Portuguese Water Dog Breed Profile

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Portuguese Water Dog Breed Profile

KC Group Working

Size Large

Weight 16-25kg

Height 43-57cm

Average lifespan 10-15 years

Good with children? Yes

Good guard dogs? Possibly

Moulting level Low

Grooming Moderate

Exercise requirement Moderate

Jogging partner Yes

Temperament Happy, lively and focused.

Editors Pick Yes

Portuguese Water Dog Breed Profile

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The Portuguese Water Dog has been in existence for centuries, but it's only in recent years that the breed has become widely known.

Portuguese Water Dog popularity

In the 1960s, the PWD was one of the rarest breeds of dogs in the world and came close to extinction. Despite this, the PWD has become an increasingly popular pet over recent years, although the registration figures still remain relatively low; there were 83 registrations in 2006, which had increased to 198 in 2015.

Portuguese Water Dog character

Portuguese Water Dogs are exceptionally intelligent, courageous and spirited and have endless stamina. They are excellent working dogs and devoted companions. However they are not the breed for everyone. They require a lot of physical exercise and would not be suitable as a town dwelling dog. They also need a lot of mental stimulation and direction as they can become destructive if bored. As a water-loving breed it may be an idea to keep him on-lead near lakes and rivers, as they hold an almost magnetic attraction for him (and often the smellier, the better!).

They are a people orientated breed and should not be left alone for long periods of time. They thrive on being part of a family and get along well with children and other pets. Though not aggressive, they are alert and protective making them a good guard dog.

Portuguese Water Dog history

Portuguese Water Dogs were traditionally bred to assist the fishermen of Portugal and were vital members of the crews on-board the fishing boats. They would retrieve any tackle that fell or was washed overboard, and any fish that jumped the nets or line. They also swam from boat to boat, or to the shore, and acted as couriers if needed. This meant they had to be strong swimmers and capable of diving underwater if necessary. Their webbed feet also meant they could swim and leap out of the water on to the boats virtually unaided. The PWD has very well-developed senses, including a great sense of smell, acute hearing, and keen eyesight.

These attributes, as well as the breed's intense loyalty, sensitivity to atmosphere, and loud, deep bark, made them excellent guards on the fishermen's boats. Water dogs needed to be as buoyant as possible, so avoiding having extra coat to weigh them down, but still needed protection on their joints and extremities, and to keep their vital organs warm. Another non-shedding dog, there are two types of coat — one being fairly long and loosely waved, and the other shorter, fairly harsh, and with compact curls.

Portuguese Water Dog size

The breed standards for dogs are, height: 50-57cm and weight 19-25 kg. Bitches: height 43-52 cm and weight 16-22 kg.

Portuguese Water Dog health

Generally a healthy breed, although there are a few problems you need to be aware of including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy, and storage disease (GM1). All good breeders should test for these problems before breeding from their dogs.

Portuguese Water Dog activity levels

You need to have plenty of time for a Portuguese Water Dog and be willing to put in the training from a young age, especially in the first few months of their life, otherwise you run the risk of having an unruly dog who knows no boundaries. These dogs are highly intelligent, akin to the Border Collie, so they need plenty of physical and mental stimulation. You can't expect them to stay home alone and sleep on the sofa all day. They are good at a wide range of activities, including agility, tracking and water trials. On a day to day basis Portuguese Water Dogs need to ideally have two good walks a day.

Portuguese Water Dog care

The Portuguese Water Dogs can have two different types of coat; fairly long, loosely waved hair or short hair with dense, compact curls. Both types of coat are without undercoats, but need regular grooming to prevent knots. In the show ring, this dog can be easily spotted due to his rather distinctive haircut that involves his muzzle and his entire hindquarters (and two thirds of his tail) being clipped.

Portuguese Water Dogs can only be left for short periods of time; they need to be with someone for most of the day. Ideally kept in a good-sized house with plenty of room; living in a small flat wouldn't suit them.

Did you know?

  • Portuguese Water Dogs helped the sailors of the Spanish Armada by swimming and carrying messages between ships in the 1500's.
  • This is the only breed to be described as a fish-herder! His keen eyesight meant he could spot shoals of fish and he was used to drive them into nets. He would also carry messages between boats, retrieve lost nets, and even worked as a canine foghorn. He could turn his paw to fishing and often caught the odd fish that tried to escape from the nets.

Remember! All breed profiles are general and every dog is an individual.