Cantabrian Water Dog: Characteristics, Origin, Lifespan & Temperament

The Cantabrian Water dog is a landrace breed of dog. It was developed in the coast of Cantabria, northern Spain, as an assistant to fisherman. It is also known by some other names such as Perro de agua cantábrico, Perro de lanas and Merlucero.

The breed is also known by it’s common nicknames CWD and PAC. It was classified and recognized by the Breeds Committee of the Spanish Ministry of Environment on 22 March 2011.

The Cantabrian Water dog is an ancestral population in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, whose origins seem to be common to Barbet. The breed is socially, culturally and historically rooted in the towns and villages of the whole coast of Cantabria and eastern Asturias.

The work of this breed has been traditionally related to fishing work: collecting fishes that fell into the water, watching the ships when they were moored in port, taking the rope between ships and to the dock, or acting like a lifeguard.[1]

Currently the breed is not recognized as a breed by any major kennel club.

Cantabrian Water Dog Characteristics

There’s something almost poddle-like about the wavy hair of this woolly breed. The Cantabrian Water dog is a medium-sized breed. They are sensibly proportioned with strong legs and a compact body.

The head of these dogs is well proportioned with a good length of muzzle. They have drop ears, which are neither too short, nor too long. They have an in-between length tail that is carried high and slightly curved.

One of the distinguishing features of the Cantabrian is their coat. This is long and woolly (similar to a poodle). They come in a variety of colors, including cream, fawn, brown and white, and black and white.

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Average height of the mature Cantabrian Water dog is between 17 and 20 inches at the withers for males, and between 16 and 18 inches for the females. Average live body weight of the mature dog is between 16 and 23 kg for males and between 14 and 20 kg for the females.


The Cantabrian Water dog is an intelligent breed which is capable of thinking for themselves and racting accordingly. They have a soft mouth and sharp eyes.

It is generally an easy-going breed that likes to be around people, they do make for a good pet provided they get plenty of exercise.

However, their roots as a rat-catching dog do mean they have a high prey drive, which means they don’t necessarily make a good housemate for cats or other small furries.


Average lifespan of the Cantabrian Water dog is about 14 years.


How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Cantabrian Water dog is a medium sized dog with moderate exercise needs. So, their diet should be formulated for a medium-sized breed with average exercise needs. You can consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.


Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Cantabrian Water dogs. They are a consummate swimmer, ratter, and guard dog. And they need to be active. Although, they don’t require extreme amounts of exercise. It is important that it is kept busy and given an outlet for it’s mental acuity.

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In common with many working dogs, the Cantabrian Water dog responds best to an experienced dog owner. They are best motivated using reward-based training methods, which encourage good behavior.


The Cantabrian Water dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hip dysplasia, allergies, glaucoma, PRA and hypothyroidism. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameCantabrian Water Dog
Other NamesAlso known as Perro de agua cantábrico, Perro de lanas and Merlucero. And common nicknames are CWD and PAC
Breed SizeMedium
HeightBetween 17 and 20 inches at the withers for males, and between 16 and 18 inches for the females
WeightBetween 16 and 23 kg for males and between 14 and 20 kg for the females
Good as petsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorCream, fawn, brown and white, and black and white
LifespanAround 14 years
Good for childrenYes
Country of OriginSpain