Basics of Dog Breed : Portuguese Water Dog

Posted on November 28 2018

Basics of Dog Breed : Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is originally made for fishermen and waterfowl hunters. Nevertheless, and even if this breed is still unknown outside Portugal, this dog fits perfectly in family life. A faithful and loyal companion, he is gentle and endearing. His great intelligence is a great asset because it is easy to educate. Its maintenance is also very simple.

Race history

The breed of the  Portuguese Water Dog  is very old . It was developed by crossing various local varieties and Barbet . The province of the Algarve, in the south of present-day Portugal , is considered as its historical cradle. It was here that the Portuguese Water Dog continued to be employed as a fishing assistant, while this role was progressively withdrawn in the other coastal regions of the country, due to the modernization of the fishing activity. He was also used as a liaison dog between the boats and the shore, including messages.

Originally, it comes from the  cross  between  local breeds  and a  Barbet , hence the common traits of the latter. The Portuguese Water Dog also made a name for himself during the Battle of Trafalgar, working alongside the soldiers there too in the role of luxury messenger.

The custody of fishermen's property was also part of his duties. Around the 1960s, he began to be introduced to the United States. More recently, he gained media coverage following the adoption of Bo by the family of former US President Barack Obama. The race of the  Portuguese Water Dog  has been definitively recognized by the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) on February 1st, 1955.

Physical characteristics

Its hair: abundant, resistant, unique (without undercoat), long, woolly and dense. There are 2 varieties: one with long and wavy hairs, another with shorter hair and frizzy.
Its color: black, brown (white on the muzzle, pompom, neck, chest, belly, end of tail and limbs) or plain white (not albino).
Its head: strong, broad and harmonious proportions. The skull, bulging, is a little longer than the muzzle. The occipital protuberance is pronounced. The forehead is quite hollow, the eyebrows protruding. The stop is well marked, the truffle wide, the nostrils well open, the muzzle right and broad at the base, the thick lips, the jaws strong and articulated in scissors or pincer.
Its ears :thin, attached above the line of the eyes, carried against the head and raised at the back.
Its eyes: black or brown, medium size, well spread and slightly oblique.
Its body: The neck is straight, rounded and well muscled. The upper line is straight and horizontal, the tourniquet broad and not prominent, the back straight, broad and well muscled, the kidney runs and well attached to the rump, which is slightly inclined. The chest is broad and well down, the ribs long and well arched, the belly elegantly drawn.
Its tail: of medium high attachment, strong to its attachment and going in refining towards its end. Wrapped in a ring when the dog is awake.

Behavior with others

The  Portuguese Water Dog is  striking with great intelligence and remarkable docility. He shows a lot of enthusiasm during work. It has a  very balanced character  that makes it very easy to  educate . He is  loyal, loyal, courageous  and  willing  with his master and his adoptive family. His size allows him to have a great power of  deterrence , even if behind his body hides a dog of a sweetness and  friendliness unequaled . Indeed, he is also  very sociable  and sees no problem with the presence of congeners or other animals.

Auxiliary fisherman first-class, he never hesitates to dive to recover fish escaping. The Portuguese Water Dog relies on unrivaled swimmer qualities, as well as a particularly developed view and flair, to make himself indispensable. He is also a very good companion dog and can be a good guardian.


The Portuguese Water Dog is considered easy to educate . Obedient, very attached to his master and enthusiastic at work, he likes to learn and runs with pleasure. An education based on positive reinforcement makes it possible to obtain excellent results with this dog. A dose of firmness is associated with it, but this should not include any form of brutality.

The only advice to give and  take early , including to socialize in contact with foreigners, which he might be a little suspicious in the future. Thus, do not hesitate to  walk  in  public places  so that he can soak up this environment.

Living conditions

The ideal living environment for a  Portuguese Water Dog  would be a house with a large fenced garden and located near the sea , so that he can indulge in his favorite activity that is swimming. Otherwise, it can quite adapt to the city if it is regularly walked and if it can benefit from regular outings in full nature. The Portuguese Water Dog only feels good with his master. If he lives in a house with a garden, there is no point in leaving him alone. He will be bored and be subject to depression.


The  Portuguese Water Dog  is a robust and resistant dog . However, there are predispositions to certain diseases in this breed: cardiomyopathy, follicular dysplasia, hip dysplasia, Addison's disease (endocrine disease). As he gets older, he can also develop  cataracts  and lose his sight gradually. At the beginning of his life, the Portuguese Water Dog is susceptible to  Gangliosidosis type GM1 , which is a neurological disease that causes balance disorders.

Maintenance and hygiene

The  Portuguese Water Dog is an easy to maintain dog . It does not lose its hair , which facilitates its care and makes it the ideal dog for allergy sufferers . His need for maintenance is reduced, but not inexistent. It must be done regularly.

It is recommended to  brush the dog once a week . Eventually, it can be shorn once a year. It will be necessary to monitor and  clean the ears  of this dog regularly. Indeed, because of his love for water, he could be subject   to repeated ear infections.


The  diet  of the Portuguese Water Dog may consist of  human food  as  junk food . Thus, if  high quality croquettes  are a plausible alternative, this canine can be satisfied with human food to meet its great daily energy expenditure:  raw meat, fresh vegetables, rice and pasta  are excellent foods.

Physical activity

The  Portuguese Water Dog  is a very active dog , who must be able to benefit from frequent exits and exercises. The latter can be enjoyed in different canine sports such as agility  or  rescue exercises  because of its very good flair. He must be able to spend himself daily for a long time.

Price and budget

The purchase price of a Portuguese Water Dog is between 800 € and 1200 €.
The annual maintenance cost of a Portuguese Water Dog is between 1200 € and 1250 €.

Recent Posts