Spanish Water Dog vs Black Norwegian Elkhound - Breed Comparison

Spanish Water Dog vs Black Norwegian ElkhoundSpanish Water Dog is originated from Spain but Black Norwegian Elkhound is originated from Norway. Both Spanish Water Dog and Black Norwegian Elkhound are having almost same height. Both Spanish Water Dog and Black Norwegian Elkhound are having almost same weight. Both Spanish Water Dog and Black Norwegian Elkhound has almost same life span. Both Spanish Water Dog and Black Norwegian Elkhound has almost same litter size. Spanish Water Dog requires Moderate maintenance. But Black Norwegian Elkhound requires Low maintenance

Basic Information

Herding dogs
Herding dogs
Height Male:
44 - 50 cm
17 - 20 inches
44 - 49 cm
17 - 20 inches
Height Female:
40 - 45 cm
15 - 18 inches
43 - 46 cm
16 - 19 inches
Weight Male:
18 - 22 kg
39 - 49 pounds
16 - 20 kg
35 - 45 pounds
Weight Female:
14 - 18 kg
30 - 40 pounds
16 - 19 kg
35 - 42 pounds
Life Span:
12 - 14 Years
12 - 15 Years
Litter Size:
5 - 8
4 - 6
Medium dog
Medium dog
Other Names:
Perro de agua Español SWD Turco Andaluz • Turkish Dog
Norsk Elghund Svart Norsk Elghund Black Black Elkhound Norwegian Moose Dog (black)
Colors Available:
solid black, beige, brown, or white; bicolour where the second colour is white; or particolour
distinctive curly coat which is woolly in texture and may form cords when long
Dense, short double coat
Affectionate, Intelligent, Loving, Loyal
Alert, Curious, Intelligent, Loyal, Stubborn
Moderate maintenance
Low maintenance
Kids Friendly:
New Owners Friendly:


spanish water dogBred in Spain to guard and herd sheep, the Spanish Water Dog was also used in hunting because he could retrieve in water. The breed is closely aligned with other water dogs like the Irish Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog and French Barbel. It is especially true that the Spanish Water Dog and the Portuguese Water Dog share some of the same ancestors. The two breeds are closely related.

In the early days of the breed, they were separated into three different sizes and types. The dogs from Northern Spain were smaller than the others and came from the regions of Cantabria and Asturias. These lighter colored dogs eventually became their own breed – the Cantabria Water Dog. The second group came from western Andalusia marsh lands. He had a long chorded coat. The third group was the strongest and largest and came from the southern Andalusian sierras. This was by far the largest and most influential group, most of whom were herders. Eventually the groups interbred and today’s SWD carries the traits of all three. They were and still are a very versatile breed. In addition to herding they fished or retrieved for hunters.

The breed was revived in the 1970”s by two breeders, Santiago Montesinos and Antonio Garcia Perez travelled through southern Spain to buy or borrow dogs for breeding. By 1980, they had established the Spanish Water Dog Club of Spain and reestablished the breed. They fought to the breed recognized in Spain first. After five years of hard work, the Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the breed permanently in 1999.

The UKC, or United Kennel Club, of the United States, recognized the breed in 2001, accepting them for confirmation by 2004. In the United States the breed was championed by Ken and Jerry Mann to attain that UKC recognition. Still the AKC, or American Kennel Club, held out on their recognition. The Manns showed the SWD in 2000 in the AKC Rare Breed Conformation and the UKC multi-breed show in 2004.

The Manns also used their breed for herding in the United States in entered them into the herding competition. In the they advocated for and got the SWD into the herding group for confirmation with the UKC in 2013. The American Kennel Club approved the requests of the Spanish Water Dog Club, Inc and recognized the breed in 2005 as foundation stock. By 2008 the AKC recognized the SWD to be able to compete in field trials by not conformation. In 2015 the SWD will be admitting to AKC conformation and fully recognized as a member of the herding group. They were also recognized by the American Herding Breed Association in 2007.

black norwegian elkhoundThe Black Norwegian Elkhound was first bred in Norway in the early part of the 19th century as a smaller version of the Grey Norwegian Elkhound. The Black version is a Spitz and is very seldom seen anywhere in world but Norway. He is designed for the same job that the Grey Norwegian Elkhound performed. The difference is that the Black Norwegian is smaller, easier to see in the snow and ice of Norway and smaller than the Grey. It is a hunter, a herder, a guard dog and a watch dog. Because of the temperatures in Norway it was very important to have a hunting dog that was able to deal with the cold, the snow and the heavy fall rains in Norway and Scandinavia. The Black Norwegian Elkhound is a powerful and prideful dog. Much more so than the grey, he is independent and strongminded. It is highly intelligent and is one of the most ancient of breeds. He is more durable and more quarrelsome than his cousin the Grey Norwegian Elkhound or the more familiar Swedish Elkhound.

