old Shepard, which day after day used his dogs “Tarzan” and “mora” to gathered and order his flock into their coral.
His grandparents and his uncles, today in their eighties have used Spanish Waterdogs as helpers to control and protect their flocks of sheep, lambs, pigs, and cattle.
There is no other reason for the long conservation and existence of this breed throughout all these years except for their great level of usefulness as work animals.
In these farmlands, passed down from generation to generation for more than 300 years, Spanish Waterdogs have been used as sheep dogs. Here we have found the remains of three century old dogs with the exact same physical skeletal structure of dogs of today.
Leaving aside this brief history lesson about this breed that documents the great and prolonged usefulness we can see that even today the Spanish Waterdog is used for work. And it this single attribute that has caused all that have come to care for, protect, and enjoy to promote this breed to the level of recognition and prosperity of that it now knows today.
In the sea ports of Algeciras, Cadiz, Malaga, and the inlet port of Sevilla the “waterdogs” were used to help moor ships and boats by launching themselves in the water. They would dive after a floating buoy at the end of a rope and carry it to the awaiting dock hands. There are numerous testimonials of this adventurous and spectacular event throughout the years. However, now a days, with the modernization of docks and ship transportation this mighty function on the Spanish Waterdog is no longer needed.
There are accounts that the waterdogs of the inlet port of Sevilla moved on to the sea ports of Santander and its surroundings. Throughout the Cantabrico Sea, from Galicia to the Vasq Country, there is a long and distinguished seafaring tradition that identifies waterdogs with fishing ships. Not too long ago, each fishing cutter had its “seadog – first class” that did all sorts of fishing tasks such as carry lines from one place to another or dive in the water to retrieve stunned fish that escaped from nets. There are many seafaring short stories that speak of the “waterdogs” both in and out of the water.
There great passion to retrieve objects makes them natural retrievers of almost anything almost anywhere. They handle the gathering and control of flocks in Andalucia and Extremadura today just as they did hundreds of years ago. The act of sophisticated search and rescue of people after natural disasters such as earthquakes, mud slides, and cave ins is another demonstration of their great capacity to recover all that is put forth to them. Today several European police forces, namely the Spanish Civil Guard use waterdogs in the detection of drugs and explosives. It is easy to see them working in airports, customs stations, public buildings helping to serve and protect society.
There was also a traveling circus that promoted waterdogs that perform tricks worthy of humans. We have come to know dogs that only lacked the ability to speak. Every watchful, every attentive the Spanish Waterdog waits patiently to carry out your command.
There are some that try to use the Spanish Waterdog as a hunting dog which is a marvelous tracker and retriever, but there is the major inconvenience of its natural wool. The wool is very dense and gets caught very easily in all types of underbrush. We have even some dogs trapped by their own wool to the point that they couldn’t´t even move. To go out into the country with a waterdog one must have in mind the type of terrain that they are going to traverse and what time of year it is. Short wool is ideal for the countryside but you must keep in mind that a short hair dog will never swim or dive as well as long hair dog.
“I like to play with my dogs and every day I learn something with them.” says Antonio Garcia. “For example: going surfing, identifying various objects by their name, bringing specific objects to someone, climbing trees, going up almost vertical ladders and stairs, cutting ropes, even turning a car engine and bringing the keys to the owner, and thousands of other examples they do because they like it and they like to make their owners happy.”
In conclusion, simply remember that the reason today we enjoy this multitalented breed is due to its usefulness and that is what its future is based upon. To keep the breed strong and unique we must play and work with dogs.