The reputable breeder is interested in producing sound healthy dogs. He has devoted much time in determining which dogs to use to produce the best possible offspring. He is concerned with structure, size, pedigree and disposition – the latter important for continuance of desirable GOOD TEMPERAMENT! He endeavors to produce dogs nearest the accepted STANDARD OF THE BREED as defined by the National Club and approved by the American Kennel Club.

The Portuguese Water Dog as all other breeds does have some health problems that we, as breeders, are working to eradicate. These include:

Hip Dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia is a developmental defect that involves deformation of the hip joint, where a poor fit between the head of the femur and the acetabulum (hip socket) exists. Dogs used for breeding should have their hips x-rayed and certified clear of hip dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and have an OFA number issued.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a genetic disease in which the cells of the retina (back of the eye) gradually degenerate, leading to the loss of sight. In this breed the onset of blindness usually but not always occurs after the age of 5.

Dogs used for breeding should have their eyes examined by a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist and certified YEARLY by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) and have a CERF number issued.

This HAS BEEN DISCOVERED in our breed and every effort is being made to check pedigrees in order to breed away from this disease. Breeding dogs should also receive their Optigen testing. Optigen A rating is desired.

An eye disease either inherited or acquired which also can be detected with an exam by a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist.

Storage Disease (GM-1)
A recessive genetic disorder caused by the lack of an enzyme which allows a build up of toxic substances in the nerve cells. A test has been developed which determines the status of the puppy.

An affected puppy will die, a carrier will be normal in all aspects but usually will not be bred. Puppies are usually tested at 7-8 weeks unless both parents are litter(GM-1 N 95L or 99L) or ancestor (GM-1 N95A or N99A) tested normal.

This genetic defect causes the hair follicles of the adult dog to atrophy (follicular dysplasia) and the hair tends to fall out in a symmetrical pattern beginning over the back of the dog. Pedigree analysis may be helpful in predicting its occurrence.

Improper Coats
Occasionally puppies are born with improper coat patterning. The face, fronts of legs, and feet will have short, smooth hair with feathering on the back of the legs. Their appearance will be similar to a flat or curly coated retriever. These puppies are healthy and have all the other good characteristics of the PWD but the coat is considered incorrect for the conformation ring.

It is very common with this breed to be placed on a waiting list for a future breeding. Be careful of putting your name on more than 1 or 2 waiting lists. If you put a deposit on a puppy, make sure you understand if any portion or all of the deposit is refundable.

Most breeders sell their puppies and dogs with some type of written contract. Contracts can be very basic, little more that a bill of sale or more typically require you to spay or neuter your puppy. Usually, a contract for a show or breedable puppy will require you show the dog or even to give back 1 or 2 puppies from a future breeding.

Ask for a sample contract, so you may study the wording and terms carefully. NEVER sign a contract you do not understand or are not completely comfortable with.

Many breeders choose a puppy for the new owners rather than let the buyer choose from all the puppies in the litter. Breeders may ask you many questions about your lifestyle and needs in order to best match personalities and temperaments. Ask the breeder if your puppy will have been checked by a veterinarian, wormed for internal parasites, vaccinated, and if the litter has been registered with the AKC. The breeder should provide you with this information as well as the registered names and individual registration numbers of the sire (father) and the dam (mother), the date of the puppies birth, the name of the breeder, and the AKC litter registration number.

These guidelines were provided by the Portuguese Water Dog Club of Northern California. For additional information concerning the breed, please refer to the following sources:

The Courier – The Bi-Monthly Publication of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America
Contact: Terry Cardillino
E-mail Address:
Circulation Manager
99 Maple Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
(203) 661-9347

Book: The Complete Portuguese Water Dog
Kathryn Braund and Deyanne Miller
288 pages
Published by Howell Book House