Portuguese Water Dog

Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club

The Portuguese Water Dog is an intelligent, loyal, and charismatic breed. They love the water just as much as they love being with the family.

Fun Fact

Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, was the White House family pet for the Obamas during Barack Obama’s presidency.

  • About the Portuguese Water Dog

    Portuguese Water Dogs are native to the coastal regions of Portugal. When the Portuguese needed a versatile dog that loved to swim, they set to work developing the breed.

    They came into existence a long time ago—the first written record of them dates back to the 1200s. It is very likely that they are the descendants of the German Poodle, which was introduced to Portugal by the Goths many years before. While Poodles are excellent swimmers, the Portuguese wanted a dog that was smaller, yet more robustly built—one that easily could fit onto their ships as they sailed the shores of the Atlantic.

    They were saved from extinction during World War II by breed enthusiasts, and they eventually made their way to the United States in the 1950s. By the 1970s, the first breed club had been established, and they have enjoyed popularity in the United States ever since.

    Portuguese Water Dogs still look a bit like Poodles. They have the same curly, tightly wound hair. They have a few extras, however, like webbed toes! They make excellent family dogs and are loving with children. They also like other dogs—overall they are just affable companions. They have a tendency to bond with one person in the household. This tendency might stem from their history of riding in small fishing boats with only their masters for long periods of time.

    Portuguese Water Dogs are extremely intelligent and will really thrive if trained properly and given plenty of jobs to do. They love dog sports, especially ones that involve water, and they really relish their exercise and time outdoors. That being said, Portuguese Water Dogs can make very good apartment and city dogs provided they are given enough time outside to exercise. If they are confined in the house all day without anything to entertain them, they may become destructive. Also unpleasant coping behaviors, such as chewing and digging, may result. Because of this, they do best with active families.

    Portuguese Water Dogs make exceptional family pets and will surely make wonderful additions to the right households. Prospective owners won’t have too hard of a time finding them either—they are pretty popular in the United States, and there are many reputable breeders available.
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