Breed Organization Portuguese Water Dog Club of America Website:
http://www.pwdca.org Native Country Portugal Other Names Portuguese Water Dog, Cao de agua Portugues, Portie, PWD, Water Dog Life Expectancy Approximately 10-14 Years Litter Size Average 5-7 Puppies Breed Group AKC Working
Breed Appearance The closest relatives of the PWD are widely
thought to be the Kerry Blue Terrier, Barbet and Standard Poodle.
Like Poodles and several other water dog breeds, PWDs are highly
intelligent, can have curly coats, have webbed toes for swimming,
and do not shed. However, Portuguese Water Dogs are more robustly
built, with stout legs, and can have a wavy coat instead of tightly
curled. If comparing the structure to that of a Poodle, there are
significant differences between the two breeds. The Portuguese Water
Dog built of strong substantial bone; well developed, neither
refined nor coarse, and a solidly built, muscular body. The
Portuguese Water Dog is off-square, slightly longer than tall when
measured from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks, and from
withers to ground. Portuguese Water Dog eyes are black or various
tones of brown, and their coats can be black, brown, black and white
or brown and white.
PWDs have a single-layered coat that
does not shed, and therefore their presence is tolerated extremely
well among many people who suffer from dog allergies.
Most PWDs, especially those shown in conformation shows, are
entirely black, black and white, brown, or silver-tipped; it is
common to see white chest spots and white paws or legs on black or
brown coated dogs. "Parti" or "Irish-marked" coats, with irregular
white and black spots, are rare but visually striking. "Parti" dogs
are becoming more common in the United States. However, in Portugal
the breed standard does not allow more than 30% white markings.
Overall, white is the least common Portuguese Water Dog color, while
black with white markings on the chin ("milk chin") and chest is the
most common color combination.
Breed Description Head: Strong and broad. Domed skull.
Prominent brow bones. Pronounced stop. Muzzle narrower at the nose
than at the base. Strong jaws. Nose wide, matching coat color. Thick
lips. Ears: Set on high, thin, hanging flat against the head with the
back edge standing out slightly. Eyes: Medium-sized, round, slightly slanted. Eyelids edged with
black. Body: Strong. Short, rounded neck without dewlap. Broad
withers. Chest broad, well let-down. Well-sprung ribs. Small
abdomen. Straight back. Slightly sloping croup. Tail: Thick at the base, tapering toward the tip. In action,
curled in a circle. The tail is a valuable tool for swimming and
diving. Hair: Tough. No undercoat. Two varieties: long and wavy, or in
short tufts. Wavy hair on the head (crisp hair in the second
variety) forming a sort of topknot. Coat: Solid or a combination of colors. Solid white, black, or
brown. A combination of black or brown with white. Size: Dog: 54 cm. (21.3 in).Bitch: 46 cm. (18 in). Weight: Dog: 19 to 25 kg. (42-55 lb).Bitch: 16 to 22 kg.
History The Portuguese Water Dog, as the name suggests,
is native to Portugal. In its native land it is called the Cao de
agua, which means "dog of water." It was developed from working dogs
in the Iberian Peninsula. Excellent swimmers, the dogs worked
alongside Portuguese fisherman for hundreds of years doing numerous
jobs. They were so valuable they were considered part of the crew.
The lion trim had a specific purpose. The fishermen would shave the
rear and muzzle to aid in swimming and working in the water. Long
hair was left to help keep vital organs warmer and protect the dog
from injury on the main body, neck and head. The dogs worked herding
and catching fish, retrieving broken nets or anything that fell into
the water, carrying messages from one ship to the other or from ship
to shore and even guarded the boats in foreign ports. The dogs were
so popular even non-commercial fishermen could rent one for their
fishing trips. As time went on technology replaced the dogs’ jobs
and by the 1930s the breeds’ numbers dropped considerably. It was
not until a wealthy Portuguese man named Vasco Bensaude started a
breeding program in an attempt to save the breed did their numbers
rise once again. The first pair of Portuguese Water Dogs was
imported to the USA in 1958. In 1972 the Portuguese Water Dog Club
of America was formed. In 1983 the breed was first recognized by the
AKC. Some of the Portuguese Water Dog's talents are obedience, water
trials, agility, therapy dog and assistance dog.
Behavior Portuguese Water dogs make excellent
companions. They are loving, independent, and intelligent and are
easily trained in obedience and agility skills. Once introduced,
they are generally friendly to strangers, and enjoy being petted,
which, due to their soft, fluffy coats, is a favor that human beings
willingly grant them.
Because they are working dogs, PWDs are generally content in being
at their master's side, awaiting directions, and, if they are
trained, they are willing and able to follow complex commands. They
learn very quickly, seem to enjoy the training, and have a long
memory for the names of objects. These traits and their non-shedding
coats mean they excel at the various Service Dog roles such as
hearing dogs (assistance dogs for the deaf), mobility dogs, and
seizure response dogs. They also make unusually good therapy dogs.
A PWD usually stays in proximity to its owners, indoors as well as
outdoors. This is typical of the breed. Though very gregarious
animals, these dogs will typically bond with one primary or alpha
family member. Some speculate that this intense bonding arose in the
breed because the dogs were selected to work in proximity to their
masters on small fishing boats, unlike other working dogs such as
herding dogs and water dogs that range out to perform tasks. In any
case, the modern PWD, whether employed on a boat or kept as a pet or
a working dog, loves water, attention, and prefers to be engaged in
activity within sight of a human partner. This is not a breed to be
left alone for long periods of time, indoors or out.
water dogs, the PWD's retrieving instinct is strong, which also
gives some dogs tugging and chewing tendencies. A PWD will commonly
jump as a greeting. Owners may choose to limit this behavior. Some
PWDs may walk, hop, or "dance" on their hind legs when greeting or
otherwise enthusiastic. Some PWDs will stand upright at kitchen
counters and tables, especially if they smell food above them. This
habit is known as "counter surfing" and is characteristic of the
breed. Although it can be a nuisance, many PWD owners evidently
enjoy seeing their dogs walking, hopping, standing up, or
"countering" and do not seriously discourage these activities.
While they are very good companions to people who understand what
they need, Portuguese Water Dogs are not for everyone. Because of
their intelligence and working drive, they require regular intensive
exercise as well as mental challenges. They are gentle and patient —
but not "couch potatoes", and boredom may cause them to become
Health Some lines are prone to hip dysplasia and PRA.
Prone to GM-1 Storage Disease, a fatal nerve disease. Those dogs
used for breeding should be tested. It appears when the puppy is
about 6 months old.
Advice He needs space and lots of exercise, as well as
frequent combing and brushing. For competition, the hair on the
hindquarters must be clipped from the last rib to two-thirds of the
way down the tail.
Function Herding Dog, Water Dog, Therapy Dog, Pet.