Their Portuguese name means “dog of water,” and boy, are they ever! Portuguese Water Dogs are some of the best swimmers around: they have webbed paws; thick, waterproof coats; and tails that they can use like rudders. “Porties,” as they're known to their fans, were bred to help fishermen off the coast of Portugal. These dogs fetched fishing nets, and even scared fish right into those nets. They also worked out on the open water, rescuing drowning seamen. The Spanish Armada even used this breed to carry messages from ship to ship.
Portuguese Water Dogs notably used to work for the San Francisco Giants. The team employed these dogs to retrieve balls hit out of the park and into the bay behind the stadium. But their American achievements aren't limited to water sports. Bo and Sunny, the Obama family's dogs, were our country's First Canines for President Barack Obama's two terms in the White House (and the first Portuguese Water Dogs to live at the White House, for that matter).
Originally from—you guessed it—Portugal, this medium-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 35-60 pounds and lives an average of 11-13 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
|Breed's original pastime||Rescue|
|Average lifespan||11-13 years|
|Date of origin||1800s|
|Original function||Fishing aid|
|Today's function||Water rescue|
|Average size of male||Height: 17-21 Weight: 35-50|
|Average size of female||Height: 17-21 Weight: 35-50|
|Other name||Cao de agua|
|Energy level||High energy|
|Playfullness||Not very playful|
|Affection level||Moderately affectionate|
|Friendliness toward other dogs||Friendly|
|Friendliness toward other pets||Friendly|
|Friendliness toward strangers||Friendly|
|Ease of training||Moderately easy to train|
|Protection ability||Very protective|
|Grooming needs||High maintenance|
|Cold tolerance||High tolerance|
|Heat tolerance||Low tolerance|
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A PORTUGUESE WATER DOG'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
You can tell this dog was bred for action: she's never lost that sense of adventure. This breed is strong, spirited, and reliable. But a Portuguese Water Dog is also affectionate and playful. These dogs are often great with kids and want to be around their chosen people as much as possible. Coming home to a Portuguese Water Dog is an unparalleled delight.
WHAT IS PORTUGUESE WATER DOG BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a very active breed. Whether jumping off the bow of a ship or chasing your kids around the backyard, the Portuguese Water Dog is a pup on the go. Plan for rigorous romps and regular walks or runs every day.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A PORTUGUESE WATER DOG?
The Portuguese Water Dog is a biddable breed. These dogs are extremely intelligent and are particularly adept at obedience training. It will also not surprise you to learn that this breed excels in competitive water trials.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO PORTUGUESE WATER DOGS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Portuguese Water Dogs shed seasonally, but they don't shed much — that's why this breed is recommended for allergy sufferers. Her profuse coat will need regular grooming, however. Plan for weekly brushing and frequent clipping.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO PORTUGUESE WATER DOGS HAVE?
As a breed, Portuguese Water Dogs are generally healthy. Some are prone to eye disease or hip dysplasia, as well as seizures or irritable bowel syndrome. Portuguese Water Dogs are also susceptible to adrenal gland disorders, heart disease, and alopecia.