Portuguese Water Dog

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Is the Portuguese Water Dog right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): PWD; Portie; Cão de Água Português

The basics:
The Portuguese Water Dog is an ancient breed with a long history that underlines the spirit and athleticism of this dog. A monk penned its first written description in 1297 AD, describing it as a hero dog who pulled a drowning sailor from the sea. Another legend claims that these dogs actually sailed on the ships of the famous 16th century Spanish Armada. In any case, they definitely worked for decades if not centuries on Portugal's fishing boats. This talented breed was more than a rescue dog or a retriever. They could actually swim in relatively calm seas and "herd" fish right into the nets.

Like other retrievers, they love to play and to swim, and they love physical activity. Give them something to chew and something to do, or they'll make their own choices-- which may not agree with your own ideas for interior decoration.

Appearance / health:
Portuguese Water Dogs are medium sized, sturdy dogs. The head is large and wide with dark eyes, heart shaped ears, and a strong, broad muzzle. The tail is thick and is carried over the back in somewhat of a circle with the tuft serving as a flag on land and as a rudder in the water. Their feet are more webbed than other water-oriented breeds.

PWDs are not average shedders. Having hair, not fur, they shed only slightly. The coat, if left long, will attract dirt, leaves, twigs, and debris and needs to be clipped to maintain a neat appearance. Regular brushing and bathing is sufficient to keep the coat clean. Standard care is needed for eyes, ears, pads, and nails.

Portuguese Water Dogs are working dogs and have great reserves of stamina. Involvement in obedience, agility, jogging, swimming and many other activities allows them to expend their excess energies. Water sports are best for this water-loving dog. Lack of sufficient exercise may lead to destructive chewing.

Portuguese Water Dogs can develop hip dysplasia (a disease that can cause lameness and arthritis of the hip joints) and progressive retinal atrophy (an inherited disease of the retina that causes progressive loss of vision culminating in blindness). GM-1 storage disease (an inherited fatal nerve disease that appears before the puppy is six months old) and juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy (an inherited disease of the heart muscle)are two other health issues in the breed. Breeders are now able to genetically test the parents for the presence of these diseases in order to avoid producing puppies affected with these problems. Always check to see that the tests for these diseases have been done on the parents of any puppy you may consider purchasing.

Behavior / temperament:
Portuguese Water Dogs are versatile, intelligent and sensible working dogs. They are quick to understand their owner and are eager to please. Owing to their friendly, loyal, and alert nature, they make good watchdogs. They tend to bond easily and quickly with family members and it is this trait that makes them excel as working dogs for the disabled.

Portuguese Water Dogs are usually even tempered and get along well with people and other animals. They can be aloof with strangers on first meeting. When greeting their family, they will often jump around and “dance” on their hind legs as a show of enthusiasm. They are very affectionate, enjoy constant companionship, and do not like to be left alone. It is important to be aware that they are notorious chewers. When left alone or bored, they can become very mischievous and will chew on any available objects.

Portuguese Water Dogs are extremely intelligent, very attentive, and fast learners. Positive reinforcement yields excellent results. Training needs to be firm and consistent as the breed is highly self-willed and often outsmarts the trainer. They are quite sensible, thus harsh disciplinary measures are usually unnecessary.

Although not incessant barkers, they will warn when strangers approach and they will communicate their desires vocally to their owner with their multi-octave voices. The PWD's tendency to vocalize and seek out its human master when specific alarms occur make it an ideal assistance dog for the hearing impaired. Their intelligence and willingness to please allow PWDs to be readily trained to bark loudly when a telephone or doorbell rings, and to find and alert a deaf master.


love people, small children, water sports, funloving dogs, Perfect Energetic Family




consistent training, daily long walk, active dogs, velcro dogs, energy

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