Spanish Water Dog vs Lapponian Herder - Breed Comparison

Spanish Water Dog vs Lapponian Herder - Breed ComparisonSpanish Water Dog is originated from Spain but Lapponian Herder is originated from Finland. Both Spanish Water Dog and Lapponian Herder are having almost same height. Spanish Water Dog may weigh 13 kg / 28 pounds lesser than Lapponian Herder. Both Spanish Water Dog and Lapponian Herder has same life span. Both Spanish Water Dog and Lapponian Herder has same litter size. Both Spanish Water Dog and Lapponian Herder requires Moderate maintenance.


spanish water dog - historyBred 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.

lapponian herder - historyThe Lapponian Herder hails from Finland. He is a dog which was developed for the Sami people who needed a strong dog to herd and guard their reindeer. The Sami people knew that they could reply on these Spitz-type dogs to efficiently manage their reindeer herds.

As with many other dog breeds, their numbers dwindled during and after the Second World War, and breeders then stepped forward to restore the herding dog populations. The dog was developed from Spitz-type herding breeds which were crossed with black and white Karelian Bear Dogs as well as other dog varieties.

Both the Lapponian Herder and the Finnish Lapphund were recognized as the same breed, with the Lapponian being separated into its own breed in 1966.

The dog is one of Finland’s five national dog breeds and in 2017, the Lapponian Herder was accepted to the Foundation Stock Service program.

Basic Information

Herding dogs
Herding dogs
Height Male:
44 - 50 cm
17 - 20 inches
43 - 51 cm
16 - 21 inches
Height Female:
40 - 45 cm
15 - 18 inches
43 - 51 cm
16 - 21 inches
Weight Male:
18 - 22 kg
39 - 49 pounds
30 - 35 kg
66 - 78 pounds
Weight Female:
14 - 18 kg
30 - 40 pounds
30 - 35 kg
66 - 78 pounds
Life Span:
12 - 14 Years
10 - 14 Years
Litter Size:
5 - 8
5 - 8
Medium dog
Medium dog
Other Names:
Perro de agua Español SWD Turco Andaluz • Turkish Dog
Lapinporokoira, Lapp Reindeer dog, Reindeer Herder
Colors Available:
solid black, beige, brown, or white; bicolour where the second colour is white; or particolour
dark brown, Dark grey, cream, black
distinctive curly coat which is woolly in texture and may form cords when long
Medium length, straight, harsh
Moderate, Seasonal
Affectionate, Intelligent, Loving, Loyal
Affectionate, Alert, Cheerful, Courageous, Curious, Docile, Energetic, Friendly, Independent, Intelligent, Lively, Loving, Loyal, Outgoing, Playful, Protective, Responsive, Social, Territorial
Moderate maintenance
Moderate maintenance
Kids Friendly:
New Owners Friendly:


spanish water dog puppy - descriptionThe 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.

lapponian herder puppy - descriptionThis is a medium sized dog and both male and female dogs stand between 43 and 51cm in height and weigh in the region of 30 to 35kg.

The average litter size for these dogs is 5 to 8 puppies.

They have a medium length double coat which is straight and fairly harsh to the touch. They are moderate shedders.

Looking much like a combination German Shepherd and Wolf, the Lapponian Herder’s coat can be dark grey, cream, dark brown and black. He has erect ears, brown eyes and a long bushy tail which can be held low but which he raises somewhat over the back when he is alert. The head is wedge-shaped with tapering muzzle and black nose.


Energetic and lively while also being calm, the Lapponian Herder makes an excellent family pet.

As a very active breed, he is going to need an active, outdoor-type of owner. He is an intelligent, independent dog who wants to be kept busy. Because of his smartness he is easy to train ad socialize, being a dog that wants to please.

Training and socialization will do wonders for him, particularly because he is a vocal dog, loving to bark and air his views. With the training you can call out to him ‘be quiet’ and he will, as he becomes an obedient dog who is a pleasure to have around in all kinds of situations.


1.Children friendliness - yes

2.Special talents - water/swimming search and rescue

spanish water dog dog - characteristics3.Adaptability - very adaptable with the right exercise. Neither heat nor cold bother them.

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

lapponian herder dog - characteristicsThe Lapponian Herder is a great family pet who is social and who loves being in the company of his human family, being able to get on well with children in the home too, as well as pets.

He plays a protective role too, not being quiet when it comes to barking and warning his family of intruders.

They’re very energetic dogs but can be docile indoors. He is smart too, being able to learn quickly. Bring one of these Lapponian Herders into your home, and you’re guaranteed a splendid family pet.

Health Problems

spanish water dog puppies - health problemsThe 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

lapponian herder puppies - health problemsThe Lapponian Herder, with good care, should be able to live for 10 to 14 years.

He is generally believed to be a healthy dog breed, but as with most other dogs, there are a few health issues which can crop up. These can be eye- and infections as well as skin allergies. These can be highly irritating for your dog and painful too, and veterinary intervention may be required.

Other serious dog problems can be bloat and joint dysplasia.

Caring The Pet

spanish water dog dogs - caring1.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.


lapponian herder dogs - caringThe Lapponian Herder has a dense coat and he is considered to be an average shedder with some seasonal shedding.

To keep the coat sleek and shiny, get into the habit of brushing him twice a week. With the assistance of the right grooming tools you will be able to clip his nails if he doesn’t wear them down naturally. Just be careful though, because cutting to far down can mean cutting him where the nerves are and this can cause your pet great pain.

When you brush him, check his ears at the same time and use a damp cloth to wipe away the excess wax and dirt.

His teeth should also be cleaned with canine toothpaste and toothbrush. If you are apprehensive about keeping up with these grooming procedures, there are professional dog grooming experts who will attend to your dog’s grooming needs.


The Lapponian Herder is a medium sized dog full of energy.

If you feed him commercially manufactured kibble, you’ll read on the packaging about the type of food it is and what portion sizes to give him. Always go for the top quality brands that are made with good meaty ingredients and not filled with the likes of colorants and preservatives.

It is healthier to give him 2 smaller meals a day as opposed to one large meal. Try and give him some home-cooked food to bring in some variety. Excellent food for him would be some cooked chicken, brown rice, pasta and some cooked or raw vegetables added into his kibble. Every now and then it can be good for him to have a bit of raw meat added into his food.

Your Lapponian Herder must have constant access to cool, fresh water. Remember to wash the bowl out regularly, as the dog’s saliva enters the water when drinking.

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