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portuguese water dog picture

Size: Medium - large
43 - 57 cm (17 - 22.5 inches)
Weight: 16 - 25 kg (35 - 55 lb)
Life Span: 14 years
Tireless & sociable
Country of Origin:
AKC Group:
Other Names:
Cão de Agua

The Portuguese Water Dog is sociable, friendly, high-spirited and obedient. Portuguese Water Dogs like to work hard and quickly understand what is expected of them with their level of intelligence. They are sensitive to the intonations in their handlers voice and need early training as a puppy to avoid stubborn streaks developing as they become older. They get along well with other dogs and pets and are very friendly with children. Portuguese Water Dogs make good family pets with their cheerful attitude.

Depending on the type of coat, these dogs tend to be groomed differently. The wavy-coated variety is usually clipped closely around the hindquarters and on the nose. The curly-coated dogs commonly have a working retriever clip where only the tail is closely clipped. These Portuguese Water Dogs need to be regularly brushed and combed.

As the name suggests these dogs love water and swimming. They are working dogs and need plenty of exercise and their favourite activity is usually retrieving items from water. Portuguese Water Dogs are suitable for agility trials and many other dog sports. They need space and freedom and are not suited for urban living.

Portuguese Water Dogs have a long history and their similarity to the Poodle cannot be ignored. One theory is that they arrived in Portugal with the invading Moors in the 8th century, meanwhile another theory suggests that they arrived with the Goths in the 4th century. This breed played an important role with the Portuguese fisherman by herding fish into nets and retrieving the nets. In the early 20th century when fishing methods changed these dogs fell in numbers considerably. However it was fortunate that a rich shipping businessman and dog lover took it upon himself in the 1930s to restore this breed and save it from extinction.

Physical Characteristics:

General Appearance: Robust, poodle-like and active.
Color: White, black or brown with or without white.
Coat: There are two types of coats. (1) Long with loose waves and a good sheen. (2) Shorter cylindrical curls with less sheen. There is no undercoat and the dog is often trimmed with a 'lion' clip style.
Tail: Long and with a plume on the clipped variety.
Ears: Pendant and set above the eyeline.
Body: The body is slightly longer than it is tall. The short neck runs into widely set withers, a short back and slightly sloping croup. The fore and hindquarters are very muscular.

Additional Comments:

  • Portuguese Water Dogs have exaggerated webs on their feet to help them swim quickly.
  • This breed looks similar to the Poodle as they have can have the same 'lion' clipped coat. The heads of the Portuguese Water Dogs are not as refined as the Poodles.
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