Portuguese Water Dogs are originally from the Portuguese region of the Algarve, from where the breed expanded to all around Portugal’s coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen’s nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. The ancestors of the Portuguese Water Dog may have come from the rugged lands near the border between China and Russia. Horses, cattle, sheep, and camels were raised in these harsh lands, and dogs were needed to herd and protect them. In more recent times, the Portuguese Water Dog worked in the water. All along Portugal’s coast, these dogs would herd fish into nets and retrieve fishing gear accidentally dropped into the water.
Portuguese Water Dogs stand between 17 and 23 inches tall and weigh 35 to 60 pounds. The head is large and well-proportioned, the eyes are dark, and the ears are heart-shaped, dropped, and held close to the head. The chest is deep, the back well-muscled, and the topline level. The feet are webbed. The tail is not docked; it is tapered, and when the dog is alert, is held in a ring up and over the back. The waterproof coat is thick and profuse and can be either curly or wavy. There is no undercoat. The coat may be various shades of brown, black, white, brown and white, or black and white. The coat should be brushed and combed thoroughly two or three times weekly. The coat also requires regular, breed-specific grooming and trimming. It is important that potential Portuguese Water Dog owners discuss the breed’s grooming needs with a breeder prior to acquiring a Portuguese Water Dog puppy.
The Portuguese Water Dog is an active dog breed that needs daily exercise. Portuguese Water Dogs love to swim and are amazingly skilled divers. They enjoy playing flying disc and do well in a variety of performance events, including agility. What is more important to this dog breed is that the owner is involved in the activities, too. Training should be a part of every Portuguese Water Dog’s puppyhood. Not only do the dogs need to learn household rules and social manners, training will also channel this breed’s bright, active mind.
Portuguese Water Dogs excel in water rescue work, tracking, flying disc, obedience, and flyball. This breed needs an actively involved owner who enjoys having an energetic canine companion. The Portuguese Water Dog owner should enjoy grooming the dog, training her, and doing things with her, either competitively or just for fun. The Portuguese Water Dog breed is a devoted family dog and can be very protective of her territory. Health concerns include Addison’s disease, cancer, eye problems, allergies, kidney disease, and hip dysplasia.