Portuguese Water Dog Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
WATER DOG PORTUGUESE
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Portuguese Water Dog General Appearance: Known for centuries along Portugal's coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build that allowed for a full day's work in and out of the water. The Portuguese Water Dog is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and to shore. He is a loyal companion and alert guard. This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness. Size, Proportion, Substance: Size - Height at the withers - Males, 20 to 23 inches. The ideal is 22 inches. Females, 17 to 21 inches. The ideal is 19 inches. Weight - For males, 42 to 60 pounds; for females, 35 to 50 pounds. Proportion - Off square; slightly longer than tall when measured from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks, and from withers to ground. Substance - Strong, substantial bone; well developed, neither refined nor coarse, and a solidly built, muscular body. Head: An essential characteristic; distinctively large, well proportioned and with exceptional breadth of topskull. Expression - Steady, penetrating, and attentive. Eyes - Medium in size; set well apart, and a bit obliquely. Roundish and neither prominent nor sunken. Black or various tones of brown in color. Darker eyes are preferred. Eye rims fully pigmented with black edges in black, black and white, or white dogs; brown edges in brown dogs. Haws are dark and not apparent. Ears - Set well above the line of the eye. Leather is heart shaped and thin. Except for a small opening at the back, ears are held nicely against the head. Tips should not reach below the lower jaw. Skull - In profile, it is slightly longer than the muzzle, its curvature more accentuated at the back than in the front. When viewed head-on, the top of the skull is very broad and appears domed, with a slight depression in the middle. The forehead is prominent, and has a central furrow, extending two-thirds of the distance from stop to occiput. The occiput is well defined. Stop - Well defined. Muzzle - Substantial; wider at the base than at the nose. Jaws- Strong and neither over nor undershot. Nose - Broad, well flared nostrils. Fully pigmented; black in dogs with black, black and white, or white coats; various tones of brown in dogs with brown coats. Lips - Thick, especially in front; no flew. Lips and mucous membranes of the roof of the mouth, under tongue, and gums are quite black, or well ticked with black in dogs with black, black and white, or white coats; various tones of brown in dogs with brown coats. Bite - Scissors or level. Teeth - Not visible when the mouth is closed. Canines strongly developed. Neck, Topline, Body : Neck - Straight, short, round, and held high. Strongly muscled. No dewlap. Topline - Level and firm. Body - Chest is broad and deep, reaching down to the elbow. Ribs are long and well-sprung to provide optimum lung capacity. Abdomen well held up in a graceful line. Back is broad and well muscled. Loin is short and meets the croup
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smoothly. Croup is well formed and only slightly inclined with hip bones hardly apparent. Tail - Not docked; thick at the base and tapering; set on slightly below the line of the back; should not reach below the hock. When the dog is attentive the tail is held in a ring, the front of which should not reach forward of the loin. The tail is of great help when swimming and diving. Forequarters: Shoulders are well inclined and very strongly muscled. Upper arms are strong. Forelegs are strong and straight with long, well muscled forearms. Carpus is heavy- boned, wider in front than at the side. Pasterns are long and strong. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are round and rather flat. Toes neither knuckled up nor too long. Webbing between the toes is of soft skin, well covered with hair, and reaches the toe tips. Central pad is very thick, others normal. Nails held up slightly off the ground. Black, brown, white, and striped nails are allowed. Hindquarters : Powerful; well balanced with the front assembly. Legs, viewed from the rear, are parallel to each other, straight and very strongly muscled in upper and lower thighs. Buttocks are well developed. Tendons and hocks are strong. Metatarsus long, no dewclaws. Feet similar in all respects to forefeet. Coat: A profuse, thickly planted coat of strong, healthy hair, covering the whole body evenly, except where the forearm meets the brisket and in the groin area, where it is thinner. No undercoat, mane or ruff. There are two varieties of coat : Curly - Compact, cylindrical curls, somewhat lusterless. The hair on the ears is sometimes wavy. Wavy - Falling gently in waves, not curls, and with a slight sheen. No preference will be given to coat type, either curly or wavy. Clip: Two clips are acceptable: Lion Clip - As soon as the coat grows long, the middle part and hindquarters, as well as the muzzle, are clipped. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length. Retriever Clip – In order to give a natural appearance and a smooth unbroken line, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to follow the outline of the dog, leaving a short blanket of coat no longer than one inch in length. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full length. No discrimination will be made against the correct presentation of a dog in either Lion Clip or Retriever Clip . Color: Black, white, and various tones of brown; also combinations of black or brown with white. A white coat does not imply albinism provided nose, mouth, and eyelids are black. In animals with black, white, or black and white coats, the skin is decidedly bluish. Gait: Short, lively steps when walking. The trot is a forward striding, well balanced movement. Temperament: An animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue. A dog of exceptional intelligence and a loyal companion, it obeys its master with facility and apparent pleasure. It is obedient with those who look after it or with those for whom it works.
