top of page

PWD a brief history

Cao de Agua or Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) or Portie has been around for a long time is without question. There is documented evidence of the breed being around in the 12th century, or at least of a dog which closely resembled the modern PWD being a dog which had  a “black coat of rough hair, cut to the first rib and with a tuft on the tip of his tail.” Hence the  the distinctive and breed defining  ‘Lion cut’.


The dog was originally bred to assist the fishermen and the work it does is unique. It worked on fishing boats from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off Iceland. It was taken out on the fishing boats, and worked as a retriever of tackle that fell or was washed over-board, fish that jumped the nets or line, a life saver, and as a courier from boat to boat or shore as the need arises. A water loving breed, with the distinctive characteristic of webbed feet, helping them to be a strong swimmer and the ability to dive underwater if needed.

The Portuguese Water Dog has very keenly developed senses with a good sense of smell, acute hearing and keen eyesight. Their intense loyalty and sensitivity to the atmosphere around, not forgetting a loud and fairly deep bark, made them useful as a guard on the fisherman's boat. They were highly valued and were treated as part of the crew, receiving a ‘wage’ which took the form of part of the catch. As technology developed the Water Dog’s role diminished and, in the 1960s, it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the rarest breed of pedigree dog. It still remains one of the rarest pedigree dogs in the UK.

bottom of page