Revised Standard for the Portuguese Water Dog
The Board of Directors of The American Kennel Club has approved the
following revised Standard for the Portuguese Water Dog as submitted by the
Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc.:
Known for centuries along Portugal's coast, this seafaring breed was prized
by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build
that allowed for a full day's work in and out of the water. The Portuguese
Water Dog is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who
aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish,
and carrying messages between boats and to shore. He is a loyal companion
and alert guard. This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished
by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable
breadth and well proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a
powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a
rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of
strength, spirit, and soundness.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size - Height at the withers
- Males, 20 to 23 inches. The ideal is 22 inches.
- Females, 17 - 21 inches. The ideal is 19 inches.
- Weight - For males, 42 to 60 pounds; for females, 35 - 50 pounds.
- Proportion - Off square; slightly longer than tall when measured
from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks, and from withers
- Substance - Strong substantial bone; well developed, neither refined
nor coarse, and a solidly built, muscular body.
- An essential characteristic; distinctively large, well proportioned
and with exceptional breadth of topskull.
- Expression - Steady, penetrating, and attentive.
- Eyes - Medium in size, set well apart, and a bit obliquely. Roundish
and neither prominent nor sunken. Black or various tones of brown in
color. Darker eyes are preferred. Eye rims fully pigmented with
black edges in black, black and white, or white dogs; brown edges in
brown dogs. Haws are dark and not apparent.
- Ears - Set well above the line of the eye. Leather is heart shaped
and thin. Except for a small opening at the back, ears are held
nicely against the head. Tips should not reach below the lower jaw.
- Skull - In profile, it is slightly longer that the muzzle, its
curvature more accentuated at the back than in the front. When
viewed head-on, the top of the skull is very broad and appears
domed, with a slight depression in the middle. The forehead is
prominent, and has a central furrow, extending two-thirds of the
distance from stop to occiput. The occiput is well defined.
- Stop - Well defined.
- Muzzle - Substantial; wider at the base than at the nose.
- Jaws - Strong and neither over nor undershot.
- Nose - Broad, well flared nostrils. Fully pigmented; black in dogs
with black, black and white, or white coats; various tones of brown
in dogs with brown coats.
- Lips - Thick, especially in front; no flew. Lips and mucous
membranes of the roof of the mouth, under tongue, and gums are quite
black, or well ticked with black in dogs with black, black and
white, or white coats; various tones of brown in dogs with brown
- Bite - Scissors or level.
- Teeth - Not visible when the mouth is closed. Canines strongly
Neck, Topline, Body
- Neck - Straight, short, round, and held high. Strongly muscled. No
- Topline - Level and firm.
- Body - Chest is broad and deep, reaching down to the elbow. Ribs are
long and well-sprung to provide optimum lung capacity. Abdomen well
held up in a graceful line. Back is broad and well muscled. Loin is
short and meets the croup smoothly. Croup is well formed and only
slightly inclined with hip bones hardly apparent.
- Tail - Not docked; thick at the base and tapering; set on slightly
below the line of the back; should not reach below the hock. When
the dog is attentive the tail is held in a ring, the front of which
should not reach forward of the loin. The tail is of great help when
swimming and diving.
Shoulders are well inclined and very strongly muscled. Upper arms are
strong. Forelegs are strong and straight with long, well muscled forearms.
Carpus is heavy-boned, wider in front than at the side. Pasterns are long
and strong. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet are round and rather flat. Toes
neither knuckled up nor too long. Webbing between the toes is of soft skin,
well covered with hair, and reaches the toe tips. Central pad is very thick,
others normal. Nails held up slightly off the ground. Black, brown, white
and striped nails are allowed.
Powerful; well balanced with front assembly. Legs, viewed from the rear, are
parallel to each other, straight and very strongly muscled in upper and
lower thighs. Buttocks are well developed. Tendons and hocks are strong.
Metatarsus long, no dewclaws. Feet similar in all respects to forefeet.
A profuse, thickly planted coat of strong, healthy hair, covering the whole
body, evenly, except where the forearm meets the brisket and in the groin
area, where it is thinner. No undercoat , mane or ruff. There are two
varieties of coat:
- 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.
No preference will be given to coat type, either curly or wavy.
Two clips are acceptable:
- Lion Clip - As soon as the coat grows long, the middle part and
hindquarters, as well as the muzzle are clipped. The hair at the end
of the tail is left at full length.
- Retriever Clip - In order to give a natural appearance and a smooth
unbroken line, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to follow the
outline of the dog, leaving a short blanket of coat no longer than
one inch in length. The hair at the end of the tail is left at full
No discrimination will be made against the correct presentation of a dog in
either Lion clip or Retriever Clip.
Black, white, and various tones of brown; also combinations of black or
brown with white. A white coat does not imply albinism provided nose, mouth,
and eyelids are black. in animals with black, white, or black and white
coats, the skin is decidedly bluish.
Short, lively steps when walking. The trot is a forward striding, well
An animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to
fatigue. A dog of exceptional intelligence and a loyal companion, it obeys
its master with facility and apparent pleasure. It is obedient with those
who look after it or with those for whom it works.
The Portuguese Water Dog is spirited yet obedient, robust, and of
unexaggerated, functional conformation; sure, substantially boned and
muscled, and able to do a full day's work in and out of the water.
Any deviation from the described ideal is a fault. However, those inherent
characteristics that are imperative for the maintenance of proper type, and
therefore cannot be overlooked, are listed as Major Faults.
- Temperament - Shy, vicious, or unsound behavior.
- Head - Unimpressive; small in overall size; narrow in topskull;
snippy in muzzle.
- Substance - Light or refined in bone; lacking in muscle.
- Coat - Sparse; naturally short, close-lying hair, partially or
overall; wispy or wiry in texture; brittle; double-coated.
- Tail - Other than as described. Extremely low set. heavy or droopy
- Pigment - Any deviation from described pigmentation; other than
black or various tones of brown eye color; pink or partial
pigmentation in nose, lips, eyes, or eye rims.
- Bite - Overshot or undershot.
Approved January 15, 1991
Effective February 27, 1991
Copyright (c) 1996 The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc.
Last Updated: November 15, 1996
Return to the