Any critic in a dog show will definitely look into the dog’s history when assessing the dog.
Thus, show judges that spot a Portuguese water dog remember that this is a working dog that started out in Portugal. They were bred to accomplish physically demanding work, and the ideal Portie got the job done with his skill, courage, and determination. With that, a judge therefore will get the surprise of his or her life to see a Portie all fixed up as some sort of “glamour” dog, much like a Poodle or some lap dog. Nevertheless, a real show Portie’s coat has been allowed to lie naturally, sans the fluffing and puffing that some do their utmost to pull off on the breed.
Many must be interested as to why the Portuguese water dog is shaved at the rear. As we have hinted above, it is a matter of function. The long coat length at the front shielded the dog from low water temperatures whenever he went diving. Hard as it may seem (harsh, even), it was all in a day’s work if the Portie was told to go under to look for some lost tackle, or some wayward part of the net, or to swim and bring a note to the next boat. The clipped hindquarters, on the other hand, allow the breed ease of movement to propel itself.
This all amounts to a dog not in a lion trim (at least in a show!) sending the signal that he cannot accomplish efficiently the task he was meant for.
Another thing that needs to be reduced when preparing a Portie is mistakes. One such mistake that can be made by a Portuguese water dog owner is that the dog is over trimmed. Indeed, if we will really go by tradition, a “messy”-looking dog will fit in more than a “glamorous”-looking dog.
Furthermore, the dog needs to do away (inasmuch as they look cute) with the tufts of hair half-covering his eyes, since a long fringe would make this dog unable to find its way in the water.
Portuguese fisherman practiced shaving their dogs once a year. This means that long coats that some dogs sport come across as unnatural, and not keeping with tradition.
In sum however, the Portuguese water dog needs to be neat, without tangles or knots, and much more free of hair spray, or any chemical substance for that matter.
As always, we always need to keep going back to the main idea when assessing the dog: what was he bred to do? Sensible and fair-minded judges know how to keep on revisiting the fundamental question.
Richard Cussons is happy to share his knowledge about the Portuguese water dog. Achieve successful portuguese water dog training with these training tips brought to you by portuguesewaterdogsavvy.com.