More About the Breed

A strong swimmer and diver, the Portuguese Water Dog was numerous all along Portugal’s coast, where it worked with fishermen to get the fish into the nets, retrieving gear from the water and carrying messages from boat to boat or boat to shore.  It is known in Portugal as the Cao de Aqua or “dog of water.”  There is strong evidence that the Portuguese Water Dog is related to the Poodle and Irish Water Spaniel. The breed was utilized in Portugal for several centuries but in the early 1900s when fishermen vanished from the coastline, the breed quickly declined in numbers.  In the 1930s, a wealthy Portuguese shipping magnate and dog fancier took it upon himself to save the breed.  The breed club was reorganized, a standard written and the breed was classified by the kennel club of that country.  In time, the breed was exported to other countries and first made it appearance in rare-bred shows in the U.S. in the early 1970s.


Exceptionally intelligent and a loyal companion, the Portuguese Water Dog immediately impressed North Americans with its willingness to turn in stellar performances in obedience trials.  The breed possesses a spirited disposition and is both brave and self-willed.  It has limitless stamina.

Activity level:

Robust and tireless, the Portuguese Water Dog is ready to do a full day’s work in or out of the water.  Always alert, this ruggedly built dog is an ideal choice for the water sports enthusiast.

Height/ Weight:

The ideal height is 22 in (56 cm) at the withers for males and 19 in (48cm) for females.  Look for males to tip the scales at 42-60 lbs (19-27 kg), while females will weigh in from 35-50 (16-22.5 kg).


The colours are black, white, and various shades of brown.  It may also be combinations of black or brown with white.  Grooming hint:  For showing, the CKC standard stipulates that the breed be shown in the traditional ‘lion clip’ with the face and hindquarters shaved and the remainder left long.  Most companion dogs are kept in the ‘retriever’ or ‘working’ clip with a short blanket of hair covering the whole dog.  The working clip is also acceptable for showing in the U.S.



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