BBS Breed Spotlight: Portuguese Water Dog

This week, Best Bully Sticks is highlighting a dog breed with a rich history and lovable nature. The Portuguese Water Dog, with its endless energy, gentle and loyal personality makes for a wonderful pet yet has demanding grooming needs. Read about this great breed and let us know what you think!

History & Background: As the name suggest, the Portuguese Water dog hails from Portugal where it served as a working dog in the ocean. This dog fetched broken nets, dove for fish, carried messages between boats and to shore and guarded the boats while their masters were away. First called the Cao de Agua, or “water dog”, the breed almost went extinct in the 20th century but was re-established by the work of a Portuguese shipping magnate starting in the 1930s.

This breed is still somewhat rare but has been rising in popularity recently for a few reasons. One of these reasons is the adoption of a Portuguese Water Dog by the First Family, the Obamas. Another reason has to do with the unique features of the PWD’s coat, which is seen as hypoallergenic because they do not shed.

Height: 17-23 inches

Weight: 30-60 lbs

Coat: This dog’s fur is very thick, plentiful and healthy. There is no undercoat, only uniform curly hair all over the PWD’s body and the coat doesn’t shed. There are two types of PWD coats: curly and wavy. The AKC defines curly hair as: “Compact, cylindrical curls, somewhat lusterless. The hair on the ears is sometimes wavy.” Wavy hair is a bit different. Again, the AKC: “Falling gently in waves, not curls, and with a slight sheen.”

Left un-groomed, the Portuguese Water Dog’s hair will keep growing indefinitely and can cause problems such as vision being blocked, and matting of hair, which in turn can cause skin irritation. This breed needs daily brushing and bi-monthly groomings and would not be a good dog for someone wanting a low-maintenance breed.

Color: Black, white and various browns are the most prominent even in combinations of colors. With the dogs that have white, black or white and black combined, the PWD has bluish colored skin.

Appearance: This breed has a sturdy, medium build and is an exceptional swimmer and diver. This comes from their history as helpers to sailors and fishermen.  Their heads are broad and the PWD’s tail has a thick base because it was used as a rudder while swimming.

Temperament: The Portuguese Water Dog is highly spirited and doesn’t tire easily. Being extremely intelligent, this breed is quick to obey and please their masters. The PWD needs lots of exercise to satisfy their energy levels.

Product Suggestions:  The PWD has a history of being a fishing dog, so Best Bully Sticks would suggest a snack to fit that past.  Stella and Chewy’s Carnivore Kisses come in an Alaskan Salmon variety that is 100% all-natural, freeze dried fish.  Because this dog is so comfortable in the water and needs lots of exercise, the Portuguese Water Dog would go ga-ga over the West Paw Hurley. This tossable, floatable toy is a long lasting, 100% recyclable ball and bone combination that will create hours upon hours of entertainment for this breed!

  Portuguese Water Dog Photo courtesy of: Jumping Dog Photography / Sean Cummings

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