About the Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is super-smart and very biddable—meaning he’s easy to train and eager to please. The breed can be groomed in two styles: The retriever clip (the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length, with the tail tip at full length) or the more check-me-out lion clip, where the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle is clipped down to the skin.
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The Portuguese Water Dog once lived all along Portugal’s coast and was used to herd fish into nets, retrieve lost tackle, and act as a messenger between ships and shore. Fishermen counted on the strong and muscular dogs to be hardworking and seaworthy. They would ride in trawlers from the warm Atlantic waters of Portugal to the freezing cold waters off the coast of Iceland. Technology eventually laid him off from his job, but the breed is still used for water rescue.
- Temperament: Affectionate, Adventurous, Athletic
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 50 of 197
- Height: 20-23 inches (male), 17-21 inches (female)
- Weight: 42-60 pounds (male), 35-50 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
- Group: Working Group
This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well-proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness.
Care and Training
The Portuguese Water Dog should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Portuguese Water Dog’s dense, profuse coat is hypoallergenic but requires regular and extensive grooming. The coat ranges in appearance from tight and curly to loose and wavy. It may be kept in the lion clip (where the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle is clipped to the skin) or the retriever clip (where the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length and follows the outline of the dog). Beyond regular weekly grooming, an occasional bath will keep the Portie clean and looking his best.The Portuguese Water Dog once lived all along Portugal’s coast and was used to herd fish into nets, retrieve lost tackle, and act as a messenger between ships and shore. Click To Tweet
An athletic, active breed, the Portuguese Water Dog requires vigorous exercise every day to keep him healthy and happy. This can come in the form of long daily walks and play sessions with his owner. This extremely versatile breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine sports such as obedience, tracking, agility, rally, dock diving, and other activities that can be enjoyed by dog and owner. For many enthusiasts, the most special of all the training and exercise options for the Portie is water work.
The Portuguese Water Dog is very intelligent and responds well to obedience training. He is demanding of attention and human contact and greets friends and family with unbridled enthusiasm. The breed often thinks independently, and a Portie may sometimes challenge his owner’s will. He requires positive training methods as well as daily mental and physical exercise. Porties can sometimes be too exuberant for families with very young children.
Portuguese Water Dogs are generally healthy, and responsible breeders test their stock for health disorders and communicate with other dedicated breeders regularly, working together for breed health and preservation of the breed’s unique qualities. A Portie’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.
Did you know that 44th President Barack Obama owns two water dogs named Bo and Sunny?
The Portuguese Water Dog was recognized by the AKC in 1983 and is its 128th breed.
The Portuguese Water Dog coat is profuse, non-allergenic, non-shedding, and waterproof,
The Portie has webbed feet.
When Portugal faced social upheaval in the early 20th century, Dr, Vasco Bensuade, a wealthy Portuguese shipping magnate and dog fancier, took it upon himself to save the Portie breed.
Did you know that the Portie is one of our two five adventure dog breeds? This cheerful fellow is a champ: he was made for hard work, herding fish, retrieving lost tackle or broken nets, swimming as a courier between ships or from ship to shore, and in general, shines in the surf—there is not much he hasn’t done. But in spite of his love for the water, he’s at home on terra firma, too. So, if your hiking adventures will take you to the beach or the lake, he’s the top dog. Above all, be prepared for an active lifestyle: the Portuguese Water Dog is adventurous and thrives on daily mental stimulation and physical exercise. Like the Lab, he possesses a friendly demeanor which makes other hikers comfortable around him. But he also loves being within sight of you; this makes him an excellent companion on the trail, ill-suited to leave alone for long periods.