Showsight Presents The Portuguese Water Dog


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T he Portuguese Water Dog worked on fi sh- ing boats all along Portugal’s coasts. Th is well-balanced working dog was prized by the fi shermen as a working companion and guard dog. He lived on the boats where he was taught to herd fi sh into nets, to retrieve lost tackle or bro- ken nets, and to act as a courier from ship to ship or ship to shore. Th e advancement in technology to motorized boats and ship to shore radios have replaced many of the essential tasks the Portu- guese Water Dog was asked to do.



Th ese tasks required the dogs to be excellent swimmers and seafarers. Dogs were capable of diving underwater to retrieve fi shing gear and to prevent the escape of fi sh from the nets. Constant swimming and working with the fi shermen accounted for the remarkable muscular development of their hindquarters. As not- ed in the breed standard, this dog of excep- tional intelligence and loyal companion- ship served its master well. Our standard states: “pasterns are long and strong” and “metatarsus long...” Th is structure helps the breed to be an e ffi cient and productive mover in the water. Th e fi rst written description of the Por- tuguese Water dog is dated 1297, and con- cerns a monk’s report of a dying sailor who had been brought out of the sea by a dog that had a “black coat of rough hair, cut to the fi rst rib and with a tuft on the tip of the tail.” Due to this description, many early writings referred to the breed as the “Lion Dog.” Even today, you will still fi nd the breed in one of two acceptable clips; the Lion Clip or the Retriever Clip. Th e Portuguese Water Dog is smart, energetic, loving, mouthy, and needs a lot of attention and training. In fact, channeling the stamina, intelligence, and exuberance

of the dynamic PWD is highly rewarding (although a noteworthy challenge for any dog fancier). As with all Working breeds, having a place and responsibilities in the home makes for a happy PWD. Th eir favor- ite spot will always be by their master’s side. You can fi nd this breed competing in most all dog sports; agility, obedience, ral- ly, scent, tracking, dock diving, fast track, fl y ball, barn hunt, freestyle, carting, trick dog, parkour, weight pull, and herding. PWDs have been trained and certi fi ed as Search and Rescue Dogs. Many of you may recall “Dutch” and his owner/trainer who worked the World Trade Center aftermath. Dutch was cross-trained for live and cadaver search, making him an extremely valuable asset during those trying days. Th e PWDCA has its own sanctioned water trials that mimic many of the jobs they were once prized for in Portugal. It is an amazing sight to see our dogs still per- forming what were once vital functions for the fi sherman. We encourage anyone inter- ested in our breed, or in judging, to attend a water trial to understand the importance of the proper structure needed to complete these important tasks. Dates and locations can be found at


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 . 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 . 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


BY MIKE AND CATHY DUGAN T 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. 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 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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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.

5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?

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. Whenev- er possible, we spend time with our family in various areas of Mis- souri and California, especially

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.

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 confor- mation ring, going into conformation with our first PWD in 1984. I have been judging since 2002 and enjoy having oppor- tunities to learn about and examine dogs closely in various areas of the country.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed?

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. 7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? Many years ago I considered myself quite the dog trainer, but it didn’t take long for PWDs to bring me back to real- ity. 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. Everything 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. Every- one thought it was very cute, but the judge wouldn’t consider it an official sit. KRIS COFIELL 1. What are the two most important traits you look for when judging the Portuguese Water Dog? Are you usually fi nding them or not? Type. Is the outline/silhouette correct for the breed? Structure/movement. Is the dog properly constructed so that it can do its intended job? I am seeing far more short backed dogs and/or high on leg. The breed standard calls for “Off-square. Slightly longer then tall when measured from the prosternum to the rearmost point of the but- tocks and from withers to ground.” 2. How important is grooming to you when judging the PWD? Could you judge a ring full of clean but untrimmed dogs? Could you fi nd the best specimen regardless of grooming? The PWD is a hands-on breed. There are many talented handlers, breeders, groomers who create a beautiful dog through absence or presence of coat. Muzzles that

1. Describe the breed in three words. Balanced, strength without coarseness and attitude.

2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? 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.

