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Adopt a Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


gundog, water dog

Area of origin:


Original function:

fishing aid

Average size of male:

Ht: 20-23, Wt: 42-60

Average size of female:

Ht: 17-21, Wt: 35-50

Other names:

cao de agua

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Portuguese Water Dog Dog Temperament

The gregarious Portuguese water dog is a fun-loving, family-loving, water-loving dog. He is good with children, and other dogs and pets. He is sensitive and responds well to direction. He is a good breed for an active person wanting an adventurous, affectionate, biddable partner.

Portuguese Water Dog Dog Care

This active breed needs daily physical and mental exercise, preferably involving swimming and retrieving. Otherwise, he needs a long walk or jog or a vigorous romp. He is happiest living close to his family. His coat needs combing every other day, plus monthly clipping or scissoring.

Portuguese Water Dog Dog Health

Major concerns: PRA, CHD
Minor concerns: glycogen storage disease, distichiasis
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: eye, hip
Life span: 10-14 years

Interested in the history of the Portuguese Water Dog dog breed?

The consummate working water dog, the Portuguese water dog probably shares some of his ancestry with the poodle. Their ancestors were herding dogs from the central Asian steppes, either brought to Portugal by way of the Visigoths in the fifth century or by way of the Berbers and then Moors in the eighth century. Once in Portugal, this breed distinguished himself through his affinity for water, eventually herding fish into nets, retrieving lost nets or equipment, and serving as a boat-to-boat or boat-to-shore courier. Later these dogs were part of trawler crews fishing the waters from Portugal to Iceland. The breed is known in his native land as cao de agua (pronounced kown-d'ahgwa), which means dog of water. He comes in a long-haired variety known as the cao de agua de pelo ondulado and a curly-coated variety known as the cao de agua de pelo encaradolado. With the demise of traditional fishing methods, the Portuguese fishermen and their dogs began to disappear from the coast in the early 20th century. The breed was saved largely through the attempts of one man, Vasco Bensuade, a wealthy shipping magnate. He promoted the breed, and through his efforts, the breed club was reorganized, a standard was written and the first dogs were exhibited in the show ring. After a brief appearance in England in the 1950s, the breed virtually died out there. Around this time, the first Portugese water dogs came to America, where they slowly gained a following. After the AKC officially recognized them in 1984, their popularity grew more rapidly; the breed is now proving himself as a family companion.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Portuguese Water Dog Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Portuguese Water Dogs ready for adoption:

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