Portuguese Water Dog

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    History & Overview

    The Portuguese Water Dog, also known as the “Cao de Agua” (pronounced as “Kown-d’ahgwa”), is a powerful, medium-to-large sized dog known for his versatility in the water. He is a phenomenal ocean diver and is capable of swimming long distances in rough seas and cold water.

    These remarkably intelligent fellows were important crew members on Portuguese fishing boats where they served as messengers, guards, helpers and shark alerts. They can be trained to retrieve lost fishing nets and swim with them to the shore. As the fishing industry declined, the PWDs came on the verge of extinction. The breed was revived in the 1930s and was brought to England and USA in the 1950s.


    The Iberian beauty’s whole body is profusely covered with a water-resistant, non-shedding coat. There are two varieties of coat: long wavy hair and short curly hair. In the first variety, the long hair is soft; in the second the shorter hair is dense and forms cylindrical curls. The Portuguese Water Dog’s coat is clipped in a style which is traditionally thought to keep their heart, lungs and joints warm while they swim and to increase their mobility in the water (“lion clip”).

    At A Glance

    Other Names:

    Cão de Agua Português

    Country of Origin:



    Retriever, guard dog, swimmer and diver


    FCI Classification: Group 8 – Retrievers, Flushing Dogs and Water Dogs. Section 3 – Water Dogs. Without working trial
    AKC Classification: Working Group


    Medium/ Large (19 – 23 inches at shoulders)


    Black, white or brown in various shades of brown. Black or brown can also have white markings which should not exceed 30%. Nose, mouth and eyelids should be black. In dogs with black, white, or black and white coats the skin is slightly bluish.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    12 years, but 14 – 16 years is not uncommon

    Grooming Requirements:

    The middle part and hindquarters of the single non-shedding coat, as well as the muzzle and the tail, are clipped. At the end of the tail, the hair is left at full length in the shape of a plume.




    Portuguese Water Dogs are intelligent, fun-loving, sporty and very loyal

    Social skills:

    Portuguese Water Dogs are generally good with other animals.

    Suitability for Children:

    They are exceptional with children when raised with them.

    Exercise Needs:

    Portuguese Water Dogs need daily exercise and regular opportunities to swim.

    Train Ability:

    They are very quick to learn but are strong-willed. With consistent training, you can mold your PWD into whatever you want.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    The Portuguese Water Dog breed is one of the healthiest canines in the world. Responsible breeders will screen their dogs for:

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel


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