3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated?

My biggest concern is that many PWDs are becoming too pretty and flashy, with happy personalities in all situa- tions, 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.

4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you fi rst started judging? Why or why not?

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

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1. Describe the breed in three words. Breed type, strength and substance.

are scissored in the Lion Trim with comb-able length of coat to give the appearance of substance. Robust build that when felt is not, etc. I had the honor of judging at a National Specialty in Sweden in 2007. With an entry of over 100, the majority of dogs were in very long coat with seven or ten bladed rears and muzzles. The more dogs you see in Lion Trims with full coat, the easier it is to understand what is happening under the coat when the dog moves. Again, ultimately you must put your hands on the dog to truly understand how the dog is built.

2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? 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.

3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? We continue to lose desirable angulation. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you fi rst started judging? Why or why not? I do not see any appreciable change in quality.

3. Do you believe a PWD should be muscled and strong? If so, why?

Of course. It’s a working breed! The dog should have bone and substance without being coarse. This is an athletic breed, capable of so much: water work, agility, tracking, obedience, etc. if you get an opportunity to see a PWDCA Water Trial it will give you an appreciation of why having a solidly built, muscular body is important. Again, avoiding becoming coarse and ponderous.

5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?

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 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.

4. Bigger and taller is not necessarily correct in PWDs as there is an ideal height quoted in the Standard. Are you seeing this in the breed and if so, why are the bigger, taller dogs are being rewarded?

The breed standard allows for a large range from the smallest/lightest bitch to the tallest/heaviest allowable dog. Judges must take the height of a dog in to consid- eration when judging bone/substance. Too frequently, judges go down the line-up and feel head and bone as a last determination and reward the dog who has the biggest head/bone. This is often the tallest/biggest dog. Head size and bone should be proportionate to the height of the dog, so biggest dog may not be most correct proportionately. Again, seeing a PWD work in the water gives you a far better idea of what is called for in the writ- ten standard. DR. LINDA M. FOWLER I live in Columbia, South Caro-

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed?

Unfortunately, there probably isn’t enough room in just one article for me to share as much as I would like. DAVID HADDOCK I live in Nashville, Tennessee.

lina. I am presently retired; my career was in nursing and health care administration. 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)

When I’m not dogging, I’m mak- ing money as an entrepreneur, investing in real estate 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 champion- ship in the late 1970s. I obtained my first Portuguese Water Dog

in 1986 and a bitch 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 separate occasions, as well as a number of other Working breeds in Specialties.

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in 1989 and completed both a “UD” obedience title and a breed championship—one of the first to do so. I started judging obedience in 2001 and became a breed judge five years later.


1. Describe the breed in three words. Impressive, spirited and marine.

2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? 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.

3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? Yes—the coat! Exaggerated grooming that

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? A good Portuguese Water Dog has the traits listed

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.

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.

7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show?

4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you fi rst started judging? Why or why not?

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 provid- ing 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 (cynical 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.” VIRGINIA MURRAY 1. What are the two most important traits you look for when judging the Portuguese Water Dog? Are you usually fi nding them or not? Number one is always the head. I want my hand to have to stretch to cover their top skulls! And their muzzle should be strong and on the squarer side—not long and snipey! I also want good substance and bone. The breed

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, rug- gedly 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.

5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?

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!

