Check out this breeder’s website. (Not the same breeder as the puppies above).
The history is pretty good, although it is more likely that the more plausible theory is that these dogs originated from Central Asian (Turkish, Turkic, or Magyar) ancestors.
These dogs are both water dogs and herders, which is why I think they are the missing link between the water dogs and puli. The puli-type is most likely the ancestor of all of these dogs.
It is possible that these dogs wound up in the hands of the North Africans. These dogs were probably introduced by through trade. Remember, most of North Africa was Christian and connected to European civilization. It makes sense that some of these dogs would have wound up in Iberia, as they spread out of Asia into the Mediterranean.
I do doubt these dogs have an origin in North Africa after that part of the world became part of the Islamic world. No active herding breed exists in Muslim countries, although one can find livestock guardians in those cultures. I doubt that these dogs were introduced to Iberia by the Moors. Herding dogs are simply not part of Islamic civilization.
I also doubt that this breed is the “most ancient” of water dogs. In reality, that dog is long extinct. In Europe, it has radiated out into so many different breeds, including the water spaniels and retrievers of Britain, the St. John’s water dog of Newfoundland, the truffle-hunting Lagottos Romagnolos of Italy, and the ubiquitous poodle of Germany, France, and Russia.
The fact that Spanish water dogs are herders should tell you a lot about the origins of these dogs and their relations. The old name “Perro Turco” for this breed suggests two origins. Either these dogs came from Central Asia through Turkey, or they are the descendants of the Magyar’s puli-type dogs. The latter sounds possible because many Western Europeans referred to the Magyar people (who we call Hungarians) as Turks. (The name of the man who discovered grapes in Vinland was named Tyrkir. He is sometimes listed as a German slave, but he is also often suggested to be Hungarian. After all, the Norse were probably also calling Magyars Turks.)
See also The History of Water Dogs post.