History and Health

The Portuguese Water Dog, known as the “Cao de Agua”(Kown-d’ahgwa) in Portugal, is a strong, robust, medium sized dog with a non-shedding curly or wavy coat. Either coat requires basic maintenance and regular grooming.

This well balanced, seafaring working dog once carried messages between ships and shore and retrieved broken nets and tackle because of his swimming and diving abilities. As a watchman, the Water Dog is still protective rather than aggressive and he is cautious and sensible with strangers.

The work of the Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) was displaced by modern fishing methods and by 1972 their numbers dwindled to less than 25 worldwide. Today the efforts of a few people have revived the breed and secured a healthy foundation stock in North America.

The robustness and high spirits of this fisherman’s dog must be understood as natural just as his retriever qualities make him “Mouthy”, not intentionally destructive. The PWD needs people. He thrives as a family member and gets on wonderfully with children and with other household pets.

He is the family comedian and invariably competes for center stage. Being the complex canine that he is, he wants love and trust and will prove himself trustworthy. He needs a daily dose of exercise outdoors, or may provide his own indoors. He works willingly for positive reinforcements; harsh punishment is counterproductive. For these reasons he makes a poor kennel dog, and in fact, does poorly in any restrained situation such as being tethered in a yard where he is bored and miserable.

Being greeted by a friend’s Portuguese Water Dog is unforgettable. As a stranger, you are likely to experience a penetrating nearly human stare. Once known to him, expect a raucous welcome, an offering of a favorite toy and possibly a cacophony of extraordinary sounds.

The Portuguese Water Dog is smart, lovable and needs a lot of attention. Channeling the stamina, intelligence and exuberance of this dynamic breed is highly rewarding although a challenge for any dog fancier.

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