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 PWDCA.org 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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