All About the Portuguese Water Dog

Learn all about the Portuguese Water Dog, a non-shedding dog breed that is great with kids.

By Paolo Correa | June 20, 2012

Portuguese Water Dog PhotoThe Portuguese Water Dog is an extremely bright and active dog breed. Its uncanny intelligence can be very challenging to new owners. Portuguese Water Dog puppies can be very demanding. They require constant attention and cherish family interaction right through adulthood. Portuguese Water Dogs can be sensitive and should always be trained with positive reinforcement. If you choose a young puppy, expect him to chew anything that is easily accessible. The young Portuguese Water Dog has even been known to eat plants and other vegetation right down to the roots! These dogs should be heavily supervised at all times and safely crated if left for extended periods of time.

The Portuguese Water Dog comes in two different coat types: wavy and curly; both coat types are equally acceptable. They have a robust stature and webbed toes, with a well-balanced and muscled physique. The Portuguese Water Dog is a tremendous swimmer and has unique diving skills; these are rugged dogs that love to work outdoors. This dog breed’s athleticism and intelligence have allowed it to excel in agility, flyball, obedience and even tracking. Portuguese Water Dogs are quick learners and eager to please their owners. At the same time, these dogs can be extremely sensitive and their feelings are easily hurt.

The Portuguese Water Dog has sometimes been described as the "clown” of the water dog family. They seem to have sudden bursts of energy that come out of nowhere. Frequently, Portuguese Water Dogs can be found sitting calm and motionless. Then, only minutes later, they will be running around from room to room in an excited way. If you are looking for a calm, docile dog, the Portuguese Water Dog may not be the right one for you. These dogs have a unique sense of humor that doesn’t always sit well with some individuals. Daily exercise, and plenty of it, is an absolute necessity for this dog breed. A Portuguese Water Dogs is best suited to the active owner who enjoys long walks to an open field or park, or frequent visits to the beach or lake. This dog’s excellent retrieving abilities make them good flying-disc dogs and perfect companions for simple fetching games. 

The Portuguese Water Dog is a quick learner. This is the reason why this dog breed has done very well in all types of performance and sporting activities. The Portuguese Water Dog loves to please his owners and will go to extremes to do so. These dogs are energetic, affectionate and trustworthy, and they thrive on human attention. They bond very easily. Despite this dog breed’s loyalty to its owners and immediate family, it can be reserved with strangers. In fact, Portuguese Water Dogs make good watchdogs and will bark to alert you of possible danger when confronted with a stranger or the arrival of an unfamiliar car or person. This dog breed’s bravery and independence are easily recognizable. Portuguese Water Dogs do very well with children and other animals. Their high energy will keep both the dog and your child busy for hours while they enjoy each other’s company in play. Of course, any dogs and young children should always be supervised.

If you are looking for a dog that requires minimal grooming, you may want to look elsewhere. The Portuguese Water Dog requires consistent grooming that includes a firm brushing at least three times a week to remove mats and shed hair, which often becomes caught in the dog’s long coat. Although they do shed, Portuguese Water Dogs shed less than one might think for a heavily coated dog breed. In dog show competition, the Portuguese Water Dog is exhibited in one of two clips: the "lion” and the "retriever.” With the lion clip, the dog’s hindquarters as well as the muzzle are clipped short. The end of the dog’s tail is left long and the coat on the head, neck, forequarters and chest is left long to resemble the lion’s mane. The retriever clip is the choice of many Portuguese Water Dog owners; this is also acceptable for showing. If you decide to go with the retriever clip, the dog’s entire coat is scissored or clipped to a length of 1 inch, except the end of the tail, which is left long. If you are a new Portuguese Water Dog owner, it’s probably best to contact your breeder or an experienced groomer before attempting to clip your dog yourself.

In the field, Portuguese Water Dogs can be taught to flush out upland game and water fowl. They are excellent retrievers with soft mouths. Portuguese Water Dogs even have a distinctive innate herding ability. Whether it’s in the field or in the home, Portuguese Water Dogs make wonderful companions. They are truly "people dogs” and require the utmost respect and loyalty. If you’re willing to give these dogs the attention and love they require, you will certainly receive that same respect back and learn the meaning of true friendship.

Excerpt from Portuguese Water Dog, part of the Comprehensive Owner’s Guide series, with permission from its publisher, Kennel Club Books, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Portugese Water Dog here.

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Joe   Langhorne, Pennsylvania

2/20/2013 8:08:57 AM

My PWD is now 13 months old , all that is written is correct . I'm happy we have each other , I do groom her daily which makes it easy , along with brushing her teeth .

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