Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog, colloquially known as a Portie, is a water spaniel breed of gun dog. Portuguese Water Dogs once existed all along Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. Portuguese Water Dogs rode in bobbing fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the cold Atlantic waters of Portugal to the frigid fishing waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod to bring home.

In Portugal, the breed is called Cão d'Água (pronounced Kown-d'Ahgwa; literally "water dog"). In its native land, the dog is also known as the Portuguese Fishing Dog (Cão Pescador Português). Cão de Água de Pêlo Ondulado is the name given the wavy-haired variety, and Cão de Água de Pêlo Encaracolado is the name for the curly-coated variety.

The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed; only 15 entrants for Portuguese Water Dogs were made to England's Crufts competition in 2002. Though some breeders claim they are a hypoallergenic dog breed, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim . However, their non-shedding qualities have made them more popular in recent years.

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