Portuguese Water Dog: The Amazing Traits And Characteristics Of The Fisherman’s Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog: The Amazing Traits And Characteristics Of The Fisherman’s Dog


The bouncy and rambunctious Portuguese water dog might be your new best friend if you’re seeking a family dog with a velcro personality or a companion for physical activity.

You have come to the perfect partner if you are seeking someone to go swimming or fishing with you. The Portuguese water dog is a natural-born swimmer and an athlete in every aspect of its makeup.

These dogs are blessed with powerful bodies and exceptionally keen minds, making them the ideal companions for persons who lead active lifestyles or who are looking for a dog with which they can engage in a great deal of competition training.

“They’re like the ultimate velcro dog,” says Cindra Delgado, owner of Cindel Portuguese Water Dogs. “They just stick to you like glue,” she adds. They will follow you no matter where you go.

The playful and eager-to-please nature of the Portuguese water dog makes him an excellent pet for households with children.

Because of their high level of intelligence and profound empathy, they are also highly successful in the roles of therapy and service dogs.

Appearance Of Portuguese Water Dog

Poodles are generally considered to be the Portuguese water dog’s closest genetic cousin, even though the breed’s pedigree may be traced back approximately 800 years, making the breed’s origins rather obscure.

portuguese water dog

When you compare the two breeds, you’ll notice that they share a lot of the same qualities, which explains why this makes a lot of sense.

The coat of the Portuguese water dog can either be curly or wavy, depending on the variety. In both instances, the hair is medium, long, and has a single coating.

The coat is available in tans, browns, blacks, and whites, with the latter being significantly more uncommon than the others. The most typical color combination for a Portuguese water dog’s coat is black and tan.

However, some of these canines even have three different colors. In addition, it is not uncommon for all-black or all-brown types to have a spot of white on their chins.

This is a typical coloration (referred to as “milk chin”). Coats are typically cut in either the “lion cut” or the “retriever cut,” both of which are named after their respective styles.

The former method only shortens the coat on the nose, hindquarters, and base of the tail. In contrast, the latter method shortens the coat uniformly across the body to a length of around one inch.

The Portuguese water dog is known for having a very sparse shedding pattern. Most of the hair they release is captured by the waves or curls they have.

Although there is no such thing as a dog that is completely “hypoallergenic” because they all shed to some degree or another, it is common knowledge that Portuguese water dogs are an excellent breed for persons who suffer from allergies to hair or dander.

They have webbed feet to help them swim, and their bodies are somewhat longer than they are tall, giving them an overall shape that is not quite square.

The height of female dogs ranges from 17 to 21 inches, while the height of male Portuguese water dogs is from 20 to 23 inches.

Temperament Of Portuguese Water Dog

The intelligence of the Portuguese water dog is astounding, just like that of its poodle ancestors.

They were originally bred to be fishing dogs and trained to herd schools of fish into nets, retrieve broken nets and tackle, and act as couriers, conveying messages from ship to ship and ship to shore.

Initially, they were trained to herd schools of fish into nets. Delgado believes that experienced dog owners would be better suited to care for Portuguese water dogs because these canines are intelligent and eager to work.

Learning new skills and participating in fun games are two of the Portuguese water dog’s favorite activities now that they have largely transitioned from working with fish to households.

They frequently take on the persona of clowns to make their people laugh and attract their attention. They perform exceptionally well in contests involving obedience, agility, flyball, and water. If you are looking for a dog to compete with, consider getting one of these.

If you are considering entering your dog into a competition, you should be sure to have the dog examined by a veterinarian first. The Portuguese water dog is a friendly and extroverted breed that enjoys meeting new people and making new friends.

Under the right conditions, according to Sarah Moore, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology), they can behave quite well in family settings.

“They are frequently friendly and very excellent with children and other pets, but they are going to need a significant bit of physical activity and training,” she says.

“They will need a fair bit of physical activity and training.” Therefore, before adding a Portuguese water dog to the family, you should ensure that you have sufficient time to devote to the responsibilities mentioned above.

Moore notes that the breed may sometimes be wary of new people but that after receiving the appropriate socialization, the dogs are more than glad to be petted by strangers.

