Breed Group: Working Group
Shoulder Height: 17-22 in.
Weight: 35-60 lb.
Life Span: 10-14 years
Colors: Black, white, brown, silver, brindle
- Nobody is sure how the breed was developed, but it has a very ancient ancestry. Their role was to work alongside Portuguese fishermen – herding fish and retrieving lost nets.
- The breed was saved from extinction when a Portuguese shipping magnate enacted a breeding program in 1930.
- Thanks to their webbed feet, Portuguese Water Dogs are one of the best canine swimmers in the world. Members of the breed perform well in water trials – a series of exercises designed to test their ability in water.
With the breed making a strong comeback since the 1930s, the Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) is becoming a popular dog breed. They possess many fine qualities beyond their distinctive coat that make them an ideal breed for work and as a house pet.
They have a definite independent streak, taking great joy in doing their own thing and letting their owner know exactly what they think. Unlike other dogs that might take it a bit too far and replace independence with rambunctiousness, however, the PWD is quite calm and even-tempered. They enjoy being with humans and are perfectly content to keep their pet parent company. Their coat is also remarkably soft, which makes it pleasant for their humans to get close to them.
The PWD is intelligent and easily trainable. They get along well with other dogs and with children, so they are the ideal family pet. The PWD is also hypoallergenic, making them an even more appealing breed. Exercise is required to keep them happy; water activities are highly encouraged. You will not find a better boat dog in the world.
Grooming is dependent on how long you keep the coat. Most pet parents prefer to keep the coat long as per tradition, so you will find that regular grooming is necessary to avoid knotting.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a generally healthy breed, though a small gene pool does mean that they are quite susceptible to a number of genetic defects.
- Cataracts are quite common in the breed. They are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy, with a new type of PRA being seen in these dogs.
- Hip dysplasia is fairly common in the breed. Be sure to look at a puppy's pedigree to assess the potential risk of it affecting your pup.
- Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a rare disease which can be fatal to young pups, as it causes heart failure. It is very difficult to detect before it happens, but a DNA test has been developed to check breeding dogs before they are mated.
- President Barack Obama keeps two Portuguese Water Dogs in the White House, named Bo and Sunny. He is the first President to keep them while in office. Senator Ted Kennedy gifted Bo to the Obama family.
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