Top 5 Spanish Dog Breeds

The most distinctive Spanish dog breeds include the Ibizan Hound, Spanish Water Dog, Pyrenean Mastiff, Catalan Sheepdog, and Spanish Hound.

Apr 11, 2024By Tanya Taylor
top spanish dog breeds

Spain is a European country with a strong culture reaching around the globe. It’s a largely rural place, meaning that due to their loyal, hard-working attitudes, the most popular dog breeds are working ones. If you want to bring Spanish culture to your home, what better way to do it than by introducing a four-legged friend? Discover more about canines from Spain in my list of the top 5 Spanish dog breeds below.

1. Catalan Sheepdog

catalan sheepdog
Photo Credit: annrhipublications on Flickr

Height: 17.5 - 21.5 inches

Weight: 35 - 44 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 12 - 14 years

The first entry on our list of the top Spanish dog breeds is the Catalan Sheepdog. The Catalan Sheepdog is an adorable medium-sized dog from Catalonia, a region in North East Spain. They have been a part of the farming community for centuries and are working canines - specializing in guarding and herding. Catalan Sheepdogs have a long, straight, or slightly wavy coat, which comes in fawn, sable, gray and black. They have a strong, athletic, muscular body, a cute hairy face, and soft, kind eyes.

The Catalan Sheepdog is fun, intelligent, agile, and full of energy. They suit a rural environment and need a secure area to run around and lots of playtime. Catalan Sheepdogs are fun-loving hounds but aren’t great with other dogs, pets, and children, and early socializing and training are a must. These dogs are independent - and it takes them time to bond with strangers. With the correct training and handling, however, they are super obedient and eager to please.

2. Ibizan Hound

ibizan hound
Photo Credit: Robert Schwarz on Unsplash

Height: 23 - 26 inches

Weight: 45 - 50 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 11 - 14 years

The Ibizan Hound is known as the Podenco Ibicenco in its native home of Ibiza, one of the Balearic Islands off the eastern coast of Spain. The word Podenco means hound in Spanish, and there are many regional variations, such as the Podenco Canaria and Podenco Andaluz. Podencos are rabbit hunting dogs, but the Ibicenco is unique because it may be related to the extinct Egyptian Tesem - the companion dog of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.

Ibizan Hounds are usually white with red markings, which come in shades ranging from orange to brown. They have a short, sleek coat and slender, athletic body and are incredibly graceful but tend to be underweight. They have huge, pointy ears, long noses, and small, intelligent eyes.

Podencos are hunting dogs with a wild, free spirit, are incredible escape artists, and need lots of exercise. They can jump over 6 ft high from a standstill and have a strong prey drive, but they also enjoy lounging around. Ibizan Hounds are loyal, affectionate and fantastic with other dogs and children but can be aloof with strangers.

3. Pyrenean Mastiff

Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Height: 28 - 31 inches

Weight: 120 - 190 pounds

Exercise Level: Average

Lifespan: 10 - 12 years

Next on our list is the Pyrenean Mastiff. This giant dog comes from the Pyrenees Mountains in Northern Spain, where it protects livestock from large predators, including bears and wolves. The Pyrenean Mastiff originated in the Middle Ages but is probably related to the Molossor, an ancient Greek breed.

These humongous dogs have a sturdy frame and a medium-length, dense double coat to keep warm in the mountains. They are usually white with brindle, black, beige, gray, brown, silver or biscuit markings. They have a huge head and are one of the dog breeds with the largest jowls, making them drooly.

Pyrenean Mastiffs are calm, intelligent, independent and excellent guard dogs. They are fantastic with kids and other pets because of their protective instincts but are often wary of strangers. Because of their size, the Pyrenean Mastiff is one of the dog breeds with the shortest lifespans. They are generally friendly and affectionate but are more suited to experienced owners due to their size and power.

4. Spanish Hound

spanish hound
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Height: 19 - 22 inches

Weight: 51 - 71 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 12 - 13 years

The noble Spanish Hound originated in the Middle Ages and was a favored hunting dog with royalty for catching small and large game. We know this because King Alphonse XI documented them in the 14th century. They come from the Iberian Peninsula and faced extinction after the Spanish Civil War and World Wars.

These medium-sized dogs look similar to Basset Hounds. They are short, stout and powerful, with a substantial chest, long ears, and a sad expression, sometimes with wrinkles on the forehead. The Spanish Hound has a short, dense, smooth coat and is white with red, brown, and orange patches with varying shades and markings.

The Spanish Hound is calm, affectionate, intelligent, and responds well to training. They are brave and energetic with lots of stamina, so they need lots of exercise. These dogs are generally obedient, but being true to their breed, they will bolt if they catch a scent. Spanish hounds are excellent family pets and are good with other dogs.

5. Spanish Water Dog

spanish water dog (2)
Photo Credit: Martainn on Flickr

Height: 15.5 - 19.5 inches

Weight: 20 - 50 pounds

Exercise Level: Active

Lifespan: 12 - 14 years

The Spanish Water Dog is probably the most distinctive entry on our list of the top Spanish dog breeds. It’s famous for its distinctive, rustic coat and playful personality. Spanish Water dogs come from the Iberian Peninsula, where they have worked as hunters and retrievers of waterfowl for over 800 years. They are one of the most distinctive dog breeds that love the water.

Spanish Water dogs have a unique curly, wooly coat - which covers their face and helps keep them warm and afloat in the water. It grows into dreadlocks or cords if left alone, but cords need regular, specialist maintenance, so most owners clip their dogs regularly. Spanish Water dogs are usually black, white, beige, or brown, with a brown or black nose.

These dogs are fast, agile, full of energy, and excellent jogging companions. They’re super intelligent, respond well to positive training, and love playing with dog puzzle toys. They are eager to please and generally obedient but can be wary of strangers, and early socialization is a must. Overall, Spanish Water dogs are fun family companions.

Tanya Taylor
By Tanya Taylor

Tanya is a trusted animal care professional and has devoted her life to animals. In her 25-year career, she’s worked with all kinds of creatures in many environments, including three years caring for small animals as a veterinary nursing assistant and five years birthing down racehorses.

She is an expert farm and dog sitter - and has spent many hours volunteering at her local pony sanctuary. Tanya is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but now she lives in Ibiza, Spain, with her cheeky red terrier Leo and three Leopard tortoise hatchlings, Ninja, Tiny, and Orwell.