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The intelligent Portuguese water dog, which is very similar in appearance to the PoodlePoodle, is prone to become disinterested very quickly if it is not kept busy.

They are high-energy dogs that must exercise for at least an hour daily. This is yet another reason why they would benefit tremendously from participating in competition training.

Your dog has a strong propensity to chew when bored or frustrated, so ensuring that they are fit and happy should be a top concern regardless of the method you choose to utilize to accomplish this goal.

You will find all your belongings chewed up if you leave your Portuguese water dog at home alone for an extended period or if you do not give him sufficient exercise. The four canines belonging to Delgado all participate in different activities, whether work or play.

Delgado runs with one of them, and her 3-year-old dog, Brinkley, enjoys waking Delgado up on the weekend mornings by fetching her slipper socks, climbing up on Delgado’s bed, and dangling the socks over her owner’s head to get her attention.

She explains that the dogs are working dogs. They are eager to work, and they are eager to fulfill your needs. Obedience training is going to be absolutely necessary for Portuguese water dogs, just as it is for any other breed of dog that is highly clever.

Not only will it assist in keeping them stimulated, but it will also help to restrict some of their less desirable habits, such as the breed’s penchant to greet people by jumping up or their legendary reputation as counter surfers.

Portuguese water dogs tend to do quite well in homes where there are also cats and other dogs. Because they have a low prey drive, they are an excellent option for households with other small animals.

They are enthusiastic about playing with children of all ages, but the youngest ones might find them a little too rowdy for their liking. Training Portuguese water dogs to be therapy or service dogs is another area in which they thrive.

Some of these pups become assistance dogs for deaf or hard-of-hearing people, as they easily pick up on cues such as how to bark when the doorbell rings or the phone rings.

Living Needs Of Portuguese Water Dog

The most important things to consider when choosing a home for a Portuguese water dog are mental and physical stimulation.

As long as you take them for daily walks or play fetch with them, they should be able to adjust very well to apartment living. If you own a home with a sizable backyard enclosed by fencing?

Even better. And if you have access to a local lake or swimming pool? Holy mackerel, it looks like they’ve made it to paradise. If you are considering entering your dog into a competition, you should be sure to have the dog examined by a veterinarian first.

Because the dogs have a relatively low prey drive, it is often safe to have them off a leash or in the front yard with supervision.

They are not likely to go off after a squirrel if they are in either of these environments. It is a good idea to give children a selection of toys since this will prevent them from becoming bored.

You can rapidly educate them on what they are allowed to chew on and what they are not allowed to chew on by providing them with a selection of toys to choose from and engaging in patience and positive reinforcement training.

History Of Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is descended from dogs that Portuguese fishermen have employed for years to force fish into nets, retrieve gear from the water, and swim messages from one boat to another.

It is likely that he is related to the Poodle, a breed of dog developed in Germany to become a water retriever.

The Portie, also known as the Cao de Agua (which literally translates to “dog of the water”), was a member of the fishing crew during voyages that ranged from those that took place off the coast of Portugal to those that took place in Newfoundland.

Vasco Bensuade, a wealthy dog enthusiast from Portugal, came to the rescue of a breed of hardworking fisher dogs who were in danger of extinction at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the increasing mechanization of fishing.

Porties started appearing at dog shows when its supporters established a breed club and created a breed standard describing how a breed should appear and behave. They arrived in England and the United States a few decades after making their way across the Atlantic.

In 1972, even though there were only 12 known Portuguese Water Dogs in the United States, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was established.

After only ten years, their population had grown to 650, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) decided to accept the dogs to its Miscellaneous Class.

This class serves as a holding area for breeds that are still awaiting official recognition. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first acknowledged the Portie as a separate breed in 1983.

Among the 155 breeds and varieties that are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Portuguese Water Dog is now ranked 69th in popularity.

Size Of Portuguese Water Dog

Male Portuguese Water Dogs have a shoulder height of 20 to 23 inches and can weigh anywhere from 42 to 60 pounds. Women often have a height range of 17 to 21 inches and a weight range of 35 to 50 pounds.

