Is the Portuguese Water Dog a Glamour Dog?


Jane Anderson

Whether you are a judge, or a serious connoisseur of any breed, you will appreciate how important it is to know the history of a breed if you are assessing it.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a working dog. They were bred to perform a number of strenuous tasks that required skill, courage, and determination.

Regardless of how the dog is presented for the showring, the undermining thought of any judge is, “can this dog do the job it was supposed to be able to do.”

The days have well and truly disappeared in most countries where you could display the breed in a more natural looking coat. Realistically in most parts of the world now, if you don’t display this dog fully blown out and scissored to within a millimeter, you’re unlikely to be considered – except in some parts of northern Europe.

Why are they shaved at the rear?
Good question – this is purely a functional requirement of this working breed. The length of coat was needed at the front for the dog to be protected from thermal shock when it dived into the water, and the clipped hindquarters was required to allow the breed freedom of movement to drive through the water.
This means that a dog that is not in a lion trim could not perform the work it was bred to do.

Mistakes people make
The Portuguese Water Dog should only ever be shown in Australia in a lion trim. It is incorrect for a dog to be shown here any other way. Dogs shown in any other trim should be non-awarded.
The dog should not be over trimmed. If the dog appears “messy” than that is more correct than a dog that appears “glamorous”. A dog shown in Australia recently was referred to in a report as being groomed within an inch of its life. This can only indicate that the dog was groomed incorrectly. Did the Portuguese fishermen groom their dogs like this? The answer, of course, is no.

The dog should be clean, and free from knots, but it should not have hair spray, hair dye, or perfume put in the coat which is happening in some instances.

Function over Form
The key to judging any dog is to assess the dog along what it was bred to do. Good judges will always revert back to the fundamental question: based on how this dog is presented today, “could it do the job that it was traditionally bred to do?”
So in the case of the Portuguese Water Dog – a dog in an incorrect trim would be unable to perform the work it was required to do as per tradition.

Additionally – the dog should not have masses of fringe over its eyes, as with a long fringe it would be unable to see its way to do its job.

Portuguese fisherman shaved off the dogs annually. Hence, the long coats that some breeders keep their dogs in, is, of course, unnatural, and not keeping with tradition.

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