The Portuguese Water Dog once existed all along Portugal’s coast, where it was taught to herd fish into the nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as a courier from ship to ship, or ship to shore. Portuguese Water Dogs rode in bobbing trawlers as they worked their way from the warm Atlantic waters of Portugal to the frigid fishing waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught saltwater codfish to bring home.
The Portuguese Water Dog was admitted to the Miscellaneous class on June 3, 1981. Three months later, the breed had its first Obedience champion, Spindrift Kedge. The Portuguese Water Dog was accepted for registration in AKC stud books effective August 1, 1983, and became eligible to compete in the show rings as a member of the Working Group, effective January 1, 1984.
In Portugal the breed is called Cao de Agua (pronounced Kown-d’Ahgwa). Cao means dog, de Agua means of water. In his native land, the dog is also known as the Portuguese Fishing Dog. Cao de Agua de Pelo Ondulado is the name given the long-haired variety, and Cao de Agua de Pelo Encaradolado is the name for the curly-coat variety.