For centuries, Portuguese Water Dogs worked on the small fishing boats off the coast of Portugal. Don’t think for a moment their working heritage has been extinguished over time with living the “good life” in the lap of the modern day owner.Tracing directly back to that heritage, to this day they remain a very intense breed. Never forget that these dogs are members of a group of dogs bred to do jobs for their masters, called the Working Group. The possess many common characteristics with fellow Working Group breeds.
PWDs require exercise, consistency, and a fair but firm hand in terms of discipline and setting boundaries.They have a great desire to please their owners and be a part of the family. Their sharp minds make them wonderful at many organized performance activates as well as an intuitive member of the household.As a non-shedding breed, they require frequent grooming and coat maintenance. This involves regular brushing and bathing to keep their coats clean and free of matts (tangles).Plan on getting them professionally groomed every 6-8 weeks for their lifetime.
Each AKC breed club maintains a detailed description of their breed. This description is called the breed standard. The standard is a recipe of sorts describing what makes a dog (for instance) a Portuguese Water Dog. In addition to physical characteristics, the standard describes the temperament of the breed.
Here is an excerpt from the AKC Standard describing the PWD’s size and basic characteristics:
General Appearance – Known for centuries along Portugal’s coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build that allowed for a full day’s work in and out of the water. The Portuguese Water Dog is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and to shore. He is a loyal companion and alert guard. This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well-proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness.
Expression – Steady, penetrating, and attentive.
Temperament – An animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue. A dog of exceptional intelligence and a loyal companion, it obeys its master with facility and apparent pleasure. It is obedient with those who look after it or with those for whom it works.
Size – Height at the withers–Males, 20 to 23 inches. The ideal is 22 inches. Females, 17 to 21 inches. The ideal is 19 inches. Weight–For males, 42 to 60 pounds; for females, 35 to 50 pounds.
Proportion–Off square; slightly longer than tall when measured from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks, and from withers to ground.
Substance–Strong, substantial bone; well developed, neither refined nor coarse, and a solidly built, muscular body.