Portuguese Water Dog Info & Portuguese Water Dog Breeders

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The Portuguese Water Dog is a breed of working dog. Portuguese Water Dogs are originally from the Portuguese region of the Algarve, from where the breed expanded to all around Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. Portuguese Water Dogs rode in bobbing fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the warm Atlantic waters of Portugal to the frigid fishing waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod to bring home. Portuguese Water Dogs were often taken with sailors during the Portuguese discoveries.


In Portugal, the breed is called Cão de Água (literally "dog of water"). In its native land, the dog is also known as the Algarvian Water Dog (Cão de Água Algarvio), or Portuguese Fishing Dog (Cão Pescador Português).Cão de Água de Pêlo Ondulado is the name given to the wavy-haired variety, and Cão de Água de Pêlo Encaracolado is the name for the curly-coated variety.


The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed; only 36 Portuguese Water Dogs were entered for Britain's Crufts competition in 2013.  Their non-shedding qualities have made them more popular in recent years.  The Portuguese Water Dog has recently gained more fame by being the chosen breed of U.S. president Barack Obama, who has two of them.


The Portuguese Water Dog non-shedding coat 

The single layered hair and non-shed coat makes them very suitable to those who suffer allergic reactions to pet fur, or those that just don’t like fur everywhere. There are two types of coats, some being wavy and others curly. The wavy falls gently in waves with a slight sheen. The curly coat has compact cylindrical curls that gives an aphro look and lacks lustre. Both coats still feel quite soft to touch, with the curly having a slightly harsh texture. 


Portuguese Water Dog Temperament

Portuguese Water dogs make excellent companions. They are loving, independent, and intelligent and are easily trained in obedience and agility skills. Once introduced, they are generally friendly to strangers, and enjoy being petted, which, due to their soft, fluffy coats, is a favour that human beings willingly grant them.


Because they are working dogs, PWDs are generally content in being at their master's side, awaiting directions, and, if they are trained, they are willing and able to follow complex commands. They learn very quickly, seem to enjoy the training, and have a long memory for the names of objects. These traits and their non-shedding coats mean they excel at the various Service Dog roles such as hearing dogs (assistance dogs for the deaf), mobility dogs, and seizure response dogs. They also make unusually good therapy dogs.


A PWD usually stays in proximity to its owners, indoors as well as outdoors. This is typical of the breed. Though very gregarious animals, these dogs will typically bond with one primary or alpha family member. Some speculate that this intense bonding arose in the breed because the dogs were selected to work in proximity to their masters on small fishing boats, unlike other working dogs such as herding dogs and water dogs that range out to perform tasks. In any case, the modern PWD, whether employed on a boat or kept as a pet or a working dog, loves water, attention, and prefers to be engaged in activity within sight of a human partner. This is not a breed to be left alone for long periods of time, indoors or out.


As water dogs, the PWD's retrieving instinct is strong, which also gives some dogs tugging and chewing tendencies.


A PWD will commonly jump as a greeting. Owners may choose to limit this behavior. Some PWDs may walk, hop, or "dance" on their hind legs when greeting or otherwise enthusiastic. Some PWDs will stand upright at kitchen counters and tables, especially if they smell food above them. This habit is known as "counter surfing" and is characteristic of the breed. Although it can be a nuisance, many PWD owners evidently enjoy seeing their dogs walking, hopping, standing up, or "countering" and do not seriously discourage these activities.


While they are very good companions to people who understand what they need, Portuguese Water Dogs are not for everyone. Because of their intelligence and working drive, they require regular intensive exercise as well as mental challenges. They are gentle and patient — but not "couch potatoes", and boredom may cause them to become destructive.

Potential health issues in Portuguese Water Dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs generally have a lifespan of 10-16 years.  Like many breeds, they can be prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and distichiasis (ingrown eyelashes).   DNA testing is available for some of the known genetic health issues to ensure healthy dogs are bred, but as in any breed there are issues that can arise without reason.




Portuguese Water Dog Clubs and Associations in Australia
None at this time.


Portuguese Water Dog Clubs and Associations in the UK
Portuguese Water Dog Club of Great Britain


Portuguese Water Dog Clubs and Associations in the US
Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc.
Rescue Program – Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc


To list your club or organisation here please contact us

If you are a small scale ANKC registered breeder and would like to be listed here, just contact us or follow a few simple steps .


We welcome helpful comments and contributions to information about this breed by email or below...

Registered Portuguese Water Dog Breeders

Ebbnflow Portuguese Water Dogs
The Portuguese Water Dog is a beautiful breed that is still considered a rare breed here in Australia.

We are registered CCCQ (Canine Control ... read more
Rulett Kennels owns and breeds Portuguese Water Dogs that are sound and healthy of mind and body, are clever and beautiful and are capable of ... read more
RYZYLVA Portuguese Water Dogs
We aim to produce healthy, happy PWDs with beauty and brains. Our dogs compete in conformation, obedience & rally, as well as being loving ... read more