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Summary Statement: The Portuguese Water Dog is spirited yet obedient, robust, and of unexaggerated, functional conformation; sure, substantially boned and muscled, and able to do a full day's work in and out of the water. Faults: Any deviation from the described ideal is a fault. However, those inherent characteristics that are imperative for the maintenance of proper type, and therefore cannot be overlooked, are listed as Major Faults. Major Faults : 1. Temperament - Shy, vicious, or unsound behavior. 2. Head - Unimpressive; small in overall size; narrow in topskull; snipey in muzzle. 3. Substance - Light or refined in bone; lacking in muscle. 4. Coat - Sparse; naturally short, close-lying hair, partially or over all; wispy or wiry in texture; brittle; double-coated. 5. Tail - Other than as described. Extremely low set. Heavy or droopy in action. 6. Pigment - Any deviation from described pigmentation; other than black or various tones of brown eye color; pink or partial pigmentation in nose, lips, eyes, or eye rims. 7. Bite - Overshot or undershot.
Approved January 15, 1991 Effective February 27, 1991
Judging the PORTUGUESE WATER DOG
and scuba diving. I have always had a dog and started in obedience and breed competition at age 14. My first obedience titled dog was an Alaskan Malamute, which I also handled to a breed championship in the late 1970s. I obtained my first Portuguese Water Dog in 1989 and completed both a “UD” obedience title and a breed championship—one of the first to do so. I started judging obe- dience in 2001 and became a breed judge five years later.
We recently moved to the town of Burleson, Texas, where we have more spare time and energy not having to deal with acreage. We are trying to slow down in our outside activities, using much of our time with for dogs--four over the age of 12 and needing extra attention. Whenever possible, we spend time with our family in various areas of Missouri and Califor- nia, especially my most adorable grandson, Asher. I officially began my life with dogs in the early 1960s when I joined the newly formed 4-H Dog Care group in California and moved quickly into the world of obedience and soon after working some of the dogs with cattle and training young horses. I began showing in obedience in 1965, while helping a friend in the conformation ring, going into conformation with our first PWD in 1984. I have been judging since 2002 and enjoy having opportunities to learn about and examine dogs closely in various areas of the country. DR. LINDA M. FOWLER
After retirement, I moved from the metro Phoenix area to a small, rural community, Camp Verde, located in the beautiful Verde Val- ley of Arizona. I’ve been involved with Portuguese Water Dogs since 1984, when my first one came to me from New York. I would say that my involvement is pretty complete, in that I have shown in conformation, usually bred-by class, owner-han- dled my dogs to CH and GCH titles.
I live in Columbia, South Carolina. I am presently retired; my career was in nursing and health care adminis- tration. It has been a pleasure to be involved in the sport of pure-bred dogs since 1976—as a breeder and exhibitor in conformation, rally, obedience and water work. I obtained first Portuguese Water Dog (male) in 1986 and a bitch
On the performance side of the picture, I have trained and shown in agility, obedience and water work. Currently, I am training a couple of dogs in Obedience and Rally. My Therapy Dog, Liza and I make regular visits locally. The judging scene is rather limited for me as I am approved for only two breeds, PWDs and Doberman Pinschers. However, I do look forward to judging in Canada this summer at their national PWD spe- cialty and will be pleasantly anticipating judging the first 4-6 puppy class at the PWDCA national specialty in September. 1. Describe the breed in three words. KA: Balanced, strength without coarseness and attitude. LMF: Breed type, strength and substance. DH: Impressive, spirited and marine. JW: Well, I really tried, but describing the PWD in just three words is something I am just not able to do! This breed is much too complex for such a minimal description. They are highly intelligent, somewhat sensitive, can be a trainer’s nightmare or delight and they love to please,
the following year. In 1992, I was fully approved as the first PWD breeder judge and since have been approved to judge all Working breeds, Bearded Collies and Best in Show. It has been my honor to judge our National Specialty on three sepa- rate occasions, as well as a number of other Working breeds in Specialties. DAVID HADDOCK I live in Nashville, Tennessee. When I’m not dogging, I’m making money as an entrepreneur, investing in real estate
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“SLIGHTLY OFF-SQUARE; robust; WeLL-Knit; substantiaL in bone and MuscLe, yet MediuM in buiLd; thicKLy-based and poWerFuL taiL; distinctiveLy Large head; aLert and spirited; resistant to Fatigue.”
but conversely, they are great at manipulation. Their keen sense of humor can be either enjoyable or irritating, but all-in-all, they are a fantastic member of the family! 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? KA: PWDs that lack any of the traits above will not be able to perform the tasks they were originally bred to do. Even though I want to see a substantial, strong, balanced dog with an attitude, being able to maneuver quickly, with excellent agility is also a must. LMF: 1) Strength; this breed should have the ability to work in the water tirelessly for a full day. 2) Balance; dogs with an effortless side gait, reach and drive on land and also perform well in the water. 3) Exemplary temperament; confident and happy worker with an endearing attitude. DH: Slightly off-square; robust; well-knit; substantial in bone and muscle, yet medium in build; thickly-based and powerful tail; distinctively large head; alert and spirited; resistant to fatigue. JW: Type, distinctive head, substance, stable and durable temperament, structure and soundness to do a day’s work on a boat. Having done water work with my own PWDs, I have come to look for specific aspects in the structure. Those that provide the strength and ability to do the job they were bred for. Some of those being strength of muzzle, well-muscled neck, rudder-like tail, well-sprung ribcage, as well as rear and front muscle strength for swimming and diving. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? KA: My biggest concern is that many PWDs are becoming too pretty and flashy, with happy personalities in all situ- ations, and without the substance and determination to be considered a true working dog. Their lovely coats can help camouflage a PWD’s shortcomings. I’m concerned seeing PWDs being shown with their heads held up and back too far and taking short, quick steps, with an abun- dance of angulation in the rear, rather than the smooth, easy-flowing, powerful gait they need.
