Portuguese Water Dogs were once working dogs that worked on the coast of Portugal. They herded fish into the nets; retrieved lost tackle or broken nets, and acted as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. They worked not only in the warm Atlantic waters of Portugal but also the cold fishing waters off the coast of Iceland.
It is a fairly rare breed that has slightly webbed feet ideal for swimming. Its closest cousin is the Standard Poodle.
PWDs come in a number of different colors. Black is the most common color. Sliver tipped, black and white, or brown can also be seen. White chests and legs on black or brown coats are acceptable. “Parti” coats, with white coat and black spots, are rare but they are becoming more popular in the US.
In Portugal the breed standard does not allow more than 30% white markings. White is one of the less-common colors. Their skin has an interesting bluish tinge that is hard to notice underneath the black fur. White varieties have pink skin and are more sensitive to sun exposure than black or brown dogs.
Two coat types can be found. A wavy coat falls gently in waves – not curls – while having a slight sheen. A curly coat is compact with cylindrical curls and it doesn’t have a sheen to it. The hair on the ears is sometimes wavy. White hair is usually finer than black hair.
PWDs have a single layered coat, and thus they are considered to be hypoallergenic. This breed does not shed its fur. Just like with human hair, it only falls out when the hair root has died. The hair is usually worn in a “retriever cut” or a “lion cut.” The hindquarters, muzzle, and the base of the tail are shaved and the rest of the body is left full length. Sometimes an “improper coat” can be seen. This results from a genetic anomaly that causes the dog to have an undercoat.
They may not be shown in competitions, but otherwise they are healthy and have all the excellent traits of PWDs. Grooming entails trimming the coat every two months and it is usually easier to take the dog to a professional groomer.
Hip Dysplasia, Fatal Neurological Disorder may be an issue as well as GM-1 Storage Disease.
Portuguese Water Dogs are very loving, intelligent and independent dogs. They love to be by their master’s side, being close to them both indoors and outdoors. They love attention as well as activities of all kinds. When bored, they will become destructive.
A PWD will commonly jump as a greeting. Although they get along with other animals, they will usually only really bond with one alpha family member. They may have tugging and chewing tendencies since the water dogs instinct in them is strong. This breed makes an excellent guard dog due to its determination to defend its territory. They have a very loud and distinctive bark that is often called a laugh, because it is loud, irregular, and used during play or during greetings.
A PWD will do okay in an apartment as long as it is taken for regular and long walks, since it has a lot of energy. It was bred to be a working dog and it is not a lazy breed. It can get active indoors, but a small yard is also acceptable. This is not a breed to be left alone for long periods of time, indoors or out, since it needs human companionship.