The Portuguese Water Dog has its roots in sixteenth-century Portugal and is known there as Cao de Aqua, "dog of the water". As the name of the breed suggests, they are wonderful swimming dogs and were originally bred to assist fisherman. Portuguese Water Dogs were used to send messages between boats, retrieved fish and other items from the water, pull in the nets and, at the end of the day, were used to guard the boats. They occasionally were called upon to save fishermen who fell in the water.
PWD's are traditionally clipped in lion clip. Which is shaving the dog from their last rib back, to make the back legs free to swim and keeping the hair on the front of their body to keep the organs warm as they swim in the ocean. They also have slightly more webbing between their toes to assist in swimming. With a non shedding coat they are thought to be the orgin for the Poodle.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a loyal, affectionate, energetic, intelligent family companion and thrives on human attention. It thrives as a family member and gets on well with children and other pets. They have a unique sense of humor and never seem to stop putting a smile on your face. They are a great watchdog, as they are alert, protective, cautious and sensible with strangers. The PWD is not a dog that can be kenneled full time. They are a very people-orientated dog and require daily human interaction for their proper personality to develop. Also as they have no undercoat, they do not have the required natural insulation to survive in unheated kennels in the winter months.
They are an attractive looking dog, but remain a true working dog, tough, energetic and sometimes independent, not a dog for everybody. The PWD is a strong, robust, medium sized, agile dog with the stamina and endurance to do a full day's work. They should be of substantial bone and well muscled and their head is large with a broad top skull and muzzle.
The life expectancy of the average Portuguese Water Dog is 12 to 15 years.