LMF: We continue to lose desirable angulation. DH: Yes—the coat! Exaggerated grooming that
attempts to construct a picture of essential breed type does not alter the need for the essential traits listed above. Creative grooming to indicate breadth of top skull or a well-defined stop no more indicates correct form and function than wearing an NFL jersey makes you a good quarterback. In this breed, the profile will fool the casual observer who doesn’t put their hands on and into that coat. JW: I’ve noted some instances of shorter and more square muzzles. While the standard does not call for a long muzzle, it does call for a ‘substantial’ muzzle wider at the base than at the nose. Also, I see more rear angula- tion than desired, certainly not consistent with that of the front. Not necessarily a trait, but in my opinion, the grooming is becoming way too much overdone, resulting in sculpted, topiary-looking dogs. A longer coat in the wavy is acceptable, but for a curly coat, I definitely prefer a shorter coat (as defined in the standard) so that I can see the true outline of the dog.
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“PWDS HAVE IMPROVED IN THE LAST TEN YEARS, especiaLLy their teMperaMents and soundness.”
4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? KA: PWDs have improved over the last 10 years, especially their temperaments and soundness. Since that time there have been many changes with different extremes, depending on which PWD is most popular at the time. With each style there have been exaggerations, right now with flashy quick movement, a more refined body which can accommodate more coat, and showmanship seeming to be a more common extreme than in previous years. I do think their “PWDness” is often lacking and they are becoming a show dog rather than a working dog. LMF: I do not see any appreciable change in quality. DH: I clearly believe that Portuguese Water Dogs are healthier now, thanks to a fabulous commitment by our parent club and breeders. My concern otherwise is that too many exhibits are losing some of the essential breed characteristics that allow this dog to function. Our breed standard essentially calls for a robust, ruggedly built dog of substantial bone and muscle—all in a medium build. We are seeing too many exhibits that simply grow hair and craft it in such a manner to create this profile. A Portuguese Water Dog should present an indelible impression of strength, spirit and soundness. Coat can’t do that! Fortunately, we have many strong lines among the breeding program that continue to produce dogs that satisfy both ideal genotype and phenotype. When you see a correct one—and especially if you can see it work— you understand why these traits are important and must be preserved. “A GOOD PWD is correct Whether they are a 17-inch bitch or a 23-inch dog, Whether curLy or Wavy coated, Whether bLacK or broWn, Whether in a WorKing retriever or Lion cLip...”
JW: No, I don’t know that I can say that they are better, nor will I say they are any worse. I do think they have become more popular with the judges as we are seeing them more and more in group placements and BIS. Basi- cally, I think we have some very good PWDs today. How- ever, there are times I think that the old adage, “more is better”, is at work in the minds of some breeders, resulting in larger dogs and bitches, excessive bone and substance and now-and-then questionable temperaments. We, as breeders, must always keep in mind that the PWD is a moderate dog. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? KA: I’d like judges—and breeders—to remember that PWDs should still be able to perform a day’s work. It’s taken many years to convince judges that we don’t have coarse Poodles, and although many nice dogs being shown are flashy and impressive, that’s not always the most correct PWD in the ring. PWDs are not an extreme dog in any way. Temperaments should never be aggressive or timid, and extreme angles, either restricted or over-angled, would prevent a true working dog from performing its duties for any length of time. LMF: Judges express great confusion about evaluating our breed, because of different trims, coat types, colors, size, etc. It saddens me to know that a number of them have trouble getting past all of the show to look at the dog underneath and not the trimmings. It is therefore, a true hands-on breed. A good PWD is correct whether they are a 17-inch bitch or a 23-inch dog, whether curly or wavy coated, whether black or brown, whether in a working retriever or lion clip or if they exemplify the standard spirited, yet obedient nature and a robust, medium build
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exposure, it is possible that new judges may not under- stand the need for strength in the neck or a strong muzzle. Nor might they realize why the ear is set well above the line of the eye or many of the other structural needs that make up a working PWD. Having said that, it may well be that coat colors have puzzled many a new judge. With the black, white and various tones of brown, it can indeed be a puzzlement! This, too, is discussed at length at Judges Education programs. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? KA: I would love to see more judges attending water trials, in order to understand why PWDs move as they do and the necessity of a substantial body, strong will and athletic ability. LMF: Unfortunately, there probably isn’t enough room in just one article for me to share as much as I would like. DH: A good Portuguese Water Dog has the traits listed above—all for good reason. A good one is pleasing to the eye and presents a body of an athlete and a will to get in the game. What distinguishes a good one from a great one comes from inside—the spirited disposition that is evidenced by confidence, stamina and that expression, which is uniquely the Portuguese Water Dog. JW: I have not touched upon the national club’s dedica- tion to the health and welfare of Portuguese Water Dog. We have, over the years, worked diligently at funding research and testing to discover causes and develop tests or cures for the various health problems associated with our breed. We require our breeders to document health testing before they are eligible for certain club programs and we have a health and litter database in which mem- bers list the dogs, the health testing done, any health issues and cause of death. We urge our members to meet health problems head on, to be forthright in sharing health information and when faced with a health issue or problem to seek out one of the various health committees for information.