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was losing the substance aspect a while back and it was so depressing to judge the weedy, little dogs with no heads and no bone and no substance and tiny. Some were getting so small. And coat, a beautiful, healthy coat. Thankfully over the past few years we have started rebounding to the robust dog that they are supposed to be. 2. How important is grooming to you when judging the PWD? Could you judge a ring full of clean but untrimmed dogs? Could you fi nd the best specimen regardless of grooming? You are asking that question to an ex professional han- dler, I appreciate a clean, well-presented dog. I like them being trimmed. I can appreciate the time and effort that goes into a well groomed dog, that being said, I realize that the dogs being shown “across the pond” are also clean and generally well presented, but it is very difficult to determine movement and balance on dogs who have so much hair that you have to sometime guess to those features. A dog could look lower to the ground than he actually is just because his coat is hanging to the floor. One thing I particularly do not care for on the European- look dogs is the length they leave the hair on the ears, I guess it all blends in with the rest of the length of coat. All in all, with that much coat, I’m pretty sure they would sink. 3. Do you believe a PWD should be muscled and strong? If so, why? Yes, they have been bred for a strenuous task, they are a working breed. When my dog is done at the dog shows, I plan on doing water work with him. This breed does

have boundless amounts of energy and it needs to be channeled.

4. Bigger and taller is not necessarily correct in PWDs as there is an ideal height quoted in the Standard. Are you seeing this in the breed and if so, why are the bigger, taller dogs are being rewarded?

The standard reads that males should be between 20" and 23", that’s quite a bit of leeway; I personally favor the dog with more leg, more bone and substance, as long as they are balanced, according to the standard. But many mis- understand the correct balance in this breed. I asked for the picture of the shaved down PWD from the PWDCA Illustrated Standard be put in this article, if it could not be inserted because of space, I hope people will look it up—in my view, it is a great illustration. I think what needs to be emphasized here is that for some time this breed has been losing its leg and getting too low which also throws the correct balance off badly. Low and long is not correct in this breed. The fact that we are seeing dogs with more leg under them and more substance is a good thing! As long as they keep their balance, which is, also misunderstood in this breed. Because dogs were getting shorter on leg, judges were thinking that they were to be more rectangular in shape that is not true. The standard states they should be, “Off square; slightly longer than tall when measured from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks.” And I want to emphasize the word slightly. A fellow PWD lover told me something just recently that was told to her by George Ward, “If you were standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and I said to lean slightly forward, how far would you lean?” The standard also uses the term well knit. If you Google that, it is described as meaning strongly and compactly built. So, in my opinion, this breed needs to get some of the size and substance back, because it had been lacking or losing it for some time. JOYCE VANEK My mother raised and showed

Cocker Spaniels when I was a little girl. I started breeding and showing Miniature Schnau- zers in the late 60s-70s and the OES in 1976. I got my first Por- tuguese Water Dog in 1980 and returned it to the breeder. Started exhibiting a bit with 4H—my Miniature Schnauzers were shown my the various stud

dog owners. I first showed in obedience with my OES about 1978. Conformation in 1979. Followed by herding and water trials and agility. I started judging in 1992. then fol- lowed with an addition to our family a fabulous Portuguese Water Dog who became Multi BIS and multi performance titled Timbermist Lancar Flor de Mar CDX AWD Number one PWD.

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2. Your opinion of the current quality of the breed? Quality has diminished—poor fronts and rears. Occlusion and missing teeth on the rise but a lot of lush, profuse coats. Too many poor toplines and underjaws need improvement. 3. Any shift in the balance of popularity among breeds? Why do you think this happened? Definitely a shift in breed popularity to the short coated breeds and “exotic” also known as incorrect or disquali- fying colors and patterns. As far as dogs in conformation, the coated breeds have reduced in entries. Many exhibi- tors seem less interested in the upkeep, conditioning and coat care. It is an art and requires a lot of skill and time. 4. Any trends you are seeing which you’d like stopped? I’d like to see a trend started—a wet PWD contest at PWD shows. Wouldn’t that be interesting and revealing and fun?! 5. Any particular challenges breeders face in our current economic/social climate? The ever-rising costs, instant gratification and the unin- volved make a quick buck breeding machines 6. What makes your breed the ideal companion in these 21st- century times? My Portuguese Water Dog’s size-formidable, but portable. Temperament-outgoing, unflappable, sweetly curious and investigative—okay, nosey. Alert, athletic, very “in the moment” companions. Hike, yes! Run, yes! Swim, yes! Cuddle, yes! Relax,when it’s time to chill, yes! 7. Is this an advantage in the show ring? A fit and well-conditioned, enthused dog is always correct for the show ring 8. Anything else you’d like to share? Newcomers to the Sport would benefit by staying for the entire show. Attend matches—where some offer free handling and training opportunities. Volunteer to learn and help with the “workings” of a dog show. Arrange talking with breeders, exhibitors, judges and handlers and juniors (when they are not in the throes of showing) Many people are very approachable. Check the conforma- tion and performance info on the AKC website. Newcom- ers to judging—attend breed seminars, go to breed-spe- cific events (water trials, hunt tests, carting, etc). JANIS WATTS 1. What are the two most

