About PWD

An Old Portuguese Water Dog Story

An old Portuguese Water Dog starts chasing rabbits and before long discovers that he's lost. Wandering about he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old PWD thinks, "Oh, oh!  I'm in deep doo-doo now!

Noticing some bones on the ground close by he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.  Just as the panther is about to leap the old PWD exclaims loudly, "Boy that was one delicious panther!  I wonder if there are any more around here?' 

Hearing this,  the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!says the panther, "That was close!  That old PWD nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther.  So, off he goes.  The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.

The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old Portie sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?"  But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet.  Just when they get close enough to hear, the old PWD says...."Where's that squirrel?  I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!"

Moral of this story...

   Don't mess with the the old dogs...Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery!

   BS and brilliance only come with age and experience.

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down happy.  They told me I didn't understand the assignment.  I told them they didn't understand life." - John Lennon

About Portuguese Water Dogs

While the PWD looks like a fluff ball, it truly is a working dog. An ancient breed, it was bred to work off the fishing boats in Portugual. It is a very strong swimmer, with a strong work drive. It was used to take out fishing nets, courier messages between boats, herd fish, move buoys in the water, amongst other tasks. It even guarded the boat against seals who were trying to steal fish from the boats.

Is this breed intelligent?

Yes, generally, the breed is very intelligent.

Is the breed active?

Yes, generally the breed is very active. Indeed, if your PWD is not active, I would suggest that in may well need a health check up (make sure thyroid is checked).

How would you describe their personality?

The PWD will be your best friend, your loyal companion, your soul mate. She will be your guardian. She will love your socks off.

However, this will not happen unless you treat her as such.

Temperament is a very important issue.

Do they have health issues?

All breeds of dogs, and cross breeds have health issues. The PWD is absolutely no different. The PWD does not have as many health issues as many of the more popular breeds, but we must still be particular vigilant. Be careful of: hip dysplasia, Addisons, Storage, and PRA.

Many dog breeders believe that most health issues can be minimized through a proper diet.

Are they good with children?

I prefer to ask, "are your children good with dogs?"

PWD's are like ALL other breeds - they should be introduced to children as puppies, and this contact should continue throughout their life.

All of my dogs are great with children. But, this is because I have raised my children to respect, care, and love the dogs. In turn, my dogs know that what is expected of their behavior around children, although at times, they don't realize their own clumsiness!

Indeed, I know if one of my dogs ever growls at a child, it is because the child has extremely provoked them and is issuing a warning. This warning serves as a reminder to me, to do something to fix the child's behavior.

My dogs know that they are lower in the pack than the children, but at the same time, my dogs also know that it is unfair for children to hurt them.

I recommend that dogs around children should always be supervised and vice verse.

Will I have problems with them chewing?

Most probably yes - particularly with puppies. However, there's nothing like a puppy to teach humans to put their belongings away. If a puppy chews a shoe, than it is the fault of the owner of that shoe for not putting it in the cupboard. My dogs do not "get into trouble" for indiscriminate chewing - but the human that left out that particular "treat" for them does.

I find that as they get older, there are less issues with chewing.

Do puppies bite?

Like puppies of any breed, PWD puppies will use their teeth, like the rest of their bodies, to explore the world and all it offers. PWD puppies (like all other puppies!) must never ever be encouraged or played with to bite. Children need to be taught not to encourage the puppy to bite, and what to do if the puppy does bite. Puppies are really like babies - they need to learn in a positive environment with patience, and good humor. Puppies, like children, do need to learn manners.

What training method do you use?

I use positive training methods. The main training method I use is called "clicker training". You can start training your puppy with this method when it is very young. I introduce the clicker to puppies at 5 weeks of age. At most, I will only train a dog for 5 minutes at a time - perhaps three times a day. I do use Jan Fennell's techniques when raising my pups

I've found this the absolute best way to get maximum results in the most positive and rewarding way.

​​​​​​​How much grooming is involved?

If I keep the coat relatively short, then there is hardly any grooming involved at all.

However, I keep my dogs in a long coat for showing, so I need to groom a couple of times a week for about 10 minutes each dog. I find the length of time spent grooming is dependent on - what the dogs are eating, what sort of brush is being used, and how many burrs they are getting.

Jane Anderson
Bluegrace Portuguese Water Dogs

  Country of Origin: The Portuguese Water Dog (also known as the ‘Cao de Agua Portuguese’, commonly called the ‘Portie’, ‘PWD’, or ‘Water Dog’) shares its early ancestry with the Poodle. It descends from Asian herding breeds brought to Portugal either with the Goths in the fifth century or the Berbers in the eighth century. In Portugal, it was adapted for all manner of water activities, such as herding fish into nets, retrieving lost fishing equipment, and delivering messages to ship or to shore. The Portuguese Water Dog declined in numbers as fishing methods modernized, but in the 1930’s wealthy shipping magnate Dr. Vasco Bensuade helped to standardize and promote it. Dr. Bensuade became captivated by the breed after witnessing a Portuguese Water Dog named Leao dive through icy waters on command. The Portuguese Water Dog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1984.

