Living with Portuguese Water Dogs.
By Anthony Bongiovanni
Where to start. At the beginning I suppose.
After spending twenty five years with Pharaoh hounds and having admired the PWD from afar, I met a very special young lady and I think she agrees it was love at first sight. She has been my perfect girl from day one, she was always the easiest puppy and seemed to know everything I wanted from her and needed little training. At thirteen she is still my perfect princess and the foundation of the kennel and without a doubt queen bee of the home.
She was followed by another girl who is very different and yet very similar. She from day one was a handful and quite happy to destroy anything she took a fancy too. Pens, reading glasses, wallets chair legs and even a bit of wall. Her appetite to learn, was and still is phenomenal. She had learnt to sit, lie down, stand and heel in a week, she learnt the same commands at distance as well as a send away by six months. She has no fear of anything and has a go at anything you ask her to or she thinks will be fun. With this mentality it soon became clear that she needed to exercise her mind as much as body and so she has always spent part of her day doing something of mind work fetch games and incorporate some distance commands and some directions to locate toys plus some search work. Had the second princess been the first she may well of been the last! Gladly she taught me lots and has proven what a wonderful breed the PWD is.
The Girls have been followed by another two Girls and two boys. All have taught me you never stop learning with a PWD in the house let alone six. They are at their happiest when as near to you as they can be so early learning to be a little self sufficient is essential if you want to leave your pup alone. If you don’t want a dog that follows you to make a drink, the bathroom or the garden maybe not the breed for you as it’s their mission in life to make sure they don’t miss any excitement with you.
They are all very quick to learn how to push your buttons and if you are happy to let them make decisions they will, and before you know it you have a pup that screams at you for a walk, entertainment, food or their biggest requirement attention. If screaming doesn’t get the required response mouthing is another favoured way of gaining your attention.
So mouthing is one thing they all have in common they love to hold your hand and lead you around especially when you come home or rejoin them after a separation like a loo break. Normally a loud yell of ouch is enough to stop this behaviour when young. Unchecked mouthing can develop into a great game
for puppies, not so great for the rest of the family as it can become painful as the puppy develops. If the ouch is failing, then encouragement to fetch a toy when they greet you is another effective way to channel their enthusiasm and also a great way of giving them something to think about which works that brain.
Meal times can be trying as with all puppies, they go through a phase of not eating. One of the differences is if you then pander they can become difficult to feed! refusing food which then becomes a game which leads to stress for the owner which then worries the pup who then can overthink eating. I’ve found that this often also leads to pushing boundaries in other parts of their life such as recalls and ignoring commands which makes life difficult. However a little perseverance and consistency soon rectifies the situation and returns your pup to the little darling you started with.
PWD have two coat types the wavy which is most common and the curly both coats need grooming to stop matting and if you should want to show,
Above left pet clip above right show clip
some clipping is required as the breed has a traditional working trim for the ring. Known as the lion clip, removing the long coat from the last rib back and from the muzzle allows the dog to work much better in the water which is the second happy place in a PWD’s life. Although they have hair they do lose it in balls of fluff which are kept to a minimum if a regular Comb through is done or if not being shown they have an all over clip.
As you can assume from the name of the breed, they love they love water for the most part, be it a swimming pool the sea or just a muddy puddle they will find it and make the most of it.
If you love water you won’t find a better companion for adventure with no fear of waves and the urge to run into them and dive through they are game for all sorts of water activities.
As they were expected to guard their owners boats in the past they also have an eye out for trouble which adds to their ability as a family dog.
To summarise, once you have passed the first year and made your rules clear life becomes easier and you should have a dog with a huge amount of character, a great comic outlook on life and a true member of the family. Their greatest joy is being with you and helping you do whatever you want to do.