The Portuguese Water Dog (cão de água) was bred specifically to round up fish. It can easily be trained to herd fish into fishermen’s nets.
Originating in the Steppes around 700BC it was probably brought to Portugal via the Goths. It is similar to a poodle in appearance but it has amazing fishing skills.
The Portuguese Water Dog has a lot of energy and is adept at rounding up fish in the water. It was also used as a courier to carry fishermen’s equipment between boats and the shore or to rescue any equipment that fell overboard. Some historians even claim that the Portuguese Water Dog was used to carry messages equipment between the ships of the Spanish Armada.
Even in the 20th century in Algarve, Portugal, the dogs were still an essential part of the fisherman’s team. But due to a decline in fishing the Portuguese Water Dog looked set to disappear and by 1960 there were only 50 dogs left. However, thanks to a successful breeding programme the Portuguese Water Dog was saved from extinction and today there are more than 10,000.
Portuguese Water Dog Features:
- Sturdy, energetic, powerful, courageous – Necessary traits to swim for hours against wind, waves and riptides
- Stamina – Water dogs were bred to work from dawn to dusk helping the fishermen
- Strong thick tail – Used as a rudimentary rudder
- Webbed feet and strong stout legs – For swimming
- Love of water – A daily 20 minute swim or run is recommended!
- Thick wavy hair that does not shed – The PWD’s hypoallergenic quality was one of the reasons President Obama chose their PWD (called Bo), as his daughter is allergic to dog hair. Because it does not shed you you must remember to cut the dog’s hair otherwise it will just keep growing!
Other water dogs:
Portuguese Water Dogs aren’t the only animals into fishing. Check out this Golden Retriever’s mad skillz!