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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

Origin: Portugal

AKC Group: Working

Height: Males: 20 - 23 inches; Females: 17 - 21 inches (Male)

Weight: 35 - 60 pounds (Male)

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Portuguese Water Dogs are energetic, lively canines that adjust well to almost any lifestyle. They need physical exercise and they love to swim. They're usually friendly with strangers and good with other animals. They're notorious chewers, though - hide your shoes!

Portuguese Water Dogs are working dogs. In general, working dogs pull sleds and carts, guard homes and serve in the military. Because these dogs are intelligent and capable of learning almost anything, they make excellent companions.

Their very size can make them difficult to control, so they must be trained by a competent professional. Most working dogs are pack dogs, so they're often aggressive with strange dogs and other pets.

Male height: 
Males: 20 - 23 inches; Females: 17 - 21 inches
Male weight: 
35 - 60 pounds
Can be either medium-length and wavy, or short and curly. Needs to be brushed twice a week, and professionally clipped on occasion. Tail and ears hang down. Feet are webbed.
Black, brown, white, black and white, or brown and white. Eyes are black or brown; nose is black, but brown on brown dogs.
Special considerations: 
In addition to hip dysplasia, Portuguese Water Dogs are susceptible to Storage Disease - a fatal neurological disease that evidences itself at six months of age by head bobbing and wobbliness. Reputable breeders test each puppy for Storage Disease before they sell it.

Believed to harken back to dogs who assisted fishermen in the Central Asian steppes as long ago as 700 BCE, the Portuguese Water Dog ("PWD") has been an indispensable partner to the fishermen of coastal Portugal for centuries. The breed's job through the ages was to herd fish into the fishermen's nets. He also retrieved objects from the water and carried messages and equipment between boats and from boats to the shore. He was as necessary a part of the crew as any of the people on board, and he accompanied boats on their journeys from the warm coastal waters off Portugal all the way to the cod fishing grounds near Iceland. He was sturdy and strong enough to navigate even rough waters, and his nonshedding, dense and waterproof coat, along with his webbed feet, kept him warm and steadied him.

In 1958, the breed came to the United States - and it was a very rare breed at the time, even in its home country. In 1972, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America (PWDCA) was formed, and this small, dedicated club built the breed until by the early 1980s, it was flourishing in more than 40 states.

Bred to be of service, the Portuguese Water Dog is an extremely intelligent and robust animal. He will fearlessly dive into icy water to retrieve a net or round up fish, and he won't stop working until the job is completed. This independent thinker is capable of handling himself in tough situations and is tuned in to what's required of him. The PWD is levelheaded yet lively, sensible yet fun-loving. He makes a great watchdog, too, as he takes an interest in the well-being of the family to whom he is devoted.
At home: 
The Portuguese Water Dog can do well in an apartment, provided he's given enough daily exercise. He values having a job to do and is happiest when included in family chores and activities. He loves to play, and if you live near a body of water, you'll soon discover his favorite pastime: swimming. Take him out on a boat and play retrieving games with him, and he will be utterly happy.
Bred to work all day in rough waters, the PWD is an athletic dog with a lot of stamina. He needs regular and preferably vigorous exercise.
The athletic Portuguese Water Dog is a hearty eater whose weight should be monitored. A high-quality, age-appropriate diet is best. Feeding twice a day as an adult is recommended.
The happy-to-help, no-nonsense Portuguese Water Dog eagerly takes to training. Without it, he will resort to making decisions himself, which is not a good situation for dog or family. He needs guidance and direction, and training should begin as early as possible. Understanding this and working with him in a reinforcing and positive way will help you develop an incredible relationship with your PWD, and he will learn almost anything you want to teach him.
The PWD is great with children and other dogs and pets.
The average life span of the Portuguese Water Dog is 11 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include Addison's disease; allergies; cancer; epilepsy; gastrointestinal problems; glycogen storage disease (GM-1); heart problems; hip dysplasia; and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
Fun fact: 

In Portuguese, the breed's name is Catildeo de Egua (catildeo for dog, egua for water).

Grooming blurb: 
Both coat types need a lot of attention to keep them looking their best. Although they are practically nonshedding, they still need to be maintained. The longer, wavy coat must be brushed and combed as well as trimmed to keep it free from tangles; the curly coat requires regular brushing and combing and also must be clipped every six to eight weeks. The clipping patterns are the working retriever clip (moderately short all over) and the lion clip (clipped short on the tummy, legs, tail, and face and left longer on the chest, throat and end of tail).
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.