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.:

General Appearance

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


Neck, Topline, Body


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:

No preference will be given to coat type, either curly or wavy.


Two clips are acceptable:

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 balanced movement.


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.

Summary Statement

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.

Major Faults

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 Home Page