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Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is an athletic working breed that requires plenty of exercise. They are obedient companions with a coat considered hypoallergenic.

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Physical Characteristics
  • Hardy and muscular
  • Coat: Can be wavy, or curly
  • Nonshedding, single-layered, hypoallergenic coat
  • Body slightly longer than it is tall
  • Webbing between toes aids in swimming
  • Height: 17-23 inches
  • Weight: 35-60 pounds
  • Average lifespan: 10-14 years
  • Spirited, affectionate, brave, obedient, highly intelligent, eager to please
  • Interaction with people: Good with children, loyal companion
  • Training: Easily trained
  • Protection: Good watchdog
Medical Conditions
  • Addison's Disease (hormone disorder)
  • Allergies
  • Congential cardiac disease (including Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy)
  • GM-1 Storage Disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Ophthalmic disorders (including progressive retinal atrophy, distichiasis, cataracts and microphthalmia)
While the listed ailments may be common in this breed, not all members of the breed suffer from these conditions. Responsible breeders screen for orthopedic and genetic diseases.
At Home
  • OK in apartments with enough exercise
  • Active dog with great stamina
  • Needs daily physical and mental exercise
  • Good jogging companions
  • Loves to swim
  • Nonshedder; coat is virtually hypoallergenic
  • Needs regular brushing and combing
  • May require professional clipping throughout the year
Other Facts
  • Popular in U.S. as a companion, show dog and therapy dog
  • The lion cut, where only the base of the tail, hindquarters and muzzle are shaved, keeps the dog's body warm in water while allowing movement of the back legs
  • Fishermen who didn't know how to swim could grab onto the long hair on the end of the tail, and the dog would pull them to safety
  • Popularity is growing
Breed History
  • Ancestors were from central Asia
  • Aided Portuguese fishermen in catching fish, delivering messages between ships, retrieving items that fell overboard, and guarding goods and boats in port
  • Changes in traditional fishing methods and new technologies brought the breed to near extinction by the 1930s
  • A wealthy Portuguese shipping magnate and dog fancier saved the breed
  • U.S. imported its first pair in 1958; officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1984
For more information about this breed and breeder referral contacts, please visit the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America For breed rescue opportunities, visit PWDCA Rescue
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