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The Portuguese Water Dog
Yes, Portuguese Water dogs are a wonderful breed, but not a
breed for everyone! They are high spirited (although there are
degrees of energy levels within the breed), independent and
demanding. They need a year of care, attention and training to
make them civilized and gentle - as do most dogs. Consider it
like having a new baby.
Their coat demands attention and grooming. You can learn to do
it yourself or have them professionally groomed every 4 to 6
weeks. That is the price you pay for a non-shedding dog - the coat
grows continuously and they need to be brushed a couple of
times a week - without fail!
If you cherish and care for your PWD it will reward you with life
affirming love and devotion - but you will need to have a good
sense of humour and to be very flexible. This is a breed that is
very intelligent but not always very obedient. As fishing dogs they
were expected to work independently, making decisions and
going ahead with their own work. This ability was highly prized by
the Portuguese fishermen. They are still “hardwired” to make
executive decisions and they often take direction only as the spirit
moves them. If you understand and admire this trait you will find
their behaviour amusing rather than infuriating. Frequently they
will not come when you call - at least until they are good and
ready! This is just one of the reasons why they must ALWAYS be
on leash when they are not in a safe or enclosed area. They will
frequently dash off to visit or explore and, as they have absolutely
no instinctive street skills, they will be hit by a car. Trust me - it
They are sweet, loving and funny. They will make you laugh
everyday and tear your hair at least once a week. They are
incredibly adaptable and will go anywhere and do anything as
long as you are there too.
This breed has two negative characteristics. The first is that they
hate to be alone. They MUST have human companionship and
will not tolerate being left alone out in the yard, tied up, ignored or
left by themselves every day. They are not a breed for a working
family. Certainly, you have to have a life, and they can be left alone
for a number of hours while you live it, but not all day every day!
The second is, as I mentioned before, they have no street smarts
and must be carefully protected.
They need some exercise every day but will adapt to what you are
able to give them. I have some pups who go for a 5 mile run with
their owners every day and others that take a 20 minute walk
abound the block. Certainly, more is better, but they will do
whatever you ask.
Like all dogs, they must not be left alone with small children and
must be carefully trained to have gentle mouths. They should be
crate trained and never allowed to dominate any human member
of the family.
A Portuguese Water Dog demands a major commitment in time,
energy and understanding. You will be hugely repaid for your
patience and love.
About the Portuguese Water Dog
photo by Jerry Schulman
photo by Jerry Schulman