Portuguese Water Dog

Other names/Nicknames:
  • Cao de Agua
  • Portuguese Fishing Dog
  • Diving Dog
  • Sea Dog
Country/Date of origin:
  • Portugal
  • 1400′s
  • Females:  17 to 21 inches (ideal is 19 inches)
  • Males:  20 to 23 inches (ideal is 22 inches)
  • Females:  35 to 50 pounds
  • Males:  42 to 60 pounds
  • Willingness to work is inbred, and making itself useful obviously gives the dog great pleasure.
  • Loyal and attentive to its chosen person.
  • Alert and watches strangers for any sign of bad intentions.

Fisherman along the Algarve coast of Portugal relied on a remarkable dog to help them in their difficult trade.  Their seafaring dogs carried messages between ships and ship-to-shore.  Indispensable crewmen, they retrieved lost tackle, herded fish into nets, grabbed those fish that leaped out, and in bad weather acted as living foghorns.  The Portuguese Water Dog is also a fine hunting retriever.  Needless to say, these dogs were closely guarded.  They were little known outside of Portugal until the 20th century, although the breed is more than seven hundred years old. They were not very well known in Portugal either. In 1972, it was thought that there were less than 25 purebred dogs left.  Fanciers around the world rallied and today the cheerful sea sprites have the popularity they deserve.  In 1981, the Portuguese was admitted to the Miscellaneous classes of the American Kennel Club (AKC).  In 1984, the numbers were high enough to allow a full membership in the Working Group.

Body Type:
  • Bears a resemblance to the large-size Poodle.
  • The medium-length, natural tail loops over the back when the dog is at attention.  It is not altered because it is used as a rudder when the dog is swimming.
  • The long ears hang close to the head and are not altered.
  • Feet are webbed to aid in swimming.
  • Two coats allowed: curly and wavy.  An undercoat is not present in either variety.
  • Wavy coats are fairly long with a slight sheen.
  • The hair in curly coats forms compact, cylindrical curls that are somewhat lusterless.
  • The hair on the ears has less curl than elsewhere on the body.
  • Permissible colors are solid black, white or brown; also accepted are combinations of black or brown with white.
  • Two grooming styles.  Lion clip where the face, middle and hindquarters are shaved.  The tail is also shaved at the base end, and a lion-like tassel is left at the tip end. This clip requires professional grooming.  The working-retriever clip has the hair scissored to one-inch in length following the outline of the body.  Hair on the end of the tail is left long to emulate a lion’s tassel.
Health and Wellness:
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Lysosomal storage disease.
  • Puppy eye syndrome.
  • Congenital renal disease.
  • Addison’s disease.
  • Follicular dysplasia.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy.
What you should know:
  • Pronounce it Kown-d -ahgwa (Cao de Agua) as the Portuguese do.  It means Dog of the Water or Sea Dog.
  • It is impossible to keep this dog out of water.  Some will even want to play in puddles.
  • Good choice as a family dog.
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