Size: The Portuguese Water Dog has a shoulder height of 43-57 cm (17-22 in) and weighs 16-27 kg (35-60 lbs). Portuguese Water Dogs have a large head with pronounced stop (depression where the muzzle meets the forehead), small eyes, and heart-shaped ears. They have feathered tails which curl vertically toward the back and webbed feet which are useful for swimming.

Coat: The Portuguese Water Dog has a curly coat of dense, cylindrical curls, or a gentle, wavy coat with a minor sheen.  The most common colors are black, brown, white, black and white, or brown and white. Particolor white and black coats are increasing in popularity. The curly-coated Portuguese Water Dog is usually clipped only at the tail, in much the same manner as a working retriever. The wavy-coated Portuguese Water Dog is usually clipped in a ‘lion cut’ at the hindquarters and muzzle, with the rest of the coat allowed to grow to full length. Dark colored Portuguese Water Dogs have an interesting blue-tinted skin; light colored Portuguese Water Dogs have pink skin which is more susceptible to sunburns. The Portuguese Water Dog does not shed; its hair falls out in a fashion similar to human hair. It is a good fit for those with allergies.

Character: The Portuguese Water Dog is obedient, sociable, high-spirited, and friendly. It is highly attached to its owner; most bond closely with one person. Portuguese Water Dogs do not bark incessantly, but have an interesting range of voices including a loud breathy ‘laugh’ employed at greetings and during playtime.

Temperament: The Portuguese Water Dog enjoys the companionship of dogs, pets and children. It makes a good watchdog. Some Portuguese Water Dogs may chew; chew toys are recommended. They have a tendency to snoop around on counters and in prohibited areas.

Care: The Portuguese Water Dog requires grooming with a brush and comb every few days and trimming every two months. Portuguese Water Dogs have a lifespan of 10-14 years. They are susceptible to hip dysplasia (malformed hip joint which can cause lameness or arthritis), and eye problems such as cataracts and PRA.

Training: The Portuguese Water Dog’s intelligence and fondness for hard work makes training a fairly simple matter. Portuguese Water Dogs are quick to understand instructions.

Activity: The Portuguese Water Dog requires daily mental and physical stimulation. This breed loves to swim and has a great time retrieving sticks or balls from water. It is thoroughly happy competing in agility skills trials or other dog sports. Portuguese Water Dogs are best suited to active people.

Portuguese Water Dogs are happiest when they have a job, kind of like Duke our little Grandson.  Thankfully today's dog sports, competitions, and activities can provide your working dogs with outlets for their remarkable drive.  The PWD's medium size, temperament and working drive enable them to excel in a variety of activities.  The capable minds and agile bodies of these ancient swimmers readily take on different tasks, but training a PWD is not without challenges.  Gifted with an innate sense of humor, PWDs will often interpret tasks in their own unique ways!

PWDs compete for titles and certifications in:

  • Agility - In these canine obstacle course competitions, dogs and their handlers work together to quickly and accurately navigate different obstacles.
  • Conformation - At dog shows, dogs are exhibited to judges who measure their quality against the standard for their breed. Dogs who "conform" most closely to these standards earns points towards an American Kennel Club championship.
  • Obedience - Obedience trials test dogs' abilities to perform specific behaviors as directed by their handlers.
  • Rally - At Rally trials, dogs and handlers walk through courses, made up of 20 or more stations, demonstrating their abilities to perform obedience exercises as directed by their handlers.
  • Therapy - Therapy dogs visit people in a variety of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, special education classes, and schools, to bring comfort and stimulation to people who benefit from the healing power of dogs.
  • Tracking - Tracking dogs earn titles at competitions when they demonstrate that they are able to follow a scent course to locate a lost object or person.
  • Water Work - Uniquely available to PWDs, water work competitions test a dog's ability to perform the tasks they were originally bred to do for the Portuguese fisherman including retrieving items, relaying messages from boat to boat, and diving for items underwater.
  • Other - PWDs also train and compete in other areas like herding, draft, freestyle, flyball, hunting and carting.  A few very special PWDs are FEMA certified in Search and Rescue - one very special breed representative worked the World Trade Center site after 9/11 and performed rescue missions after Hurricane Katrina.  Other PWDs are trained service dogs and a few work as "seizure alert" dogs.

With proper training and an enthusiastic owner or handler, the PWD has virtually unlimited potential to showcase its talents and abilities. 


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