that allowed for a full day’s work in and out of the water. I would encourage judges and aspiring judges of our breed to make an effort to see these dogs work in the water to better appreciate the desirable physical attri- butes for the Portuguese Water Dog. Even as a breeder, who now works her dogs in the water, it was a learning experience for me. DH: Here I go again, but you can’t judge this breed very well from the sideline and that includes staring at the dog in profile. New (and experienced) judges can be fooled by the various coat types and presentations. Look beyond the coat! Another thing—while they are swimmers, they are not fish! They are a wonderful breed of multiple util- ity. They must be agile, very discerning and very confi- dent. No shy dogs in the ring, please! JW: If these new judges have attended one of our PWDCA sanctioned, well-presented Judges Education Seminars/ Workshops and have also attended and been mentored at a water trial, then there should be very little room for misunderstanding this breed. Not having had that
“We urge our MeMbers to MEET HEALTH PROBLEMS HEAD ON, to be Forthright in sharing heaLth inForMation and When Faced With a heaLth issue or probLeM to seeK out one oF the various heaLth coMMittees...”
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7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? KA: Many years ago I considered myself quite the dog trainer, but it didn’t take long for PWDs to bring me back to reality. With a young dog and a bitch in season, we headed off to the high desert of California. Showing outside was okay because I knew PWDs are always willing to please their people. Every- thing went fine until the recall. I was a bit concerned that the dog was coming in a bit fast, but he slid in at a sit—and, of course, humped my leg. Everyone thought it was very cute, but the judge wouldn’t consider it an official sit. DH: I showed my Breed Champion and Utility Dog “Tanner” to Michelle Billings at the 1993 National. At the time, he was one of only a few Portuguese Water Dogs to have completed all obedience titles available. After providing comic relief in the obedience rings, we made our way to the breed ring, competing against 60 or so of the great dogs of the time and many professional handlers. During our examination, Tanner decided to pace on the down and back. Mrs. Billings looked
over the dog carefully and requested, “Do it again.” On the second attempt, Tanner decided to jump up and down and grab the lead, creating laughter with his antics. Thinking I was done, Mrs. Billings raised her hand, walked around the dog and requested yet another attempt. On this go, Tanner was magnificent and received a nice round of applause (cyni- cal crowd). Judge Billings approved as well, grabbed me by the arm and said, “Honey, this is a nice dog. Perhaps you would benefit from some obedience work.” JW: Well, it was not PWDs, in fact it was the Great Dane ring in Scottsdale, Arizona. There was a horse show event going on at the same time in a nearby arena. As the Danes were coming in the ring and the judge was busy at the table, a very well-known handler came in the ring with a miniature horse, no larger than the Danes. The handler set up the horse in the lineup, the judge moved along checking numbers and when he came to the horse, it was hilarious! I’ll never forget the look on the face of the judge, who took it all in stride, while the crowd roared with laughter.
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SELECTING THE CORRECT PORTUGUESE WATER DOG A JUDGE’S CHALLENGE!
BY MARYANNE B. MURRAY CHAIRMAN, BREED STANDARD COMMITTEE Portuguese Water Dog Club of America
K udos on being selected to evaluate one of the official National Treasures of Por- tugal. Allow me to present for your consideration certain aspects of this breed which make it distinctive, celebrated and genuinely worthy of respect and admiration. As you enter the ring for your Por- tuguese Water Dog judging assign- ment, there are three rather meaning- ful words which must serve as your mantra when deciding the ideal in this breed. Those words are—STRENGTH, SPIRIT and SOUNDNESS. These three embedded characteristics are key to the essence and the raison d’etre of this working water wonder and underlie the totality of a correct Portuguese Water Dog. Imagine yourself drowning in the rough, open ocean and ask yourself— which of these dogs before me exhib- its the innate power, the true grit and the core vigor to swim out and save my life? Is it the dog with minimal muscling and a timid temperament or is it the one with the long neck, the short hocks and the cute, mincing steps? Your decision is important—and you’re right —nei- ther of these dogs fits the description of a spirited, strong and brave lifesav- er! A correct Portuguese Water Dog will provide an indelible impression of STRENGTH, SPIRIT and SOUNDNESS. Find that dog in your line-up and you will have done a commendable job of assessing this remarkable breed. STRENGTH The word “strong” is used in the Por- tuguese Water Dog Breed Standard ten times and the word “muscled” is used seven times. Other descriptive adjec- tives include powerful, rugged, robust, substantial, solid, well-developed and well-knit. This is a strong dog. This was
Able to do a full day’s work in and out of the water.
“AS YOU ENTER THE RING FOR YOUR PORTUGUESE WATER DOG JUDGING ASSIGNMENT, THERE ARE THREE RATHER MEANINGFUL WORDS WHICH MUST SERVE AS YOUR MANTRA WHEN DECIDING THE IDEAL IN THIS BREED. THOSE WORDS ARE— STRENGTH, SPIRIT AND SOUNDNESS.”