Type is important to me. And, equally important is struc- ture and soundness. I’m looking for a specimen that looks like a Portuguese Water Dog and has all of the structural components to enable it to work independently and effi- ciently in the water, sound enough to complete difficult tasks and endure a full day’s work for the fisherman. While there may be a few that do not meet my expecta- tions, I believe that for the most part, our breed is doing well. 2. How important is grooming to you when judging the PWD? Could you judge a ring full of clean but untrimmed dogs? Could you fi nd the best specimen regardless of grooming? The Judges Education Committee of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America urges judges to look beyond the grooming. Other than cleanliness, the grooming should not and cannot make the dog. It is not difficult for me to look beyond the elegant, some- times creative, grooming that has become the trend. I hear breeders often mention they wish the dogs could be judged while wet and, while I would not at all mind judging a ring of untrimmed dogs, I would prefer the hair be short rather than at full length. Could I find the best specimen regardless of grooming? I would sincerely like to think so!

3. Do you believe a PWD should be muscled and strong? If so, why?

I do firmly believe that a Portuguese Water Dog should be muscled and strong! The breed standard calls for a strong jaw, strongly muscled neck, well-muscled back, very strongly muscled shoulders, strong upper arm and foreleg and a strong hock. This muscle and strength is necessary and extremely important to enable the dogs to perform their work in the water. The Portuguese Water Dog should be a robust, substantial dog that is the picture of strength and soundness.

4. Bigger and taller is not necessarily correct in PWDs as there is an ideal height quoted in the Standard. Are you seeing this in the breed and if so, why are the bigger, taller dogs are being rewarded?

Granted, we have three-inch span in female height and a four-inch span in the males and that allows for quite a bit of variation. I do think we are seeing more, both bitches and dogs, at the top end of the standard and above. Very recently, while watching the breed from ringside, I discovered that one of the dogs I thought was a male, was in fact a bitch. Why are the bigger, taller dogs rewarded? Well, we have no dis- qualifications and it is not listed as a major fault, so per- haps the thinking is that bigger is better! However, the Portuguese Water Dog is a moderate dog in all aspects, and all things being equal, the dog that best fits the ideal as stated in the standard, might well be the best choice.

important traits you look for when judging the Portuguese Water Dog? Are you usually fi nding them or not?

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T he Portuguese Water Dog is a working dog and as such is a very physical being—ath- letic, active, exuberant, and full of energy. He is also highly spirited and extremely intelligent. Combine these characteristics with their extraor- dinary stamina and you have a dog not intended for inexperienced dog own- ers nor for those who desire an unob- trusive companion. If you’re looking for a compliant and calm companion, step away from the Portuguese Water Dog! A Portuguese Water Dog requires a serious commitment from its owner in terms of quality time and a willingness to direct this canine’s energies in a posi- tive direction. Read between the lines here—needs training! Leaving a PWD alone to devise his own form of activ- ity is a way of tempting the creative nature of their temperament and can be spelled simply—destruction. They’re a mouthy breed, they were bred to be such, and will always yearn to have something in their mouth, whether it be acceptably one of their toys or unac- ceptably, the legs of your dining room table. Perpetual motion may be a good descriptive phrase for the PWD. They need supervised activities to chan- nel their need to be doing something at all times and to release their inner playfulness. Supervision, training and lots of patience are required of a PWD owner. Also, throw in a sense of humor as they’ll entertain and amuse with their never-ending antics and forever- puppy playfulness. Being “shadowed” by a Portuguese Water Dog is not unusual. They’re “people dogs” as they crave the com- panionship of their humans and have a 24/7 need to be a focal part of fam- ily life. Forget about having alone time for even the most personal of bodily functions—your “shadow” will have no respect for your personal needs. Leave the room for a minute and the welcome you receive upon returning will be tantamount to your having been gone for a year. Coming home to a PWD

