THE PORTUGUESE WATER DOG A HANDS ON APPROACH By Virginia Santoli I n its corporation document, the first stated purpose of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America is “To recognize the Portuguese as a working water dog that possess the appearance,
soundness, temperament, natural ability, and personality as described in the breed standard and to do all possible to advance and promote the perfection of these quali- ties in the responsible breeding of purebred Portuguese Water Dogs.” People are attracted to the Portu- guese Water Dog because of its utilitarian nature, non-shedding coat, moderate size and overall appearance. It could be con- sidered a Jack-of-all-Trades, but unlike the rest of the saying, it can master many. Its intelligence and demanding nature can be di ffi cult for an owner unwilling or unable to devote enough time to exercising the mind and body of their Portuguese Water Dog. Being independent thinkers, Portu- guese Water Dogs respond well to con- sistent and positive reinforcement and to an owner who is firm yet gentle and who takes the lead as head of the house. Th ey are true working dogs but at the same time are a ff ectionate and playful companions often exhibiting comic mischief in their antics. Maintaining the link to their his- toric duties, they are also often good watch dogs for their homes and alert to visitors whether expected or unexpected. Th e structure as defined by the AKC standard describes an athletic dog able to do a day’s work with the fishermen of Por- tugal. But this structure also allows the breed to do well in many areas of compe- tition. In addition to conformation titles, Portuguese Water Dogs have attained and continue to attained titles in the high- est levels of Agility, Obedience, Rally-O and Tracking competitions and of course water work as demonstrated in the water trials sponsored by the Portuguese Water
Dog Club of America to showcase the breeds historic purpose. Best of all, a large percentage of conformation Champions also have advanced level Companion Event and PWDCA Water Trial titles to their credit. To attain accomplishments in all these areas of competition, the Por- tuguese Water Dog must be true to its standard; a dog of balance and strength, intelligence and drive.
In understanding the written standard, one needs to envision the words coming to life on land and, perhaps even more-so, in the water. When evaluating the major char- acteristics and fine points of the Portuguese Water Dog, one should not only use their eyes to see the dog; more importantly they should use their hands to feel the dog under their coat. An experienced groomer can hide faults while an inexperienced groomer
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