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The Portuguese Water Dog has been around for a long time. There is documented evidence of the breed being around in the 12th century, or at least of a dog which closely resembled the modern PWD being a dog which had  a “black coat of rough hair, cut to the first rib and with a tuft on the tip of his tail.”

The dog was originally bred to assist the fishermen and the work it does is unique. It is taken out on the fishing boats, and works as a retriever of tackle that falls or is washed over-board, fish that jump the nets or line, a life saver, and as a courier from boat to boat or shore as the need arises. As well as being a strong swimmer he has the ability to dive underwater if needed.

The Portuguese Water Dog has very keenly developed senses with a good sense of smell, acute hearing and keen eyesight. His intense loyalty and sensitivity to the atmosphere around, not forgetting a loud and fairly deep bark, made him useful as a guard on the fisherman's boat. He was highly valued and was treated as part of the crew, receiving a ‘wage’ which took the form of part of the catch. As technology developed the Water Dog’s role diminished and, in the 1960s, it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the rarest breed of pedigree dog.

Leao 1931-1942

About the breed

Portuguese Water Dogs are strong-minded, with an independent streak, consistent leadership is a must.

Known for being a loyal, friendly and intelligent dog that likes nothing better than to please, they become valuable members of a household and like nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on around them.

Portuguese Water Dogs are very excitable and a bouncy breed. This should be taken into consideration when purchasing a puppy. This can be managed by teaching them impulse control. However, people that own the breed or are thinking about purchasing one, understand that this is a strong part of their character and are loved for it.

As well as being an excitable breed, Portuguese Water Dogs are a natural retriever. This means they like to carry something in their mouths and will pick up any object they desire. To help satisfy their oral fixation, they need to be provided with plenty of toys.

Separation anxiety is likely to develop in this breed if their exercise requirements are not met – they need at least two hours per day of vigorous activity.

Because they are so intelligent, Portuguese Water Dogs need to be given the right amount of mental stimulation every day otherwise a dog could develop some unwanted and destructive behavioural issues around the home.

Vital statistics

Weight: Female: 35-50 lbs (16-23 kg), Male: 42-60 lbs (19-27 kg)

Height: Female: 17-20 inches (45-32 cm), Male: 20-22 inches (50-57 cm)

Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Other Names:  Cão de Água Português, Cão de Água Algarvio

Three colours are allowed:

  • Black

  • White

  • Brown

They can also possess different combinations of either black or brown, with white.

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