The Portuguese Water Dog is a working dog breed which comes originally from the Portuguese city of Algarve. From there the dog spread through the entire coastline of Portugal and began to be used by various fishermen for various purposes. They are good at herding fish and cornering them towards nets. They have also been used to retrieve nets and also as couriers between boats. This is actually a very rare breed by today’s standards and not a lot of dogs are accounted for. But the breed gained on popularity once it was made known that the former president of the United States, Barack Obama, possesses two of them.
There are a variety of names that the Portuguese Water Dog has and one of them is cão de água, which is their Portuguese name which simply translates as water dog. They are also known as Algarvian Water Dog or the Portuguese Fishing Dog. In Portugal, the wavy-haired ones are called cão de água de pêlo ondulado, while the ones with a curly coat are referred to as cão de água de pêlo encaracolado.
History & Origins
There are some assumptions that says that the Portuguese Water Dog descends all the way back with the Goths and comes from the Asian steps. But het first mentioning of this dog is descried in 1297 by a monk who told a story of a drowning sailor saved by one of these dogs. The theory also proposes that the Portuguese Water Dog and the Puddle are actually related and come from the same gene pool.
The modern history of the Portuguese Water Dog is related to Vasco Bensaude and dates back to the 1930s. Through various breeding programs, he established a perfect breed that would be used by fishermen. This later brought to the creation of the Avalade kennels in Portugal, created by Dr. António Cabral. In 1972 the breed was introduced to America and along with other 14 dog breeds created the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc.
Portuguese Water Dog Characteristics & Temperament
The Portuguese Water Dog is generally an intelligent and loving animal, but can be independent at times. They can easily be trained and they will excel at obedience and agility skills. Since they are working dogs by nature, they will keep close to their master and get instructions from them. This has been inbreed with them while they were still dogs working on boats and they had a tendency to be close to their master. Today, thy usually have a tendency to create a specific bond with a dominant member of the family and stick with them. They enjoy both being indoors and outdoors and they will always keep close to your side.
They can still be stubborn and independent and they will sometimes pull the master while walking them. But training will help them become well rounded and obedient dogs. They are great as family dogs and are willing to approach strangers. Due to their playful nature, they also like being close to kids and enjoy playing with them. They do not mind being petted.
Appearance, Colors, Size
The Portuguese Water Dog is recognized for its curly and wavy coat. They have webbed toes for swimming and their fur is water proof. These dogs are robustly built and possesses stout legs. They are relatively related to Poodles, but are much bigger than them. They share similar coats, but the Portuguese Water Dog has a much thicker bone structure. Also, they are well developed and have a solid build and very muscular bodies.
The average size of a Portuguese Water Dog is between 20 and 23 inches in height. They weigh about 40 to 60 pounds. Females are smaller and they are usually between 17 to 21 inches in height and their weight is between 35 and 50 pounds.
As far as their coats go, the Portuguese Water Dog has a single layer of coat that does not shed. Some people claim that it is hypoallergenic, but there are no exact evidence to support the claim that this is exactly so. Nevertheless, these dogs are perfect for people who suffer from allergies. The accepted coat colors include black, black and white, brown, or silver-tipped. White spots on the chest and paws also occur and are accepted. There are other types that are also possible but are not generally accepted by Kennel Clubs.
Portuguese Water Dog Health
The Portuguese Water Dog has an average life expectancy for this type of a dog. The lifespan is calculated to be somewhere between 10 and 14 years. This is a usual amount of years that a dog of this size gets. But you can still manage to excel its life by providing it with enough care.
There are a variety of conditions that may affect your dog. Of course, not all dogs are prone to this but you could watch for these and try also and avoid them by taking the dog to a vet. Most notable conditions include progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, distichiasis, GM1 Storage Disease and Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy.
Grooming & Shedding
The Portuguese Water Dog does not shed. It also has a coat which is perfect for keeping indoors and does not make a mess. It is perfect for people who suffer from allergies. But what you also need to know is that these dogs require high maintenance. If left unchecked, the hair of this dog will simply keep on growing indefinitely. This is why it is important that you clip the hair every three months. It may create matting or even worse it may lead to irritation. If you do not cut the hair around the dog’s eyes, it will impair its vision. There are a few ways that you can groom and cut the hair of your dog, with the most popular ones being the Lion Cut and the Retriever cut.
Price and Breeders
Due to the rarity of getting a Portuguese Water Dog, they are very expensive to get. On average, their price is around 2,500 dollars per pup. There are not many specimens available today, at least no pure breed ones. This makes these dogs exotic specimens and their price is high for that reason alone.
Portuguese Water Dog Rescue
If the high price of a Portuguese Water Dog turns you away, you can always consider rescue groups as one of your options. Contact Portuguese Water Dog Club of America Rescue and learn more about ways of adopting and rescuing a dog. This will be beneficial for you and will certainly help the dog.