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Off square; slightly longer than tall.
A solidly built, muscular body.
a dog used in rough, open ocean waters to retrieve nets and gear, to herd schools of fish, to carry messages between boats, to guard the catch and often to save the life of an overboard fisher- man. This canine crew member had to be solidly built, with well-developed muscles and strong, substantial bone. He needed a strong, fairly short neck and strong jaws to give him an advan- tage when dragging items through the water. Broad, well-flared nostrils for air intake and a broad, deep chest opti- mized his lung capacity for swimming distances. The dog you seek as closest to the ideal will be strong, rugged, sol- id and very muscular. Can you tell just by looking which dog that is? NO! You MUST put your hands on these dogs and feel for what your eye cannot discern. Get through and under the stylized presentations and feel for a dog of sub- stance and STRENGTH. A clean, well groomed dog is desirable and pleasing to the eye—the hands, however, must
on a loose lead to accurately determine his joie de vivre. His movement is fluid and easy, proud and happy. Head held high and tail carried up and gallantly with his “flag” flying. Remember, car- riage can be telling! Without a spirited nature, you do not have a correct Portu- Hard work requires this breed to be structurally correct, physically and temperamentally healthy, in fit, robust condition, having all the proper parts and all of the moving parts performing their functions in a well-balanced, fluid manner. Brains and brawn—a combina- tion which testifies to a correct Portu- guese Water Dog and his noble working heritage. If there is reasonable doubt that a dog in your ring is unsound thus unqualified and/or unable to perform the strenuous historical tasks asked of him, then please, do not reward this lack of soundness. Generic dog faults abound in the AKC breed rings for all breeds—allow an unsound Portuguese Water Dog to walk from your ring with championship points and you have done a major injustice to the breed and its future. The sport of purebred dogs is intended to determine the very best specimens of a breed in order to breed the best to the best to get the best. A SOUND dog is a universal application— Portuguese Water Dogs are no differ- ent—hale and hearty, robust and rug- ged—choose the strong, spirited and sound dog as closest to the ideal. guese Water Dog. SOUNDNESS As the triple S mantra of STRENGTH, SPIRIT and SOUNDNESS embeds itself in your mind, it’s now time to let go of any biases for or against coat type, col- or and clip. They are visual diversions and may serve to boggle the mind as there are, when combined, countless
be the final authority on the solidity of the underlying construction. SPIRIT To be capable of the work required of him, the Portuguese Water Dog must be quite spirited and brave as well as obedient and loyal to his master. His intelligence, never to be underestimat- ed, contributes to his energetic nature and his successful work history. His exceptionally broad skull protects the source of that extraordinary intellect— always alert and ready for orders. The eyes provide clues - consider his steady and penetrating expression as a natural reflection of his attentiveness and per- haps, his assessment of you! Whether a hardy, handsome male or a lovely, pleasing bitch—be certain the dog is “on the ball” and “tuned in” to his sur- roundings. A correct Portuguese Water Dog is a lion-hearted and plucky force of nature—the embodiment of spirit and intelligence! Be sure he is moved
“A CLEAN, WELL GROOMED DOG IS DESIRABLE AND PLEASING TO THE EYE—THE HANDS, HOWEVER, MUST BE
THE FINAL AUTHORITY ON THE SOLIDITY OF THE UNDERLYING CONSTRUCTION.”
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Exceptional breadth of topskull.
variations. Let them go! The triple S’s are to be your guide. In your capacity as an AKC Judge, you already know basic canine structure and movement and what constitutes generic and almost universally applicable faults for all dogs. Need I mention that cow hocks, elbowing out, crabbing, moving close, sickle hocks and shyness are undesir- able in the Portuguese Water Dog? I didn’t think so. As an AKC Judge who takes his/her adjudication assignments to heart, you will have already com- mitted the Breed Standard to memory and most importantly, you will be look- ing for the Portuguese Water Dog that exudes the triple S’s. Specific characteristics, under the triple S banner, which are important for breed type are what you need on your “cheat sheet”. You can’t be expected to know the breed as well as some- one who owns and breeds them but you are expected to be familiar with what makes a Portuguese Water Dog unique. Your ideal will have the follow- ing. Overall look; slightly off square, robust and structurally unexagger- ated. Movement; balanced, effortless, free-moving and never forced to cover more ground than he should. Structure; relatively short neck, deep chest, well- sprung ribs, broad, strong back and level topline, short loin, tail thick at the base and set on slightly below the line of the back, powerfully muscled hind- quarters, rear legs parallel to each other and straight, angulation in balance with
front assembly and a long rear pastern. Head; NO—this is NOT a head breed but the head is an important aspect of breed type with an exceptionally broad skull, a substantial muzzle with a very strong jaw, eyes set well apart and obliquely, a definitive stop, ears set well above the line of the eye and a promi- nent forehead with a central furrow you can only feel. Height at the shoulder is quite variable and acceptable so please, don’t discount a smaller dog or bitch of quality nor reward a large dog because it looks impressive. The triple S compo- nents apply to the whole package and how it manifests these vital characteris- tics. The Portuguese Water Dog—heads up, tails up—an honest, able and sure tour de force! A matter I must mention is that the Breed Standard lists seven Major Faults which, in the rest of the world, are considered to be Disqualifications. The AKC discouraged the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America from having these Disqualifications in its Standard and you need to know that when I say “dis- couraged” I’m being diplomatic. Please, Judges, pay attention to these Major Faults. Undershot dogs are becoming Champions; shy dogs, droopy tailed dogs, dogs refined in muscle and bone and snipey muzzled dogs as well are being rewarded with points. That is not appropriate in today’s breed ring. That is not appreciated by the dedicat- ed caretakers of the breed. Seeing dogs with major faults become CH’s and then
