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The Portuguese Water Dog

Posted by Isabel Nobre on 3/10/2016

Brief History
Many of you know the Portuguese Waterdog as a funny, goofy, good spirited, very energetic dog. All that is true. But let’s not forget that these dogs have a long and very old history, having worked daily side by side with fishermen. Their job was vital and they actually received a salary for it, in fish nonetheless. In the old days, they were in fact fearless and brave working dogs, a part of a fishing crew with the same vital importance as any other sailor. The early standard of the breed actually describes them as brawlers. Their temperament is now more docile, a great part due to our breeding selection. 
One of the first reports about a Portuguese Waterdog was made by a monk that was rescued by a fisherman back in 1297 AC. His description stated: “The dog had long black hair, shaved to the first rib, and with a tuft at the tip of the tail." A long history indeed. 

The traditional Portuguese Waterdog clip actually serves a purpose. The back is shaved up to the first rib, to help the dog to swim better. The front keeps its coat to protect the rib cage from impact when they jumped into the water also from the water temperature.  The muzzle is shaved to aid the vision. As these dogs swim with the tail up, the plume at the tip of the tail allowed the fishermen to locate their dog inside the water. 

So this clip, that some find a bit peculiar, actually served a purpose back then, and it’s a part of the Portuguese history and tradition. It’s called the Lion trim, because makes the dog appearance similar to a lion. To this day, the FCI Standard’s required trim remains the same. The natural look - with no scissoring or sculpting in any way - is very clear on our FCI Standard, and very important. 

The first PWDs were taken to the USA back in the 1970s, and that’s when things started to change. As we were facing a revolution, many of our dogs vanished and others were sent to the USA. At that time the PWD entered the Guinness Book as the rarest dog breed in the world. It was a sad time for the breed. But because of this dog’s charisma and the effort of many breeders worldwide, today this breed has flourished and no longer faces extinction.


Two clips
Once the PWD arrived the USA, it underwent a major marketing campaign. After all, the breed was facing extinction. That was when the Retriever Clip gained adepts. The cute black teddy bear trim, and the easier maintenance, rapidly gained fame. And it was a great way to bring owners to the Dogs Shows. It worked. 

The Portuguese Waterdog has two varieties of coat, curly and wavy, and three colors, black, brown and white. Both the black and the brown can have white markings.  
In the FCI regulated countries, the Portuguese Waterdog can only have thirty per cent of white markings. 

The ideal coat should not be smooth nor wire; it must have some texture, and that’s what makes for its natural volume. It’s a thick coat which requires some heavy maintenance. 
Discoloration and oxidation, especially in the black coat, can be a serious problem. Once they settle, there’s not much one can do.  But with the right care and maintenance, they can be prevented. 

Differences between AKC and FCI

Many of you may noticed that there are lots of differences between the ways the PWD is groomed across the Atlantic. In the AKC scissoring is allowed and recommended, and in the FCI it’s not. It’s that simple. Pros and cons and some differences of opinion, both valid, have been made through the ages but the country of origin remains firm to the preservation of the natural look that a working dog must have. 


Since we have two types of coat, the products used in their maintenance can differ.
One thing is similar in all varieties and colors, the bathing frequency. It’s the best way to prevent discoloration, oxidation, hair breakage and matting. The bath is the most important part of any breed’s care, especially on a high maintenance breed such as the Portuguese Waterdog. A bath once a week is ideal, but it can be done more often depending on the dog’s lifestyle - if he swims a lot, gets muddy, etc. Dirt and salt water can damage the coat, so in those cases baths should be even more frequent. 

The Lion trim, in the FCI Countries, it’s the easiest trim to do. Every 4 weeks we shave the back starting at the last rib, and the muzzle, and that’s it. The most time consuming part is the actually the bath and the drying. It’s also very important to preserve and quality of the coat because of its length. The products we use and a good maintenance routine are very important to prevent breakage of the coat.   When the coat grows, some minor trimming may be needed to give it some shape. Keep in mind that you can only use thinners in the FCI regulated countries. Scissoring can be penalized. Natural, natural, natural – that’s our mantra. 
Regarding the Lion trim, the AKC Standard states that the coat is trimmed at least three inches long all over. The back is also shaved from the last rib back (precisely as the FCI Standard). 
The Retriever clip (AKC) should not be longer than one inch all over. And the ideal maintenance should be every 4 to 6 weeks. 
In both clips the plume in the end of the tail (1/3 of the tail) should be kept long and natural.

Despite the differences between the FCI and AKC trims, their maintenance is not that different. The main difference is how long we clip and what look we want to achieve.  




Pure Paws Products
For maintenance between shows 

Wavy Coats 

> Factor Zero + H2O Shampoo + H2O Conditioner + H2O Mist (when the coat needs to shine, good for very thick coats that tend to lose brightness) 
> Factor Zero + Reconstructing Shampoo + Reconstructing Conditioner + Reconstructing Spray (regular) 
> Factor Zero + Forte Shampoo+ Forte Conditioner+ Forte Conditioner (when coats need to grow) 

Show day 
> Factor Zero + Brightening Shampoo + silk mask (diluted) + star line finishing spray + H2O spray -just for shine right before the ring. 
> Amplify Root Lift – just below the neck, coat tends to create a concavity in that area
> Magic white on the white markings 

Curly coats
> Factor Zero+ H2O Shampoo + H2O Conditioner + H2O Mist 
(when the coat needs to shine, good for very thick coats that tend to lose brightness) 

> Factor Zero + Forte Shampoo + Forte Conditioner + Forte Spray 

Show Day 
> Factor Zero + H2O Shampoo + H2O Conditioner+ Finishing Spray + H2O Mist for shine
> Magic White on the white markings

Or if it needs volume (to scissor Curly AKC Standard) 
> Factor Zero + Amplify Shampoo + Amplify Conditioner + Finishing Spray 
> Magic White on the white markings 

Puppies and Seniors 
>Factor Zero + Oats and Aloe Shampoo + Oats and Aloe Conditioner + Oats and Aloe Spray 

Brown Coat Maintenance
> Factor Zero + Golden Magic Shampoo + Golden Magic Conditioner + Reconstructing Spray

White Maintenance
> Factor Zero + White Magic Shampoo + White Magic Conditioner + Reconstructing Spray 

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