Well-knit body, powerful, thickly based tail. Photo courtesy of H. Krogh.

Spirited, highly intelligent. Photo courtesy of Great Dane Photos

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and busy need not apply—they are not the proverbial couch potato. They were bred to be active, strong, spirited and intense. They’re comparable to gifted children and need to be kept busy, both mentally and physically. Portuguese Water Dogs served a valuable and productive purpose in the early days of the fishing industry in Por- tugal. They worked side by side with the fishermen and were a necessary and vital part of a boat’s crew. Their pres- ence on the fishing boats was required by experienced fishermen who rec- ognized their capabilities and valued their contribution to the catch of the day. Herding schools of fish into the nets, dragging nets into place, retriev- ing gear used in the water, guarding the catch and the boats, taking messages in a pouch from boat to boat and from boat to shore were just some of the tasks performed by these able-bodied canine crew members. Saving the life of an overboard fisherman was an add- ed blessing in the repertoire of these canine water wonders. Were it not for the strength of their structure and the soundness of their spirit, the power of their performance would never have claimed a place in history nor encour- aged dog lovers the world over to make every effort to save this breed from the possibility of extinction. The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America has established a series of tests of the dogs’ working abilities and has based each test on the activities required of the breed in their histori- cal function as a fisherman’s crew mate. The PWDCA Water Trial Program has eight skill levels beginning with easier tasks and working up to much more dif- ficult tests. From underwater retrieves to distance swimming to retrieving floating gear to diving off of boats and taking messages to other boats, all on command and most within a time frame, the noble working heritage of the breed is being preserved. A team of an owner and dog go through lengthy training to prepare for the tests. If you haven’t seen these dogs working in the water (put it on your bucket list), you must plan a visit to a Water Trial. It’s exciting and a real eye-opener seeing what these dogs are capable of doing and the spirit with which they tackle their job. Go to and find a national listing of Water Trials, dates and locations. To date, over 4000 Por- tuguese Water Dogs have been awarded Water Titles. The Program is extremely successful, has the support of all Portu- guese Water Dog aficionados and serves to keep the dog in the water—doing what he was bred to do!

Exceptional ability and stamina. Photo courtesy of S. Zgol.

who loves you is a raucous yet endear- ing experience. Their ability to bond with and love their human family is beyond belief. They do NOT do well as a kennel dog. A Portuguese Water Dog who is fortunate enough to share his life with a dedicated, committed and equally intelligent owner is a total joy to be around. Understand the basis of this dog’s behavior, channel it properly and you will indeed be a lucky person. Once a Portuguese Water Dog knows what his behavioral boundaries are he is ever so happy, affectionate, charm- ing, totally devoted and never too far from the food!

Portuguese Water Dogs are the epit- ome of a world class athlete and excel at everything which involves their muscular physique, their spirit and intelligence and their love of all activ- ity. Their innate characteristics contrib- ute greatly to the success of a working team—as long as the owner is smarter and faster than they are! Agility, obedi- ence, flyball, water work, dock diving— you name it, the PWD can do it and do it well. This is not a fat, dumb and lifeless breed that will sit idly and watch life go by. No, these dogs participate in life to the fullest extent of their abilities. Owners who cannot keep them active

Swimmer and diver of exceptional ability. Photo courtesy of Dogmatic Photography.

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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.


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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



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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 Americahasworkedhardtopreserveand 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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