Dog Breeds

Portuguese water dog

Portuguese water dog is a medium, strong build dog with curly or wavy thick hair, used as a hunter helper retrieving from the water, and more often – a family dog. He is cheerful, lively, balanced and likes to learn.


Portuguese water dog is a medium-sized dog with a strong and proportionate build, sometimes confused with a large poodle. Although he resembles him very much in terms of construction and type of coat, he is a bit more robust, and his coat comes in two types.

Portuguese water dog

The Portuguese likes to be close to the owner, take part in his classes. He attaches the most to the person who trains him and whom he considers a guide. He is gentle and friendly to other family members, but less obedient. In the company of children, he shows patience and tenderness.

He lives in friendship with pets. Also towards other dogs is not feisty.


Nature has given the Portuguese a great sense of smell and hearing. He is agile, he swims and dives great. He loves running and long walks. He learns quickly. He can be successfully trained in obedience, agility or retriever competitions. Dogs of this breed work as deaf assistants and dog therapists.

Portuguese water dog

Friendly or indifferent to strangers, can watch on their own. Unhappy every day, he signals the presence of an intruder.

Portuguese water dog. Training and education

The Portuguese Water Dog learns quickly and willingly. Even a novice owner should cope with his upbringing.

Who is this race for?

Although not difficult to lay down, it is not a dog for everyone – due to the high temperament and care requirements. A bored Portuguese can destroy objects. It will be a great companion of active people who like long walks or bicycle trips, as well as sailing lovers.

Portuguese water dog. Advantages and disadvantages


  • requires a lot of movement and attachment
  • requires regular care
  • on long hair brings a lot of garbage and mud


  • willing to cooperate
  • you can do dog sports with him
  • nice family companion
  • gentle to people and animals


Portuguese water dogs are not sick, although there are genetic health problems, such as dysplasia or eye diseases – cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (for the latter disease a genetic test is available, thanks to which its carriers can be used in breeding, associating them with healthy dogs). Juvenile cardiomyopathy is rare.

Portuguese water dog


Portuguese are greedy, which is an advantage in training, but means the need to control weight.


The Portuguese do not molt, which does not mean that they do not lose hair – they replace it gradually throughout the year. Some say that thanks to this they belong to hypoallergenic breeds – but even a non-non-lingering dog can sensitize.

The Portuguese requires a lot of care, because the neglected coat quickly felts. It should be combed at least once a week and bathed every two months. In summer, bathing may be less frequent if swimming in clear water.

Portuguese water dog

Uncut hair grows all over the body and can cover the dog’s eyes, so it should be undercut. Traditionally, the Portuguese cut the lion, but a bit simpler than poodles – the back of the trunk is shaved briefly along with the hind legs and tail, leaving only the ponytail at its end. The muzzle is also bent and the fringe is cut. Before the exhibition, the dog should be bathed and combed, but it is not mixed like a poodle.

If it is not exposed, it can be cut all over, but the quickly growing hair needs to be combed regularly. The wavy coat is slightly easier to care for than the curly one, but it can also be felt.

Portuguese Water Dogs come in three basic colors: black, brown in various shades (from light-brown to dark-heirloom) and white. They often have white markings on the muzzle, chest, paws and tail tip (no more than 30 percent of the body surface).

There are white dogs with black or brown patches, not recognized by the FCI pattern, but enjoying popularity in the United States.

Portuguese water dog. History

The Portuguese Water Dog is closely related to other shaggy quadrupeds, which for centuries not only retrieved from the water, but also worked as shepherds. They come from dogs that have reached the European continent from Asia.

Which roads hit the Iberian Peninsula can only be speculated. Perhaps Phoenician traders brought them here more than 1,000 years BC. Or maybe they were here with the Visigoths who came to the Iberian Peninsula in the 5th century AD. It is thought that they could have been accompanied by dogs from around Kyrgyzstan.

Another theory is that these shaggy quadrupeds were brought here by the Moors who invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century AD. Today the Portuguese region of the Algarve region is considered the birthplace of the breed.

Portuguese water dog

As early as 1297, a monk wrote a story about the rescue of a fisherman by a dog, also describing the animal’s appearance. It was to be a quadruped with long, black hair, with white paws, tail tip and muzzle. This is the first historical description of a Portuguese Water Dog.

These dogs helped fishermen to pull broken nets out of the water and even fish that escaped from them. They guarded the boats and houses. They were also used as links between boats and the mainland. However, with the development of fishing techniques, they began to lose their jobs. At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of these dogs decreased significantly.

Fortunately, in the 1930s, a rich shipowner, Vasco Bensaude, became interested in their fate, who began the planned breeding and established the first breed standard. The prototype was Leão, one of the few dogs still working with fishermen, who was not without difficulty managed to buy back. To this day, his blood flows in the veins of many descendants of the Algarbiorum line.

Bensaude attached great importance to maintaining the breed’s predisposition. Breeding bitches worked on his boats. Conchita Cintron de Castelo Branco continued her breeding work, at the end of his life he gave the last 17 dogs and all the notes. She established cooperation with American breeders and it was thanks to her that the first Portuguese went to the United States.

Another well-known breeder was Antonio Cabral, owner of the Alvalade kennel, who started operating in the 1950s.

The fate of this breed in its homeland had a terrible impact on the political changes in 1974 (the so-called carnation revolution), as a result of which Conchita Cintron went to the United States and most of the dogs from Alvalade found their way there.

The breed is very popular in the United States. Given that the Portuguese became “America’s first dog,” it can be expected to become even more popular there. In Europe, many of these dogs live in Scandinavia, Germany and the breed’s homeland.

Portuguese water dog. Template

Portuguese Water Dog – Group VIII FCI, Section 3, Model No. 37

  • Origin: Portugal
  • Character: dog willingly cooperating with a man, balanced, but full of energy, resistant to fatigue, loves to swim; gentle towards people, although he can watch the area; patient with children; peaceful towards dogs and other animals
  • Size: dogs 50-57 cm (ideally 54 cm), bitches 43-52 cm (ideally 46 cm)
  • Weight: dogs 19-25 kg, bitches 16-22 kg
  • Coat: thick, without undercoat; two types: curly (similar in structure to poodle hair) or wavy; there are also mixed-breed dogs; traditionally, the Portuguese have a haircut “on the lion”
  • Color: black, brown, white; black and brown dogs allow white markings on the mouth, head, neck, breast, abdomen, tail tip and on the feet below the elbows and ankles; white dogs should have black or brown pigmentation on the nose, rims of the eyes and mucous membranes of the mouth
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Vulnerability to training: high
  • Activity: high, needs a lot of movement and activity
  • Resistance/susceptibility to diseases: very resistant; there is dysplasia, eye diseases, and in the American population – heart problems

Interesting facts

Senator Edward Kennedy was a great fan of the breed. He had three Portuguese with the names Sunny, Cappy and Splash, who accompanied him at work. Water bowls and tennis balls were always on hand at the Capitol office, and government officials discussed matters of state weight, stroking their shaggy heads.

Splash barked when he got bored of sitting. He became the narrator of a children’s book written by the senator entitled “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington, DC.” Senator Kennedy gave the Portuguese puppy to the daughters of President Barack Obama.

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