Portuguese Water Dog
Type: Gun Dog
Height: Males: 19.5 - 23 inches; Females: 16 - 21 inches.
Weight: Males: 43 - 60 lbs.; Females: 35 - 50 lbs.
Life Span: 10 - 14 years.
Litter Size: 4 - 8 puppies.
Country of Origin: Portugal
Watch-dog: Very High. They are highly aware of their surroundings and will bark only to make known something unusual.
Description: The Portuguese Water Dog is a seafaring breed and was prized by fishermen in Portugal for being spirited, yet obedient in nature. A web-footed dog, they are a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability. They fit well into many types of lifestyles, they are usually a quiet dog who only barks when they are on watchdog duty. They have been said to "climb up and down an octave" when they bark, expressing the range of vocal tones used. Distinctly a water dog, they love the water and will courageously jump in to do whatever task is presented. They are self-willed, but obedient to their owners. Portuguese Water Dogs are intelligent, energetic dogs. They have great stamina and love fun, family and life! Portuguese Water Dogs are sensitive to commands, and should not require extensive training. They respond well to direction, although they may be stubborn to children or strangers. They are rather aloof and apprehensive around strangers, and are certainly willing to be a watchdog and a guard dog if needed. This breed is a medium sized dog, with black, white, brown or a combination of a solid with patches of color. They can have shorter, thick curls, or a shiny, wavy and loosely curled coat of medium length. They have a nose that matches the rest of the body color, and dark eyes that are often hidden behind a curtain of fur. Not only is their fur soft, but it is known to be more tolerable to people with allergies. Spunky and affable, the Portuguese Water Dog is talented in more ways than one.
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Other Names: Cao de Agua, Portuguese Fishing Dog, Cao de Agua de Pelo Ondulado (longhaired type), Cao de Agua de Pelo Encaradolado (curly-coated type).
Colors: Solid black, white, or various shades of brown. They can be a solid color with patches of a different color on the body. It is often on the chest.
Coat: Profuse and thick except under forelegs and thighs. There are two coat types: medium length fur that is silky and wavy, and a shorter, thicker, and curlier version.
Temperament: Portuguese Water Dogs are obedient and friendly. They are intelligent, follow direction easy and are most of the time obedient to their masters. They can be stubborn and independent when it comes to anyone else, even the owner's children. They are biddable, devoted to family, and has great endurance and courage. They are energetic and fun-loving, sensitive, and they absolutely love the water. They get along well with other pets and children, and can be either a companion or a retriever, or both. They are apprehensive around strangers, and make excellent guard dogs and watch dogs.
With Children: Yes, very good with children but they may have difficulty obeying them as they see them as equals.
With Pets: Yes, usually accepts other pets but may be territorial or jealous.
Special Skills: Fisherman's working dog and family pet.
Care and Training: Regular brushing and combing of their coat. Weekly cleaning of their ears, especially after swimming. Teeth and nails should be checked periodically. Portuguese Water Dogs need ample exercise which should consist of free exercise, daily walks or swimming. Owners warn that this breed is very likely to become obese if not exercised properly on a regular basis. Portuguese Water Dogs like to work and are easy to train, they thrive in obedience training. Have consistent training with the right tone of voice, as they are very sensitive.
Learning Rate: High. Obedience - High. Problem-Solving - High.
Special Needs: Exercise, grooming and training.
Living Environment: A home with a fenced yard is needed as they are an active dog. The owner of a Portuguese Water Dog needs to take time to exercise, socialize and train them. The best owner for this breed would be an active family or individual living in a rural or suburban environment.
Health Issues: PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), glycogen storage disease, Addison's disease, cancer, cardiac problems, gastrointestinal disease, renal problems, hip dysplasia and skin allergies.
History: Known in Portugal as the Cao de Agua which means "dog of water", they are a very old breed that originates from the province of Algarve in Portugal. They are thought to have come, like most other water dogs, onto the Iberian Peninsula with the Moors from northern Africa. An invaluable source to the fishermen of Portugal, they were used by to help set nets, herd schools of fish and to carry messages between boats. They were used all the way from Portugal to Iceland in their duties. These Water Dogs were said to be able to alert the crew of a school of fish simply from sitting on the bow of the boat. Other tasks included capturing escaped fish from the nets, diving to retrieve lost persons in the water or other objects, and carrying nets from boat to boat in order to aid in the hunt. The breed has a great swimming ability and has helped to "herd" fish into nets. After serving as a fishing dog all day they would be rewarded with a meal of fish. Not only did the breed catch the fish and announce their presence, but they served as a foghorn at night to warn off other boats in the dark. One Portuguese Water Dog was so prized that it was actually put on a fisherman's payroll! The dogs were protected, and anyone who hurt a Cao de Agua would be punished. After the revolution of industry, the dogs' numbers severely declined. They were revealed to England in the 1950s, but almost died out after this. In the 1960s it was thought that only 50 still survived! Fortunately, a wealthy shipping aristocrat named Vasco Bensaud picked up the breed and revitalized it. Near this same time, a Connecticut breeder named Deyanne Miller was credited with bringing the breed to the United States. They very slowly gained a following in the U.S. The breed was registered by the AKC in 1984.
First Registered by the AKC: 1983
AKC Group: Sporting Group
Class: Gun Dog
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 8), KC (GB), UKC