go on to the whelping box and breeding careers because of inappropriate judg- ing decisions projects a dim light on the whole AKC judging process. The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America has worked hard to preserve and protect this praiseworthy canine. The essence of the breed has been staunch- ly maintained in its Breed Standard and 76 years after the original Standard was committed to paper, Portuguese Water Dogs continue to reflect the image and the spirit of their noble working ances- tors. Breeders have worked hard to fol- low the original blueprint and in doing so have preserved the integrity and uniqueness of this fisherman’s work- ing companion… a dog that exudes STRENGTH, SPIRIT and SOUNDNESS. Your educated assistance in our endeav- or, Judges, is greatly appreciated. BIO Maryanne B. Murray has been involved with Portuguese Water Dogs since 1979 as an owner, breeder, exhibi- tor and recently as a judge. She has produced numerous PWD champions under her BRINMAR kennel name. Maryanne is currently Chairman of the PWDCA Breed Standard Commit- tee and over the years has served as PWDCA President, Secretary, Direc- tor, Newsletter Editor and Chairman of numerous committees. She received a Maxwell Award from the DWAA and is currently working on documenting the history of the PWDCA.
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Eves-Cerf Testing is for PRA and other eye abnormalities. Pro- gressive Retinal Atrophy is an eye disease that will ultimately cause blindness as the dog ages. Optigen has developed a DNA test to determine if a dog is clear, a carrier or is affected. This test is used by breeders to avoid matching up dogs who might produce affect- ed puppies. For more information go to www.optigen.com . CERF exams are recommended annually to assess dogs for other forms of eye abnormalities. Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy, (JDCM is an inherited fatal disease in young PWDs caused by a rare recessive gene, car- ried by both parents. Puppies from age six weeks to seven months can show this disease and die suddenly. There is no known cure or treatment for this condition. In 2007, the University of Penn Veterinary Medicine Research program developed a JCDM Linked Marker DNA test. PWDCA has required that at least one dog in a breeding pair be tested clear for JDCM. More information about this test is available at from PennGen and at the PWDCA website at www.pwdca.org . Addison’s Disease: This disease is found in both animals and humans and indicates that the adrenal gland has stopped produc- ing essential hormones. Once diagnosed, the disease is treatable. It is likely hereditary and can also be triggered by stress. Symptoms includes weight loss, vomiting, depression, lethargy, general weak- ness and shedding of hair. Understanding the potential for this dis- ease will save a PWD’s life. Hair loss Follicular Dysplasia: Some dogs will exhibit patterned hair loss between two to four years of age and it is thought to be hereditary. Hair may fall out in a spot on the body and may or not grow back. Most dogs who exhibit this condition are the product of breeding of curly to curly parents, although curly dogs have no greater incidence of this condition. Many breeders typically breed curly to wavy for optimum hair coats. There is no test available for this condition. Other conditions: The PWDCA web site describes other condi- tions but most of these are relatively rare. Because of the commit- ment by breeders, Portuguese Water Dogs remain one of the health- iest breeds and most live to be 14 15 years of age. For a new owner, their best bet is to find a responsible, experienced breeder who has a demonstrated track record of healthy dogs. If they are an AKC Breeder of Merit they have already met breeding and health testing requirements. The next step is to find an experienced veterinarian who understands PWDs and has treated them before. Finally, any good breeder will be an invaluable source of information about your dog’s-health and what to look for as your dog ages. Health
PORTUGUESE WATER DOG
BY MIKE AND CATHY DUGAN T he PWDCA has been committed for many years to extensive health testing by breeders to ensure that we produce the healthiest dogs possible. For responsible breeders, the additional cost of health testing is part of the cost of their commitment to the breed. The PWDCA “strongly” recommends that any dog used for breeding should be at least two years old, be evaluated for hip dysplasia, tested for GM-1 status, Optigen screened for PRA and have an annual CERF test for over- all eye health. The PWD Health Registry is the best source of up-to-date and accurate information about the health of a particular dog, kennel or breeding program. As a new owner, you should always ask breeder if they participate in the Health Registry. If they don’t you might ask why not. The Registry requires breeders to report test results for GM-1, Storage Disease. This is a rare disease and can affect both humans and dogs. It is a genetically transmitted fatal metabolic disease. Fortunately, there are DNA tests that will indicate whether your dog has the disease or is a carrier of the disease. The NYU Depart- ment of Neurology issues certificates after testing designating “N”, or non-carrier, “C” for carrier with an “L” or “A” showing that the dog’s rating is even more accurate because it comes from parents with good ratings. All dogs who will be bred must have this test. Orthopedics (Hips and Elbows), OFA and Penn Hip exams. These exams diagnose hip dysplasia if it exists. Dysplasia indicates that a dog’s hips have not formed perfectly and may be slight or severe. Dogs with severe hip dysplasia should not be bred although the dog may be physically fine with little pain or problems. OFA will not certify hips until a dog is at least two years old. PENNHIP can be done at four months.
