Meet the Breed: Sweet and Salty

A veteran of the high seas, the Portuguese Water Dog buoys spirits far and wide.


To live with a breed that is often exuberant, impetuous and athletic, Portuguese Water Dog owners need a sense of fun, says Christine Harris, who has shared her home with Water Dogs for more than 20 years. “They need an owner who can tolerate a dog that understands that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, even if that leads him over the top of the sofa,” Harris says. “Having a Water Dog is similar to living with a perpetual 3-year-old with hair.”

Crazy for Bo
The Portuguese Water Dog found itself in the limelight in 2009, when President Barack Obama obtained one for his family. The puppy, named Bo, became a celebrity overnight; images of him romping with the first family flooded the popular media.

Predictably, puppy inquiries for the breed surged, and the dog community feared that irresponsible breeders would take advantage of the demand. Press releases from the parent club, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, offered information to the public, emphasizing that potential owners need to be aware that this is a bright, energetic and often rambunctious dog.

Maryanne Murray who in 1984 was the first owner-handler to finish a Portuguese Water Dog in the United States, believes that because the Obamas protect their family’s privacy and don’t overexpose Bo, the public’s desire to have a dog just like the President’s is lessened.

The Portuguese Water Dog has come a long way from the hardworking fisherman’s dog on the coast of Portugal, from near extinction to the fame and publicity of being America’s first dog.

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