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Portuguese Water Dog
Characteristics, History, and Health

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog, or Cão de Água Português in Portuguese, is a working breed that was bred for a life along the coast of Portugal. The breed has a rich history dating back to over 700 years. It was initially developed to work with fishermen along the coast of Portugal, herding fish into nets, retrieving lost tackle, and carrying messages between ships or to the shore. Their exceptional swimming abilities and strength made them valuable assets to Portuguese fishermen. By the mid-20th century, the breed was nearing extinction due to the modernization of fishing practices. However, a wealthy Portuguese businessman named Vasco Bensaude had a strong interest in the breed and is credited with its survival. He bred Portuguese Water Dogs and sought to standardize their appearance, laying the foundation for the modern breed.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Algarvian Water Dog, Portuguese Fishing Dog, Cão de Água Português, Portie, PWD
Life Expectancy
11-13 years
Average Male Height
20-23 inches
Average Female Height
17-21 inches
Average Male Weight
42-60 pounds
Average Female Weight
35-50 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Wavy, Curly
Coat Colors
Black, Brown, White
Coat Pattern
White Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Portuguese Water Dogs can suffer from juvenile cardiomyopathy, GM1 (gangliosidosis) storage disease, distichiasis, Addison's Disease, hip dysplasia, chondrodystrophy (with or without chondrodysplasia), alopecia, and progressive retinal atrophy. They may also suffer from seizures and irritable bowel syndrome.

Personality and Behavior

Portuguese Water Dogs are known for their intelligence, energy, and affinity for water. They are highly trainable and do well in various dog sports like obedience, agility, and water trials. They are also great companions, being affectionate with their families and generally good with children and other pets.

Their high energy levels and intelligence mean they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and potentially destructive. They are not a breed for sedentary owners; they need plenty of exercises and enjoy being active participants in their human families' lives.

Fun Facts

Portuguese Water Dogs have webbed feet, which aid in their powerful swimming.

They have a unique non-shedding coat, which makes them popular among people with allergies.

One of the most famous Portuguese Water Dogs is Bo, who was the First Dog of the United States during Barack Obama's presidency.