The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was founded in 1972. Its Bylaws include a mission of encouraging and promoting quality in the breeding of purebred Portuguese Water Dogs and doing all possible to bring their natural qualities to perfection. Other important objectives include encouraging members and breeders to accept the AKC approved breed standard as the only standard of excellence by which Portuguese Water Dogs shall be judged.
A breed standard is written for every recognized purebred dog. Ours was originally developed under the auspices of Dr. Bensaude in the 1930s in Portugal. His Algharborium line had the earliest Portuguese Water Dogs registered with the Clube Portugues De Canicultura, which was and is Portugal's kennel club. The original standard has been translated and minimally revised and still defines exactly what the Portuguese Water Dog's conformation is to look like based on the work for which the dog was bred.
The Portuguese Water Dog was a loyal companion who accompanied the fisherman aboard his boat. The dog was required to spend long hours working in a variety of ways such as helping with fishing lines or, before the advent of radio, the dog would courier messages from boat to boat or boat to shore. When visiting foreign ports, the Portuguese Water Dog was left to guard the boat and its catch.
Our standard reflects the original fisherman's dog: robust, medium sized, athletic-a dog who even today is capable of long periods of exercise and has excellent swimming ability. Only dogs that are particularly good examples of the breed, as defined by the standard, should be considered for breeding.
PWDCA protects and maintains the good health of the breed by establishing ethical breeding practices and by promoting participation in a variety of health programs. In short, breeding dogs sound in mind and body that conform to the breed standard is a basic responsibility of PWDCA member breeders.
In the 1970s, when our breed was quite rare, many Portuguese Water Dogs were used for breeding. Today more than 10,000 Portuguese Water Dogs are registered around the world, so there is no longer a need to breed any other than the healthiest, most correct dogs. As the standard says, "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."