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Portuguese Water Dog

The water dogs of the Mediterranean countries probably provided the foundation of the breed as the Moors of North Africa, trading with Portugal, may well have brought dogs of this type to the Algarve region. Here is another versatile dog, perhaps the only one to be described as a herder of fish! Amongst his roles he was used for driving shoals of fish into the nets. He was also used as a messenger dog between boats at sea, as a retriever of lost nets. He is said to have acted also as a foghorn when his resonant bark would alert other boats to the whereabouts of his boat in thick fog and thus help avoid collisions. Modern technology in fishing vessels threatened the breed’s existence and in the 1950’s and 1960’s the population fell drastically. However, as one of the national breeds of Portugal, the Portuguese Water Dog was regenerated as a family companion, a role that he fulfils happily.

The Portuguese Water Dog is super-smart and very biddable, they are easy to train and eager to please. An athletic, active breed, the Portuguese Water Dog requires vigorous exercise every day to keep them healthy and happy – this can come in the form of long daily walks and play sessions with their owner. This extremely versatile breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine sports such as obedience, tracking, agility, rally, dock diving, and other activities that can be enjoyed by dog and owner. For many enthusiasts, the most special of all the training and exercise options for the ‘Portie’ is water work. The Portuguese Water Dog is one of exceptional intelligence and trainability, obeying any orders given by its owner with willingness and pleasure. It is obedient both to those who care for it and to those for whom it works. It has a spirited disposition, is brave and independent, and resistant to fatigue. ‘Porties’ are just happy dogs, they love kids, other dogs and many different animals. Portuguese Water Dogs are demanding of attention and human contact, and greets friends and family with unbridled enthusiasm. They are a great family pet, if you have ever met someone who is just happy to do whatever you are doing, then you have found your mate.

Read more about the history of this breed – HERE


Most of these stats are from the The Kennel Club UK. You can view stats from kennel clubs around the world at the links below, which may have different standards and classifications.

Group – UKWorking
Bred ForFisherman’s aid
Rare BreedNo
Country of OriginPortugal
TemperamentBrave, Tireless, Intelligent
Exercise NeededUp to 1 hour a day
Size of Home NeededLarge
Height at Withers – Females43 – 52 cm / 17 – 20½ in
Height at Withers – Males50 – 57 cm / 19½ – 22½ in
ColourBlack, Brown and White Variations
Life Span10 – 14 years
  • The traditional clip of the Portuguese Water Dog, the lion trim, with a mane of hair over the forequarters and clipped hindquarters, is said to aid his propulsion through water.
  • They have webbed feet, one of the reasons they’re such good swimmers!
  • Their coat is profuse, non-allergenic, non-shedding and waterproof.
  • The Portuguese Water dog has two varieties of coat. One is compact curls, and the other is wavy with a slight sheen.
  • The skilled swimmers helped the sailors of the Spanish armada by carrying messages between ships in the 1500’s.


Breed standard varies throughout the world, these links will inform you of those standards and give further information about Portuguese Water Dogs.


Click on any picture below to view it larger and in a slideshow, it’s worth it! 😃


Enjoy this video about Portuguese Water Dogs, you can view the entire playlist of videos about this breed on our YouTube Channel by clicking the button below:


Here’s some websites specifically dedicated to the Portuguese Water Dog breed. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, they’re just here for further information. Please note I will not advertise breeders on this site.

Thanks for reading!

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