A working dog


You’ll notice when you read through this site, I mention several times that the Portuguese Water Dog is a working dog.

So what does this actually mean?

I am seeking to clarify what “working dog” means because I’m pretty sure when I’m talking to people and I say this, many don’t understand.  Some even follow that up with, “yep I know – I want one because they are so calm and gentle.”


Ok, so let’s talk about working dog traits.  I am going to compare them with other working dogs that I’ve had experience with.  Keep in mind, I run a small boarding kennel (raw fed of course) where I get to work with and look after a number of different breeds.

From my experience, the most active dogs are:

  1. Kelpie (seriously, you couldn’t pay me to own one of these)
  2. Border collie – from working lines, not one of the panda like things that are being produced in some show dog lines
  3. Koolie (rarer, but with an amazing working drive)
  4. Brittany Spaniels
  5. German Shorthaired Pointers (and variations thereof)
  6. Anything that is a poodle cross, normally called a doodle of some sort
  7. Belgian Malanois – this should probably be number 1.  Do not get one unless you are training it to be a police dog or a military dog – and you are currently in active service.  These dogs are not for amateurs and with all my dog experience I would never get one.

The Portuguese Water Dog would come after these in my opinion, as active as labradors (not the ones like produced for the guide dog programs that have all the personality of a loaf of bread – because that’s how they need to be and that is a good thing!)

The pictures below are of an awesome dog (The Dude) I sent to my friend Mia (who took these photos) in Finland.  What some people think is that the dog is always like the first picture, which we’ll agree is supercute.  But in order to get the super cute calm dog, you need to do just some of the activities that you can see The Dude is doing.  Now if you’re into these sorts of activity, you’re going to be super excited about these pictures.  If you prefer to spend your days on video games, facebook, and lounging, this is probably not what you want to see:


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If you don’t seriously exercise a working dog, and ensure their mental needs are taken care of, then they will become a total nuisance.  And you will be the person with the dog that everyone wants to avoid at the dog park. The bad behaviours you are guaranteed to see include:

  • fence jumping, barking, destructive (like a cyclone), nipping (humans and other dogs), and separation anxiety amongst other things.

Oh, and if you have accidentally let these behaviours manifest, then I don’t have any magic wand to fix them.  They can be fixed, but with approximately 100 times more work than it would have taken to get it right initially.  Happy to have a magic wand if you can give me a pink unicorn at the same time.  I need things that match after all.

You need to be realistic about how much work you can put into a dog such as this.  (there are probably other dogs that would make that list above, but I need to talk about those breeds where I have substantial experience rather than give you distilled information from someone else that may or may not be correct).

I am going to add a lot more info to this page, but what I will say to you now is, as a pre-warning:

I will drive you insane before you get one of my pups talking about training, work, discipline, etc.  Yes I will want to know where you’re going to be attending dog training, which night of the week, what time, and who is going.  I will also want you to report on what you think of the trainer.

You can pre-empt this by coming to our first initial meeting having done all that homework.  Trust me, I will be impressed.

We do not just place our dogs with anyone who has the cash.  This is about making sure this breed is right for your lifestyle and needs, and that we are the right breeder for you.

Let me know your comments below.




2 thoughts on “A working dog

  1. Marion Liberati

    Wonderful. Your writing is clear, concise and organized. The information is from your personal experience. Any potential PWD puppy adopter would benefit from reading this when seeking a new family member.

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