Portuguese Water

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35-50 lbs
Portie, PWD, Cao de Agua, Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dogs were originally bred around 700 B.C. and were used to help fishermen with several tasks in the water. Therefore, they are still known to love swimming and other water sports up to this day! They are lovely, family friendly dogs that get along well with other pets and children. They are known for their signature curly or wavy coat and webbed paws that help them do their job in the water. They are active and intelligent dogs that show talent for many canine sports, like tracking, agility, obedience and learning tricks. However, their high intelligence levels can be a blessing and a curse, as they can sometimes try to outsmart the owners. But with proper training and socialization, these dogs can be well behaved and adapt to any environment.

fishing aid
Date of Origin
700 BC

Portuguese Water Health

Average Size
Height: 20-23 inches Weight: 42-60 lbs
Height: 17-21 inches Weight: 35-50 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Addison's Disease
  • Follicular Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Physical Examination
  • X-Rays
  • Blood Test
  • Eye Examination

Portuguese Water Breed History

Portuguese Water Dog, the name says it all. These wonderful dogs originate from Portugal, where they were bred to help fishermen who would work between the Atlantic coast of Portugal and fishing grounds in Newfoundland. Their job would be to deliver messages between boats, driving the fish into the nets and retrieving lost items that have fallen into the water. They have various names, including Portuguese Fishing Dog and, commonly in their homeland, Cao de Agua, which translates into dog of the water. This breed is thought to be a descendant of the well known Poodle, which is another popular dog breed that was also bred as a water retriever, but was instead created in Germany. Although the Portuguese Water Dogs were very skilled at their job, these dogs came close to becoming extinct in the early 20th century, as the fishing industry was becoming more modernised and began to replace the dogs with machinery. It was thanks to Vasco Bensaude, who was a lover of the breed, that the Portuguese Water Dog is still around today. Other fans of the breed began writing breed standards and formed a club that was exclusive to the breed, and eventually these dogs began to make their appearance in dog shows. Skip forward several decades, and the Portuguese Water Dog is seen in England and the United States. It was in 1983 that the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was founded earlier in 1972.

Portuguese Water Breed Appearance

These dogs have single coats, which means that they do not have an undercoat. This can be either wavy or curly, and can be black, silver fox, gray, white, a variety of brown shades or a combination of black and white or brown and white in color. Many owners of these dogs will get them clipped in a lion cut or a retriever clip. They are medium sized dogs that have muscular bodies, with straight and level toplines. The head, which will be slightly bigger in length than the muzzle, is broad and domed shaped with a well defined stop. The noses will be broad and black, with teeth that meet in a level scissors bite. These dogs have medium sized dark, round eyes, with heart shaped ears that are high set and hang down. The Portuguese Water Dogs have tails that are thicker at the base and will taper out. They have straight legs with feet that are webbed, which helps them with swimming.

Portuguese Water Breed Maintenance

This breed will do best in homes with large and fenced in back yards that will allow them to play safely. However, they can adapt well to any home, including apartment life, as long as they do get enough exercise. This can be jogging, a long walk, going for a swim, playing fetch or any other forms of activity that will take between 30 minutes to an hour each day. It is important for your Portuguese Water Dog to get enough activity time, as they can become destructive if their energy does not get used. They do like to chew, and should have access to several chew toys, otherwise they could decide on their own what can be chewed on. They should be fed twice a day, and should get a daily amount of 2.5 to 3.5 cups. Your pet should be combed or brushed two to three times every week to prevent tangles, and the fur should be trimmed monthly. If your dog goes swimming often, they will need to be rinsed off with fresh water in order to remove any damaging chemicals. It is also important to properly dry off the ears after bathing and swimming, as damp ears can develop infections. Your dog’s teeth should be brushed two or three times in a week, but every day is best. Nail trimmings should be done once or twice a month.

Portuguese Water Breed Activity Requirements