The Portuguese Water Dog


The Portuguese Water Dog comes from the same ancestors as the Poodle. He pulled nets, dove for fish, and protected the boat when it was in port.

With the modernization of the fishing industry, PWD numbers plummeted. By the 1930’s the breed had neared extinction. Vasco Bensaude, a wealthy shipping magnate from Portugal, is entirely responsible for saving the PWD. He began a breeding program using the few dogs that remained. The most famous of his dogs was named Leao. Leao was bred to so many females that half of modern day PWD’s can be traced back to him.

The breeding program was a success and the Portuguese Water Dog’s popularity soared in America thanks to a letter written by Bensuade and published in an American magazine. Also contributing to the revitalization efforts was Deyanne Miller who helped form the Portuguese Water Club of America in 1972. The PWD was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1984.

President Obama took a Portuguese Water Dog with him into the White House.

Sizing up:

  • Weight: 35 to 60 lbs.
  • Height: 17 to 23 inches
  • Coat: Waterproof, wavy, curly
  • Color: Black, white, brown
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years

What’s the Portuguese Water Dog like?

The Portuguese Water Dog has a very agreeable disposition. He loves his family but establishes the strongest bond with whoever he perceives to be the alpha. He takes direction well and is happy to always remain at his master’s side.

The PWD loves the water of course, and will need a lot of exercise. He has high levels of energy which can’t be ignored.

The PWD will commonly jump to greet people and to get at whatever might be on the counter. If you hope to curtail this behavior you’ll need to start training early and always be consistent.

The PWD learns quickly and has an excellent memory. He also doesn’t shed and would be a great service dog. Often times he will be used to assist hearing impaired individuals.


The Portuguese Water Dog could possibly be afflicted by any one of several genetic diseases:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • GM1 Storage disease
  • Juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy

Takeaway points:

  • The PWD is an excellent family dog provided he’s exercised properly.
  • The PWD has a history of service and is a fast learning breed.
  • The PWD will want to stay by your side: he doesn’t like kennels or spending time alone.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Dogs and Kids

When you’re ready to add a dog to the family, proper preparation is vital. Before even bringing your new pup home, make sure you talk with your kids about the appropriate way to interact with animals. Set firm and consistent rules with both your children and your new family dog. It’s essential that everybody, both human and canine, know what is expected of them and how they should behave. Older children can benefit significantly from being a part of the training process, which can also help your new dog recognize the children as an important part of the pack.

Portuguese Water Dog Training

The Portuguese Water Dog is a great dog to train. It is willing to try anything. It is a bundle of joy, excitement and enthusiasm and it is highly susceptible to training. You can train your Portuguese Water Dog to do tricks or you can just train it to be more obedient and discipled, which is useful if you live in an apartment (check our Quiet Dog Breeds if so), you want to take it for walks without a lead, or you live with other pets (cats included) or children.

Of course, you still need to put the energy and the effort into that training.

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog originated from the Portuguese region of the Algarve. From there the breed expanded to all around Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. [1] Portuguese Water Dogs rode in fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off the coast of Iceland fishing for cod. [2]

In Portuguese, the breed is called cão de água ( IPA: [ˈkɐ̃w dɨ ˈaɡwɐ] literally 'dog of water'). In Portugal, 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. [3]

The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed only 36 Portuguese Water Dogs were entered for Britain's Crufts competition in 2013. [4] Though some breeders claim they are a hypoallergenic dog breed, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that hypoallergenic dog breeds exist. [5] [6] 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 US President Barack Obama, who has two of them, Bo and Sunny. [7] The Obama family chose Sunny for the breed's comparatively hypoallergenic nature, while Bo was given to them by Senator Ted Kennedy. [8]

Where Does the Portuguese Water Dog Come From?

The Portuguese Water dog as a breed dates back to the times before Portugal was even Portugal!

That didn’t happen until 1910, but the first known documented written evidence of this breed’s existence dates back as far as 1297.

And it’s now thought the breed likely existed in some form quite a bit earlier than that.

Today, thanks largely to the Obama’s two pet “Porties,” the Portuguese Water dog can be found in homes all over the world.

Watch the video: Portuguese Water Dogs Facts (September 2021).