The Portuguese Waterdog is an old breed, known for about 700 years. They are also called Cao de Agua, which means "dog of the water" in Portuguese. Long ago, before electronics advanced, PWDs were helpers of the fishermen in Portugal. Portuguese Water Dogs are great swimmers and retrievers. They also dive underwater. Therefore, they were used to retrieve items dropped from the boats, and to courier between two boats or from boat to shore. They were very important members of the crew, and were treated as such.

Now we use the PWD as a family dog. Portuguese Water Dogs are very active and intelligent dogs who want to work for the owner. The Portuguese Water Dog is a loyal companion and great to live with if you give them enough exercise and attention, and give them a job to do. They are excellent performance dogs in obedience, agility, waterwork, flyball and other competitive events. They still love to swim; and most of them are very good swimmers. PWDs are very intelligent and obiedient with those who work with them; but they are also self-willed, and not a breed for everyone! Those who are considering a Portuguese Water Dog should talk with the breeder about their plans for training and being active with the dog, to make sure the breed is a good fit for their lifestyle.

The Portuguese Waterdog has a non-shedding coat with no undercoat. The coat can be curly or wavy. Colors are black, white, and various tones of brown; also combinations of black, or brown with white. A white coat does not imply albinism providing that nose, mouth and eyelids are black. In animals with black, white, or black and white coats the skin is decidedly blueish.



In the showring in Europe you'll see the PWD in the traditional lionclip. As soon as the coat grows long the hair is shaved from the muzzle and the area from the first rib back, including the loin, hindquarters and legs of these dogs. At the end of the tail the hair is left at full length.

America and Canada also allow the retriever clip in the showring, and we often see it on pet dogs here. In order to give a natural appearance and a smooth unbroken line, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to follow the outline of the dog, leaving a short blanket of coat no longer than one inch in length. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length.

Regardless of the clip chosen, the Portuguese Water Dog requires regular brushing and combing, every few days, to keep the hair free of tangles and matts. Bathing every 3 or 4 weeks is common.

All breeds of dogs have health risks. Many health conditions are inherited through the sire and/or dam, and the dogs bred before them. The Portuguese Water Dog is faced with several health issues that all breeders should be aware of. When searching for a puppy, make sure you ask breeders about the health testing they do, and ask for copies of health certificates.

In the menu on the left you can find more information about health issues in the breed like, HD, PRA, GM-1, JDCM and others.

The Portuguese Water Dog's non-shedding coat makes it easier for people with allergies to live with this breed compared to double-coated, shedding breeds. It is recommended that a person with allergies spend several hours at a breeder's home or in a small confined area, such as a car, interacting with adult Portuguese Water Dogs before you buy a puppy, on at least two occasions. This will test the allergic response to the breed.

Some Portuguese Water Dogs have an improper coat. This term relates to the nature of the coat and the resulting appearance of the dog. It does not impact the health, intelligence, or personality of the dog. It does, however, mean that the dog does not conform to breed standard in appearance. This would be of concern to those who are considering showing their dog or want to be sure the puppy they get will "look like" a Portuguese Water Dog. Improperly coated dogs and puppies may have a double coat that sheds and has dander similar to other double-coated shedding breeds. This may make them inappropriate for people with allergies to canine dander.

If you are looking for an active dog with a lot of humor and a mind of it's own, which requires regular and extensive grooming, the Portuguese Waterdog might be the right breed for you.

THE BREED