The Portuguese Water Dog has been around for a long time without question, although whether it was always recognizable as the breed of today is less clear. There is documented evidence of the breed being around in the 12th century, or at least of a dog which closely resembled the modern PWD, accompanying a monk of that time. One can read about the documented ancestry of the breed in the published books.
The Portuguese Water Dog has very keenly developed senses. His sense of smell, acute hearing and keen eyesight are suggestive of hunting breeds. His intense loyalty and sensitivity to the atmosphere around, not forgetting a loud and fairly deep bark, which made him useful as a guard on the fisherman’s boat could have stemmed from a guarding breed, although any tendency to fight or to attack is extremely uncharacteristic of the breed.
The PWD is tireless and although keen to learn even to the point of enjoying the odd circus trick, he does have a very definite streak of obstinacy. He quite definitely prefers company although shows an ability to remain silent and patient which is not a common trait in a canine.
Extremely robust, he will weather the cold and heat and his waterproof coat will shrug off water, snow and dirt. Here we have an All Rounder who has a definite passion for water, diving to the bottom of the pond, or thrusting himself through the waves to retrieve an item. He will make a beeline for water and becomes a different person once there.
The PWD has only suffered from the reported genetic diseases in the more recent years, diseases that would have been naturally selected out in the past, or bred out selectively if necessary, and he lives in the main to a ripe old age.
Interestingly, all the dogs I have owned have an extremely slow heart rate, even when in what could be claimed as a stressful situation. Rarely suffering from stomach upsets, except when fed too rich a diet, and needing fish oil to keep him in excellent condition, this dog seems to have the ability to scavenge fairly non selectively with little ill effect, except to the sensibilities of his owner.
It has been said that you’re never alone with a Portuguese Water Dog and it is true that they are very inquisitive. In fact whatever you’re doing they will usually try to ‘help’ you. They can be demanding as a breed and at times exasperating and will benefit from a reasonable amount of exercise and activities to exercise the mind. The PWD is the eternal optimist of the dog world and always ready to join in activities and especially games. He mixes well with other breeds of dog and has a seemingly endless supply of energy. But he can be willful and determined, traits that need to be controlled from a young age as without firm direction he may become a hooligan.
He is well suited to canine activities such as agility and working trials and although quite capable of obedience exercises to a good standard he is likely to find this work at the higher levels a little stifling for his exuberant nature. He really prefers more physical activities which allow him the freedom to express his personality.
Then there’s the coat, as you can see from the photographs, this is a dog with a fair amount of coat to look after. It’s not a difficult coat to care for, but does need about one hour a week of grooming to keep it in good order. If you can’t face the thought of looking after a long coat you can always keep him trimmed short all over, but if you can’t do this yourself you will have to pay a groomer to do it for you, and depending on which part of the country you live in, this can cost from $65 – $75 a visit, multiplied by at least 4 visits to the salon a year.
PWD’s also eat a fair amount for a dog of their size and these ongoing costs need to be taken into consideration when making a decision about whether this is the right breed for you.
On a sad note, someone did sell president Obama a Portuguese Waterdog….He did not get it out of a shelter…..