You might know the Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) as the official mascot of the Obama White House administration. Here's an in-depth look at this unique, working breed.
The PWD originated in the Algarve region of Portugal but quickly dispersed along Portugal's coast, where it helped fishermen with all kinds of water-related tasks including herding fish into nets, retrieving tackle, and acting as water courier between ships and shore. The PWD didn't stay put for long. The breed eventually worked its way over to the Icelandic coast, where it helped cod fishermen with their catches.
Known as the Cao de Agua or the Portuguese Fishing Dog in its country of origin, the PWD came close to extinction in the early 20th century during a time of great unrest in Portugal. Shipping tycoon Dr. Vasco Bensuade, a dog fancier, made it his mission to save the breed. Enlisting the help of two veterinarians, Dr. Francisco Pinto Soares and Dr. Manuel Fernandes Marques, Bensuade developed a breeding program using fishermen's dogs. Bensuade's kennels effectively re-established the breed in Portugal.
The PWD made its way to America in the 1950s via cooperation between Portuguese breeders and American PWD enthusiasts. Today America's 51st most popular dog breed, it has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1983.
Portuguese Water Dogs have become popular in this country thanks to their intelligence, trainability, and lovingly effervescent personality, and the fact that it was the official dog of the Obama White House Administration certainly doesn't hurt.
The PWD is a high-energy, working dog that needs training, constant exercise, and stimulation to prevent boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior. He is friendly overall, but bonds strongly with his master, making him a wonderful companion dog for an owner or a family that understands what the breed requires.
If you're considering this water dog breed, it's important to understand any possible health issues. A Portie's ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often. The Portuguese Water Dog is prone to minor health problems such as GM1 storage disease, hip dysplasia (CHD), Addison's disease, alopecia, juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy, and major health issues like progressive retinal atrophy.
As far as grooming goes, Portuguese Water Dogs have a curly coat that comes in a number of colors with or without white markings. Black and brown are the most common colors. And don't forget about the lion clip as professional groomers say to always brush this water dog breed if he is given a bath!
Just don't forget that this high energy breed will have exercise needs as we mention in this story. He will need a long walk every day! You should contact the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America for additional details about dog health, coat types, and grooming needs.
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