“Because of the commitment by breeders, PORTUGUESE WATER DOGS REMAIN ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST BREEDS...”
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THE FOLLOWING IS A HUMOROUS (BUT PRETTY ACCURATE) DESCRIPTION OF WHAT AN OWNER CAN ACTUALLY EXPECT FROM LIFE WITH A PWD. WHAT IS A PORTUGUESE WATER DOG, REALLY?
COURTESY OF THE PORTUGUESE WATER DOG CLUB OF AMERICA
F irst, the Standard’s actual words, and then a look at those words in another light. Known for centuries along Portugal’s coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build that allowed for a full day’s work in and out of the water. The Portuguese Water Dog is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and shore. He is a loyal companion and an alert guard. This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well- proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness. EXPRESSION Steady, penetrating, and attentive. TEMPERAMENT THE REAL STANDARD GENERAL APPEARANCE An animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue. A dog of exceptional intelligence and a loyal companion, it obeys its master with facility and apparent pleasure. It is obedient to those who look after it or with those for whom it works. WHAT IT REALLY MEANS GENERAL APPEARANCE Notorious as a brawler for centuries along Portugal’s coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a pushy nature and a robust, medium build that needed the mental and physical demands of a full day’s work in and out of the water to reduce its energy level to one that allowed it to hear and obey its master’s commands. The Portuguese Water Dog seeks and loves to splash and wallow in mud, water bowls, toilets with open lids, and any liquid—water, paint, etc. It does this with great finesse and stamina, unendingly, while aid- ing its master by retrieving any item that it sees and wants to carry, regardless of size, delicacy, or ownership. Its incessant retrieving instinct leads to a dog that must have something in its mouth to carry, chew on, or swallow, whether that item is edible or decorative, such as furniture.
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WHAT IS A PORTUGUESE WATER DOG, REALLY?
“A DOG OF EXCEPTIONAL ABILITY TO MANIPULATE PEOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT, AND A STRONG DESIRE TO LEAD, MAKES IT INCESSANTLY DESIRE TO BE AROUND HUMANS WHOM IT CAN BEND TO ITS WISHES.”
He is a clinging companion and an incessant alarm barker. This highly manipu- lative breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy, which require extensive grooming (bathing, brushing, combing, detangling, etc) far in excess of the time that would be spent vacuuming up dog hair. If not groomed regularly, small amounts of dirt, twigs, dust, mats, and other yard matter “Velcro” themselves to the unruly coat until being redistributed in the home; a common PWD owner decorating trend referred to as “bringing the outside in.” It has an impressive head of considerable breadth and well-proportioned mass, which it uses for head and body rams; a ruggedly built, well-knit body, which enables it to counter-surf and jump onto tables and over fences; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder or to clear items off coffee tables and destroy Lego constructions built on the
floor by children. EXPRESSION
Direct, rude, and demanding. The Portuguese Water Dog likes to be at eye level with humans, resulting in an almost un-extinguishable jumping-up greeting behavior. TEMPERAMENT An animal with a mind of its own, brash, with ADHD. A dog of exceptional ability to manipulate people and its environment, and a strong desire to lead, makes it incessantly desire to be around humans whom it can bend to its wishes. If trained by a person with patience, superior intelligence, and unilateral focus, it will obey its master with facility and apparent pleasure until it decides to test or until it devises an alternative worth trying. COAT AND THE ‘HYPOALLERGENIC’ ASPECT The low shedding quality that attracts many to this breed also means that they need grooming. They should have a single coat of hair (most breeds are double-coat- ed) that keeps growing. It needs to be brushed and combed regularly and clippered periodically. How often depends on your preferences and the growth rate for the individual dog. No matter what, a Portuguese Water Dog will require a good bit of grooming time from you. Since they shed very little (but they do shed—all mammals shed at least a little), they are often better suited than other breeds for people with allergies. However, it is suggested that if you have severe allergies, you spend time with adult PWDs before getting one. Many people are allergic to Portuguese Water Dogs. Please be careful. Look up “hypoallergenic” in the dictionary: “Having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction.” It does NOT mean non-allergenic. People can be (and are) aller- gic to all breeds of dogs. Nothing is more upsetting, to the buyer, breeder, and pup, than having to return a pup because of a family member’s allergy! It’s tough for all concerned. Spend time with the breed before bringing one into your home as a family member. Allow the allergic person to bury their nose in the dog’s fur and really give it a chance for a reaction.
