Height: 17–23 inches
Weight: 35–60 pounds
Life expectancy: 10–14 years
Classified as a Working breed
Classified as a medium Dog breed
The Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) has a straight topline, a broad and domed head that’s slightly longer than its muzzle, and a muzzle with a straight and well-defined stop. They have round, dark eyes, and heart-shaped ears that are set high with a slight hang. The PWD is an energetic dog of medium size with webbed feet that aid in swimming.
The coat can be either curly or wavy. Colors include black, shades of brown and white, and the breed is noted for having a no-shed and hypoallergenic coat. The tail is thick at the base and tapers. When the dog is at attention, the tail curves into a ring.
The Portuguese water dog is an ancient breed, with the first written description of the breed appearing in an account written by a monk in 1297. Portuguese water dogs, often called “Porties,” are close relatives of another ancient breed, the poodle. It’s thought that modern Portuguese water dogs and poodles developed from the same genetic pool, with distinct historical paths separating the breeds in terms of personality, appearance, and temperament.
Portuguese water dogs became close companions of humans early on, thanks to their predisposition to life on the sea. They worked closely alongside Portuguese fishermen, swimming between boats and helping retrieve lost tackle and herd fish into nets. The “founding sire” of modern Portuguese water dogs was a canine named Leão, who was owned by a wealthy Portuguese businessman named Vasco Bensaude in the 1930s. It’s believed that more than half of all Portuguese water dogs’ lineages can be traced back to Leão.
Porties were popularized in the states in the early 1970s, and while they’re still known for their water-loving tendencies, the dogs are revered today mostly for their friendliness as pets and their show-worthy qualities.
Porties are high-energy working dogs that require regular exercise to stave off boredom. In addition to regular walks (and plenty of swims, if possible), Portuguese water dogs thrive in training-based activities such as agility, nosework, dock diving, therapy work, and obedience. Long daily walks, coupled with plenty of play time and brain-boosting activities, are required to keep Portuguese water dogs at their best both mentally and physically.
While the Portuguese Water Dog does not shed, this breed of dog still needs regular—and often extensive—grooming. Porties should be brushed two to three times a week and trimmed once a month to keep their fur from becoming tangled or matted. For Portuguese water dogs who spend a lot of times swimming, comprehensive care should be taken to ensure their skin, coat, and ears are properly cleaned to prevent infection or inflammation from salt or chemicals.
In terms of training, most Portuguese Water Dogs love to learn and adapt quickly to new skills through the use of positive reinforcement. Training Porties is a great way to build up their bond with their humans and can help mitigate behavioral problems caused by boredom. Because they’re such fast learners, Portuguese water dogs make exceptional therapy and service dogs and often excel at competitive canine sports.
Overall, these dogs are friendly and enjoy being close to their owners. They do have an independent streak, but with proper amounts of exercise and training, Porties are perfectly well-behaved dogs who strive to please.
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