Ancestors of the Black date back to the first days human kind went hunting around 4000-5000BC. There have been skeletons of dogs very much like the Black Norwegian Elkhound found that dated back to that time period. They hunted and guarded for the Vikings and pulled sleds as well. They hunted deer, moose, badger, elk, mountain lions, bears, wolves, lynx, rabbit and reindeer. They are trackers who hold their quarry at bay by barking until the hunter can find them. Today they serve as loved family pets and guard dogs. In a National Emergency the leader of Norway can call up all the privately-owned elkhounds of any kind and assign them to work in a variety of sledding duties. Within the FCI, the Black Norwegian Elkhound is classified as a primitive Nordic hunting dog.


spanish water dog puppyThe Spanish Water Dog is an athletic, medium size, robust breed that is not as tall as it is long. In countries like the US, the tails are docked but it is not a conformation fault if they are not. The carry themselves with pride and elegance, have a strong head and expressive eyes which are brown. They have flat skulls and wide set eyes. Their paw pads, eye-rims and nose should be darker than their coat or at least the same color. Their eyes are chestnut, hazel or dark brown and their ears are medium height and triangular. His coat is curly and his topline is straight. With a broad chest and arched rib, he is a very athletic looking dog. The breed has much respiratory capacity with broad shoulders and straight sturdy legs. The breed has rounded feet , tight toes, and resistant pads.

black norwegian elkhound puppyThe Black Norwegian Elkhound is a short compact Spitz with dark eyes and a curly tail. It is the coat that sets this dog apart. It is an all-weather coat suitable for the cold, the snow and the rain of Norway. Ears are pointed and erect while the head is wedged and broad. His head is almost like that of a wolf. Its body is strong and compact. Its coat is coarse, short and double. He has a broad black nose with a straight bridge and with black lips and dark brown oval eyes. His legs and withers are strong boned and powerful with well padded feet to protect it from the freezing temperatures of Scandinavia.

Health Problems

spanish water dog dogThe Spanish Water Dog has much of the same health problems as the other water dogs and dogs their size and heritage. Here are some of the health issues they are prone to.

  • PRA- Progressive retinal atrophy – can cause blindness.
  • Hip dysplasia- can cause lameness or arthritis.
  • Cherry eye – can be successfully treated.
  • Cataracts – usually in old age and not removed.
  • Hypothyroidism – affects the immune system of middle aged dogs.
  • Allergies – skin and food.

• Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency – inability to digest food – can be treated.

  • Addison’s Disease – Adrenal glands not functioning. Can be treated.

• CHG – Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goiter – inherited and pups don’t grow correctly.

• Neuroaxonal Dystrophy – cognitive and muscular dysfunction. Vitamin E and insulin deficiency

black norwegian elkhound dogThe Black Norwegian Elkhound is a strong and hardy dog, though he is susceptible to some of the problems many breeds face. These include issues with luxating patella, optical entropion, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and Fanconi syndrome. The most serious of these is the Fanconi Syndrome which is an abnormal functioning in the tubules of the kidneys. This can be a life-threatening situation.

Caring The Pet

spanish water dog puppies1.Feeding the puppy – Because of the breed propensity to some genetic dietary issues it is important to feed high quality food made from mostly meat. Avoid grains as much as possible. Don’t feed adult foods to the puppies. Feed puppy breed specific or medium size dogs.

2.Feeding the adult - Feed the adult as little grain and as much protein as possible. Feed adult breed specific or medium size dog’s food.

3.Points for Good Health - speed, stamina and agility

4. Games and Exercises – This is a working breed. Remember they are both herders and hunters and need exercise. They love strenuous hiking, running, jogging, long walks, swimming and playing fetch. Don’t over work the puppy/young dog until they have matured and their growth plates close.

black norwegian elkhound puppiesThis is an energetic active dog, or she should be. Feed her high nutritious food twice a day. Do not overfeed.

The most potentially troublesome health issue is Fanconi Syndrome. This kidney disorder can impact the of the body’s absorption of electrolytes, water and nutrients. These nutrients include Sodium, Potassium, Glucose, Phosphate, Amino Acids and Phosphate

The Black Norwegian Elkhound loves to play, and they love to work. Exercise is vital, but it must be one of those two things – play or work. Don’t leave him alone to figure it out for himself or you wont like what this intelligent dog decides to do. She needs a large yard, a long walk daily but jogging with you is even better. Make him heel when on leash or he will think he oversees you. These are roaming dogs who will follow a scent anywhere and ignore your commands for her to come to you. They are better off on a leash unless you are in a dog park or a fenced yard.

The Black Norwegian Elkhound is great at all dog athletics, games and sports such as agility, rally obedience, flyball, tracking, herding.


1.Children friendliness - yes

2.Special talents - water/swimming search and rescue

spanish water dog dogs3.Adaptability - very adaptable with the right exercise. Neither heat nor cold bother them.

4.Learning ability – Smart but need a reliable recall.

black norwegian elkhound dogsThis dog was made for families. He loves children and is not a one person dogs. He gets attached to everyone in the family. However, he is smart and stubborn. He loves to join in with whatever the family is doing but he does it to please himself not his owner. He loves, loves, loves to play and has the stamina to do so all day long. He is agile, bold, independent, strong, curious and loyal. His loyalty can be territorial, and he can become protective of his home and his family. This makes him an excellent watchdog until your friends come to visit and he won’t let them in the house. You need a high fence to keep him safe in your own yard and away from strangers and even guests till he gets to know them.He tends to be dominant and aggressive with other dogs. They also have strong hunting instincts.

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