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Portuguese Water Dog THE VERSATILE
W hen you consider the breadth of work that the Portuguese Water Dog did for the Algarve fisherman, the versatility as a breed should come as no surprise. Jules Asbed, breeder/handler of gen- erations of PWDs to the widest range of event titling says, “This breed has it in them to do anything. An individual of the breed will show dominant traits best suited for certain tasks, but the breed can and does do everything.” PWDs excel at Agility, Obedience, Rally, Scent and Nosework, Barn Hunt, FastCAT, Therapy, Tracking, Search and Rescue, Coast Guard Res- cue, Dock Diving, Truffle Hunting, Carting, Herding, Trained Service Dog Work, Weight Pull, and PWDCA Heritage-Based Water Work. The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America prizes and recognizes this versatility by encourag- ing owners with two event accomplishment award options. The Register or Merit, or ROM, is an AKC event-based award sequence. The Multiple Achievement Certificate (MAC) is a program that recognizes the many PWD owners and dogs who train and compete in a wider range of dog sports and activities, regardless of registry, area of com- petition, or title. Since 2014, PWDs with herding and carting (as well as the more obvious dock div- ing and alternate agility systems) have been recog- nized by the parent club through the MAC program. BY MARTHA RUSKAI
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THE VERSATILE PORTUGUESE WATER DOG
performance points. “Rixa” was also an exceptional Therapy Dog, with many hos- pital visits under her harness. The Portuguese Water Dog’s “fair nose” is showcased in Tracking, Scent Work, Nosework, Truffle and Sorel Mush- room Hunting, and most especially, in the exceptional work many do in Search and Rescue. A PWD, “Dutch,” was among the first to search Ground Zero. To read more about his work go to: http://www. eightpondfarm.com/narrativeWTC.html . Another PWD, handled by Connie Mil- lard, “Spider,” who also happens to be the litter brother of the aforementioned “Rixa,” excels in Search and Rescue and served as part of the Katrina recovery effort as part of Missouri’s Task Force. Spi- der is also an avid Sorel Mushroom Hunter in the woods near his home. Other PWDs serve in Search and Rescue and, in Europe, in the Coast Guard. It often comes as a surprise to many in the US that the FCI includes the Cao de Agua in Group 8: Retrievers/Flushing Dogs/Water Dogs [UK Gundog Group]. While not the most common of hunting dogs in the US, more than one Portuguese Water Dog has successfully assisted own- ers with fowl retrieving on hunting excur- sions. From Doug, breeder and hunter: “Caeli is an upland bird versatile hunter, will quarter, seek & ‘point’ and is ruthless in finding wounded birds.” Doug prefers to hunt grouse, but Caeli will retrieve big pheasants as well. She has persisted finding lost birds when his companions’ Retriev- ers, Setters & Spaniels quit trying. “When Caeli says there’s still a bird in there, there’s a bird in there!” When you think about the activities the dogs did for the fisherman, this versa- tility seems obvious. From the Portuguese history of the breed: For centuries, the tradition of using the water dog on fishing boats was firmly established over all the
‘Taylor’ at Gate
An example of one very versatile dog is “Taylor,” Herding AHBA, Agility AKC and CPE, Rally UKC and AKC, Scent Work AKC and CPE, Nose Work NAC- SW, Barn Hunt, Obedience CDSP and AKC, Dock Diving UKC and NADD, which is recognized by AKC, AKC Fast- CAT, AKC Companion Dog titles, Farm Dog and CGC, and Portuguese Water Dog Club of America water titles Courier Excellent and Working Excellent. The Annual PWDCA National Spe- cialty showcases the versatility of the PWD and the desire for a “front- and back-titled dog” by starting with two days of two rings of water trials. Breeders and owners handle more than one hundred PWDs to water titles and in a Senior Water Show- case at PWDCA Nationals. Additionally, PWDCA Sanctioned Water Trials are held across the country annually. As many of our best breeders like to say, “The best way to evaluate a dog’s structure is to see them dripping wet and working.” During those years when suitable sites can be found, Tracking is often on the same weekend, with dogs participating in both Tracking and Water Work on the same weekend. Courier and Master level include a “reverse retrieve” in which the dog takes a buoy ball at the stern of boat and swims approximately 75 feet straight out to nowhere and drops on command upon the judge’s signal.
This showcase of Heritage Water Work is followed by Agility, Obedience, Rally, and now, as many Scent, FastCat, Trick Dog, and other events as can be squeezed into the schedule and location. Many dogs go from the Breed ring to Obedience to FastCat on the same day. Also highlight- ing this versatility is SUPERDOG, a very special honor awarded at the end of the National Specialty. This honor recognizes the overall versatility of the Portuguese Water Dog. It rewards the capabilities and efforts of the individual PWD that com- petes in three or more events and accumu- lates the most overall points for placements and qualifying performance. To be eligible for SUPERDOG, dogs must be entered and compete in at least three of the seven possible areas of competition: Conforma- tion, Obedience, Agility, Water, Rally, and (if offered) Tracking and AKC Scent Work. Louise Mowbray, who has titled mul- tiple breeds in Obedience, Tracking, Con- formation, and Agility says, ”More than any other breed I have ever had, the PWDs have always been willing to learn what I ask of them.” Proof is found in the multiple VCD PWDs Louise has trained and han- dled with advanced water titles. None is more titled than VCCH MACH3 “RIXA” UDX3 OM3 RE MXC MJB2 MXF T2B THD CWDX and 2011 PWDCA Nation- al Specialty SUPERDOG, one of only a few to win SUPERDOG with exclusively
‘DeeDee’ photo by Olaf Christien
‘Oscar Crouch’ photo by Phyllis Ensley
photo by Dean Lake
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