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Personality Of Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog possesses many admirable traits, including the traits of being tireless, fun-loving and having an excellent sense of humor.

If you don’t remain one step ahead of him, he’ll be able to outthink you thanks to his impressive intelligence. Because he acts like a clown to grab your attention, you might find yourself laughing rather regularly.

A wide variety of personalities may be found in Portuguese Water Dogs. Most people are in the middle, with some having strong wills and others having a more laid-back attitude.

Early socialization, or the process of exposing a young dog to a wide variety of people, places, things to see and hear, and activities, is essential for the development of all dogs, including Portuguese Water Dogs.

You can ensure that your Portie puppy will mature into a well-adjusted and balanced dog through proper socialization.

Health Of Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dogs enjoy good health; nevertheless, similar to other breeds; they are predisposed to several diseases.

Although not all Porties will contract any or all of these ailments, you must be aware of them if you are considering getting a Portie.

  • Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a disorder in which the thighbone does not fit securely into the hip joint and can be passed down through families.

You might not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia, even though some dogs experience pain and lameness in one or both of their hind legs. It’s possible that arthritis will develop as the dog gets older.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program are the organizations that perform X-ray screening for hip dysplasia (PennHIP).

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition, but it can be made worse by environmental factors like rapid growth caused by a diet high in calories or injuries sustained from jumping or falling on slippery floors.

  • Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy

An inherited condition called Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy is responsible for the unexpected demise of young dogs and puppies between the ages of five weeks and seven months.

There is now no treatment available, and there is no way to predict whether a puppy will be infected with the disease. Breeders can only avoid generating afflicted puppies by avoiding breeding carriers of the gene. This is the only method available to them.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, also known as PRA, is a degenerative eye disorder that leads to blindness due to the loss of photoreceptors in the retina, which is located at the back of the eye.

PRA can be diagnosed years in advance of the dog exhibiting any symptoms of blindness. A dog’s ability to use its other senses to compensate for its vision loss is one of the many reasons why a blind dog can lead a healthy and happy life.

Simply put, you shouldn’t make shuffling the furniture a regular part of your routine. Reputable dog breeders have annual eye exams performed on their canine companions by veterinary ophthalmologists and refrain from breeding animals infected with this condition.

  • Storage Disease (GM1)

Storage disease, also known as GM1, is a genetic condition inherited in a recessive manner and caused by a deficiency in an enzyme that enables the accumulation of harmful chemicals in nerve cells.

It is lethal for puppies born to two carriers of the disease. To establish whether a dog is normal or a carrier of a disease, a DNA test has been devised. Because of this, the number of puppies who are both carriers and affected has dropped significantly.

If you want to buy a puppy, you should look for a reputable breeder who can provide you with health clearances for both of the dog’s parents. Clearances from the veterinarian demonstrate that a dog has been examined for and found to be free of a certain disease.

When it comes to Portuguese Water Dogs, you should be on the lookout for health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hips, from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that the eyes are normal, an Optigen rating for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and a DNA test for GM1 gene mutations (storage disease).

Health clearances are not given to dogs younger than two years old because some health problems only appear once a dog reaches full maturity.

This is because some health problems don’t appear until a dog reaches full maturity. Try to find a breeder who waits until her dogs are at least two or three years old before breeding them.

Care Of Portugues Water Dog

Porties are people-oriented creatures, so it makes sense for them to make their home indoors rather than in the great outdoors.

In a perfect world, kids will have a fenced yard where they can play securely; nevertheless, if they get enough exercise, they can adjust to life in an apartment.

Daily activity for a Portie should consist of long walks, running, swimming, or games of fetch lasting between thirty minutes and one hour.

If he gets enough exercise, he is a calm and quiet companion when we are indoors. If you do not have it, you risk coming home to find your valuables gnawed to pieces.

Use positive reinforcement methods to train your Portuguese Water Dog, such as verbal praise, physical play, and the provision of treats as incentives.

Steer clear of continuous repetition, or he will become disinterested. This dog picks up new talents fast and takes pride in expanding his repertoire.

Training your Portuguese Water Dog in obedience, agility, tracking, or water work is an excellent method to stimulate and provide him with the activity he appreciates mentally.

