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PWD Grooming 

Why do they have a shaved bottom?


The Portuguese Water Dog boasts having a single, but an extremely thick and water-resistant coat. Even though they are low shedding dogs, they are high maintenance on the grooming front because their coats need a daily brush to prevent any mats or tangles from forming which is particularly true of longer, wavy coated dogs. It takes careful attention and time to keep on top of the grooming. If not carefully and regularly groomed wavy hair is likely to mat and ‘felt’. If you do not keep on top of grooming the coat can and will become matted and uncomfortable for the dog. New owners must not underestimate the importance of good grooming and must consider the regular cost of grooming unless they are willing to do it themselves. We are more than willing to advise and help.

People often mistake the fact that they are low shedding with being low maintenance. They say they will be ideal dogs to fit into their busy lives as they don't need so much brushing.  How wrong they are. The fact that they low-shedding actually means that you need to spend more time brushing your dog. 

The Portuguese Water Dog, like Poodles and other low shedding breeds, needs to be clipped or scissored on a regular basis. Their coat will continue to grow longer and longer until it becomes unmanageable. You can learn to clip your dog yourself or take them to a professional groomer regularly. The latter can become costly; so many owners opt to learn to groom themselves. It pays, in the long run, to purchase a good dog clipper, and keep it maintained. Even if you choose to have your dog clipped by a professional, you will find a good pair of scissors at home for tidying to be useful. Expect to pay £40+ per clip every 8 weeks  if your PWD is professionally groomed.

People often ignore brushing their dog every day and leave it up to the groomer every 8 weeks. This is always too late as the groomer finds it hard to de-mat and the dog finds it an uncomfortable and sometimes frightening experience. You will need to brush your dog on a regular basis - all the way down to the skin and not just the top layer. If you can't dedicate the time - don't get a PWD.

Portuguese water dogs come in two different coat types:

  • 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. All of our dogs are wavy coats.


For both types of the coat there are two different styles that Portuguese Water Dogs can be trimmed:


Retriever trim: This blended-Retriever trim is an everyday, family-friendly coat. (Think Chester)

​To achieve this trim, they will need to be either clipped or scissored every 6-8-10 weeks. This can be done by a professional groomer, or, if the owner is willing to learn how to do this, can be done by them.  To maintain this trim, the coat needs to be brushed and combed on a regular basis each week. The retriever trim involves all of the hair on the body to be the same length with the first 2/3 of the tail shaved and only the last 1/3 at the end of the tail to be kept it's natural length. This is their characteristic "Flag" tail. The muzzle should be shorter than the body. A short muzzle keeps the dog clean and easier to brush and groom and free from matting. Many owners like the hair left long on the muzzle or the teddy-bear look - but it is essential it is kept free of food and brushed regularly to stop knots and mats becoming uncomfortable. 


The length of coat for this type of trim all depends on owner’s preference. It is often cut about 1” but would also be possible to cut far shorter or to keep the natural length all over the body and  just trim the face & feet.


Lion clip: The working cut and UK breed standard if you wish to show. (Think Holly, Jasmine & Rafferty)

The lion clip involves keeping the entire coat it’s natural length but clipping the muzzle and rear end (from last rib cage) short. Similar to the retriever clip, the 1/3 of the end of the tail needs to be kept natural too. The lion clip is easy to achieve, however, needs more maintaining than the retriever trim with it needing to be combed daily or at least several times a week.  This cut takes some getting used to, especially if you don’t like being the centre of attention as you walk down the street, but it does look fantastic when they run.

Why the Lion Cut?

There are very few pedigree dogs and hardly any working dogs, where the breed standard insists on the dog being cut to a particular shape or design. At first, it does look rather odd, but when you understand why it was cut this way you will realise that this unique cut is designed and fit for their specific purpose as fishermen's dogs. If it didn't have a true purpose then a busy fisherman would not have bothered to have cut their dog in a Lion Cut. 

Why cut back quarters?  Simply to allow the hindquarters free movement to swim. If you have ever fallen into the water from a boat or canoe and tried to swim and then climb back in with wet, water sodden trousers you will understand. Cutting the hair removes the weight of waterlogged hair.

Why long hair at the front? To keep the vital organs of heart and lungs warm in the water. The water in the Algarve is not as warm as you think.

Why the shaved muzzle? Imagine a working dog fed on raw fish - long muzzle hair would end up in a rather dirty, stinky dog. You will soon realise this when a PWD wants to wipe its face on your leg after a meal - not pleasant. Many people like the long look - but it is essential you regularly groom the face to stop uncomfortable matting.

Tuft left at the end of the tail? This to me is the really interesting part of the cut. If the hair was long along the entire length of the tail then it lies flat in the water. Shave 2/3 of the tail, leaving the last 1/3 long then the tail stands out of the water - allowing the fishermen to see their dog in the water - hence the dogs characteristic "Flag tail". 

How you have your dog cut is entirely up to you. Most people opt to have it shaved in the retriever clip as it is more manageable. However, as a nod to its Portuguese fishing heritage, we always shave the muzzle and keep the flag tail. It separates them from being called cockerpoos or ladradoodles. 

Ear Hair: It is also important to understand that hair grows inside the ear canal of this breed. It is worse in some PWD than others. Chester is far worse than Jasmine. This can lead to discomfort and if not kept under control can lead to ear infections (ear smells of yeast). This means that ear-hair plucking may have to be done on a regular basis which can be done either by the owner or a professional groomer. We can show you how.


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