What Does a Portuguese Water Dog Look Like?

Portuguese Water Dogs have certain breed characteristics, also called breed type, which makes them easy to identify. Once you know what a Portuguese Water Dog looks like, you'll always recognize them when you see one.

The Portuguese Water Dog, or PWD, is a sturdy, medium-sized dog, slightly longer than he is tall. The PWD will have a black, dark brown coat, which may or may not be splashed with white. (Less common is a Portuguese Water Dog that has a solid white coat, but it happens.) The hair is either tightly curled or wavy, with no undercoat. Males are between 20 and 23 inches tall at the shoulder, and females are 17 to 21 inches tall. Ideally, males weigh between 42 and 60 pounds, and females weigh between 35 and 50 pounds. Both sexes have large, broad heads with wide muzzles, strong jaws, and ears that lie close to the head. Its eyes are black or brown.

A PWD should have broad, deep chest and a muscular back, with a tail that is thick at the base then tapers to the end and is held high. Legs are sturdy and straight and the feet are round. Those round feet are webbed to help the Portuguese Water Dog swim.

Most people groom their Portuguese Water Dogs with one of two hairstyles, called clips. In the lion clip, the dog's hair is shaved off the hindquarters, from the end of the rib cage back, and the muzzle is also shaved. The hair at the end of the tail is left long. In the retriever clip, the dog is clipped or shaved all over, leaving the coat about one inch long all over the body — with the exception of the hair at the end of the tail, which is left long.

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The breed characteristics of a Portuguese Water Dog don’t stop with the physical characteristics: Temperament is equally important. PWDs are very intelligent, loyal dogs. They can be head strong, but they are also happy to obey commands. These dogs have a lot of energy, and are very strong — so it’s a good idea to give them some kind of job so they can burn off that energy productively. The PWD makes a great partner in both obedience and agility.

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