Despite the name, the Portuguese Water Dog might originally have come from North Africa.
They are a medium-sized, muscular dog, with long, hanging ears and a thick coat that is either curly or wavy. As their name suggests, they are excellent swimmers and this is aided by having webbed feet. The coat can come in black, white, various shades of brown, black and white or brown and white.
They found favour in Portugal for many years, performing a multitude of tasks for the fishermen, including retrieving items from the water and carrying messages between ships. They are loyal, loving and extremely intelligent and can be great fun to have around, but they do have a stubborn streak and are quite capable of outsmarting their owner. Many also love to chew so would need to be given something suitable for this. Generally good with people, children and most pets, they may need careful introduction to cats. An active working type of dog that needs plenty of physical and mental exercise, they can be very good at sports like agility and, obviously, they love to swim too!
Portuguese Water Dogs shed very little so their coat needs trimming, although less frequently than the poodle as the coat is slower to grow. They can be given an even trim all over or a "lion trim" - developed from their work in the water where the rear and muzzle were shaved to help with swimming but thick hair was left around their front to protect their vital organs and joints. They can be prone to hip dysplasia, PRA and GM-1 Storage Disease, a fatal disease that effects the nerves.