What Are They Like?
The Portuguese Water dog is lesser known than others in the working group such as the Standard Poodle. That may be changing, as America's First family has adopted a six month old water dog. This dog comes in a curly or wavy coat that will be long and have a little shine to it. The Water dog's coat can come in black, brown or white. Also in brown or black with white mixed in. This dog has it's own grooming styles, the working retriever clip and the lion clip. Grooming is a matter of personal preference but generally does not require very frequent clippings. The water dogs hypo-allergenic coat grows at a slower rate than that of other like-coated breeds.
This breed matures to 35-55 pounds and reaches 16-22 inches. Ears and tails are left long and natural, as they are at birth. The feet are webbed and the tail acts like a rudder in the water. All this aids this water dog in his swimming. There is a physical resemblance to the Standard poodle but they are their own breed. In 1972 the Breed had nearly disappeared but lovers of the breed rallied together and brought this water dog's population back to normal.
The Portuguese water dog is a breed that enjoys working. Portuguese fishermen in the 1400's used this dog to carry messages from ship to ship. This breed was very helpful on those ships. The Portuguese could retrieve tackle, herd fish and even act as a foghorn during bad weather conditions. This dog , even today is very proud and pleased to be useful. The have a keen sense about a strangers intentions and is very watchful of it's family. The water dog will be loyal and attentive, though it may chose one person to whom it will attach itself. Children will be safe with this dog. They are very intelligent and highly trainable. The owners of this breed need to be calm and use the tones of their voice correctly, as this dog is very sensitive to the tones and will learn best by the correct tone. Owners must be firm but gentle. Spoiling a Portuguese water dog can be a mistake as they can tend to try to run things.
There is lots of spirit and personality in this pet, yet it is a calm dog. They are good watch dogs, good family dogs and are said to actually possess a sense of humor. Their Stamina level is high, so he can be taken along for a jog or run or spend time in the back yard with the children who are also full of energy. They love to be the center of attention so be sure to have plenty of time for this fellow. A Portuguese water dog when still a puppy is very bad for chewing on things and will need to be taught what they are and are not allowed to chew on. This breed needs plenty of daily exercise that can include water play as they do love the water and retrieving things.
The health of these companions is fairly good, being prone to hip dysplasia and a fatal nerve disorder called GM-1 Storage Disease that appears at six months of age. A puppy should be tested for GM-1 as well as breeding animals. Otherwise, in a healthy Portuguese water dog, life expectancy is 10-14 years. They can make truly wonderful and loyal companions.