At Home on Land and in Water: A Breed Guide to the Portuguese Water Dog

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Carrie Pallardy
The Portuguese Water Dog might not be as a big of a name as a Golden Retriever or a Cocker Spaniel in the canine world, but two of the breed brought fame to the name in the White House. The Obama family welcomed Bo to the White House in 2009. Bo was joined by Sunny in 2013. Learn more about the history and characteristics of Porties, as they are affectionately known.

Before the White House

Portuguese Water Dogs have been living happily alongside humans long before Bo and Sunny set foot in the White House. As the name suggests, these dogs hail from Portugal. Their history dates back centuries, with their first appearance in writing going all the way back to 1297, according to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.
These faithful dogs served as companions to fisherman working along the coast of Portugal, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). While many of dogs of the modern breed live happy lives as pets, some continue to work and honor their ancestor’s careers in the water. In the 2000s, Porties helped to retrieve baseballs the San Francisco Giants hit out of the park and into the water of McCovey Cove. Today, these dogs are still used to help with water rescue, according to the AKC.

Physical Characteristics

Porties are medium-sized dogs. Males weigh 42 to 60 pounds, while females are smaller at 35 to 50 pounds, according to The Spruce Pets. Owners can expect the breed to live 11 to 13 years, according to the AKC.
Portuguese Water Dogs have fluffy coats that come in a few different colors, including black, white, and brown. The breed can have coats with markings in all three shades. The coat is made up of a single layer of soft, curly fur that results in minimal shedding.

The Portie Personality

Porties are born people pleasers. They respond well to training, eager to show off their skills. This high trainability is paired with a high level of energy. Daily physical activity is an important of the routine for a Portuguese Water Dog. These dogs love to run, swim and flex their agility skills. They also need regular mental stimulation to keep them happy.

Porties as Pets

The breed is known to get along with children and other pets. Porties are affectionate pets who love to spend time with their people. If you are looking for a playful dog to fit into your active lifestyle, a Portuguese Water Dog could be the perfect fit. The Portuguese Water Dog Rescue and Relocation Program helps to place pups of this breed in loving homes, and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America also offers resources for people looking to find a Portie of their own.

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