Other activities include: In addition to that, he would be an excellent therapy dog. Even if you don’t teach him anything else, you can at least teach him some tricks to impress the neighbors.

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You and your Portie will develop a unique bond if you train together. If you give him something to do, he will be overjoyed. Keep in mind that the Portuguese Water Dog enjoys chewing on things.

Offer him a wide variety of toys to gnaw on, switch them up frequently to prevent him from becoming bored, and begin instructing him on appropriate and inappropriate chewing behaviors at an early age.

Feeding The Portugues Water Dog

The recommended daily amount for a healthy dog is 2.5 to 3.5 cups of high-quality dog food, which should be given in two separate meals.

The amount of food an adult dog needs to consume is determined by several factors, including age, size, build metabolism, and level of activity.

Because each dog is an individual, just like each person, their dietary requirements will all be different. It should go without saying that a dog with a high activity level will require more than a dog whose primary activity is lounging around the house.

The quality of the dog food that you purchase is another factor that plays a role. The higher the quality of the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing it, and the less you will need to shake into the bowl it eats from.

If you want your Portuguese Water Dog to remain in good form, you should measure his food and only feed him twice per day rather than leave food out for him all the time.

You should give him the eye exam and the hands-on test if you are unsure whether he is overweight. First, look at him from a lower level. A waistline ought to be discernible to the viewer.

Then position your hands so that they are on his back, with your thumbs running along his spine and your fingers spreading outward.

Without exerting too much force, you should be able to feel his ribs but not be able to see them. If you can’t help him, he needs fewer calories and more activity.

See our recommendations for buying the appropriate food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog for additional information on how to feed your Portie.

Coat Color And Grooming

Curly and wavy coats are both acceptable styles for the Portuguese Water Dog. Both varieties have a single coat, meaning they do not have an undercoat.

Because of this, the Portie does not shed nearly as much as other breeds, which is why many people consider him hypoallergenic. (Even though all dogs lose hair and dander to a certain extent, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog.)

The Portie’s coat can be black, white, or a variety of hues of brown; it can also be black or brown with white or black or brown with white.

It is common practice to use either a lion clip or a retriever clip while styling the Portie. In the lion clip, the head, middle of the body, and back end are brief, and there is a tuft at the very tip of the tail.

The coat is clipped or trimmed to a length of around one inch to get the retriever clip. This is done while following the outline of the body.

To prevent the coat from becoming tangled, brush or comb your Portie at least twice or thrice every week. The coat should be trimmed or clipped once a month to keep it appearing nice.

It is essential to give a thorough rinsing with fresh water after swimming to any dog that spends a lot of time in the water.

This is done to eliminate chemicals, salt, and other elements that can cause problems with the coat or skin of the dog. You should also clean and completely dry your ears to avoid getting an infection.

Nails should be trimmed once or twice every month. It is a sign that they are excessively lengthy if you hear them clicking on the floor.

Maintaining the feet in good condition by keeping the nails short and neatly trimmed protects your shins from getting scratched when your Portie enthusiastically jumps up to greet you and keeps the feet in good condition.

In addition to this, proper dental hygiene is essential. You should give your Portie’s teeth a good brushing at least twice or three times a week to maintain fresh breath, avoid tartar accumulation, and protect against periodontal disease.

Even better is brushing your teeth once each day. When your Portie is still a puppy, you should start grooming him so that he becomes accustomed to the process.

Handle his paws often, as dogs are sensitive about being handled near their feet, and examine the interior of his mouth and ears.

You can build the framework for smooth veterinary checkups and other handling when he’s an adult if you make grooming a good experience by giving him praise and prizes while he’s being groomed.

The Portugues Water Dog With Other Animals And Children

When raised with children from a young age, Portuguese Water Dogs develop into wonderful family members. However, young children frequently find them frightening or overpowering because of their wild nature.

Always be sure to teach young children how to approach and touch dogs safely, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting, ear or tail pulling, or other aggressive behavior from either party.

The socialization of a Portie ensures that it will get along well with other pets, including canines and felines. Keep a watch on your Porties if they are around smaller animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters, just as you would with any other breed of dog.


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