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All About Portugal | January 18, 2021

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The Portuguese water dog

The Portuguese Water Dog
Clara Campos

The Portuguese water dog rechead worldwide famed after President Obama chose one to be the official White House pet. However, in Portugal these dogs are on top of our preferences for long.

Cherished in Portugal for centuries, the Portuguese water dog conquered worldwide stardom when President Barak Obama chose a puppy of this breed to be the official White House pet. According to the press Bo – so was named the puppy – was offered by Senator Ted Kennedy who had lobbied for this breed mainly because they are known for their high spirits and for being suitable for children with allergies as it happens with Malya, one of the President´s daughters.
Obama's Portuguese water dog
The oldest known record of this breed of dogs native to Portugal is a painting from 1828 of King Miguel´s landing at Belém, which portraits a dog similar to a Portuguese water dog swimming towards the ships. However, there are evidences that these dogs already existed in Roman times and that they were called “Lion Dogs” due to their hair.
As Portuguese water dogs are excellent swimmers they used to work alongside with Portuguese fishermen and were considered part of the crew. According to the Dog Breed Information center site, Portuguese water dogs worked herding and catching fish, retrieving broken nets or anything that fell into the water, carrying messages from one ship to the other or from ship to shore and even guarded the boats in foreign ports.
In the 1930s technology invaded the Portuguese fishing activity, replacing the dogs in many chores, which led to a severe drop on the breed’s numbers and the dogs were almost extinguished. Fortunately, Vasco Bensaude, a wealthy Portuguese, initiated a breeding program to save the breed with the help of two friends, the veterinarians Francisco Pinto Soares and Manuel Marques, which soon presented results.
Mostly thanks to those men efforts nowadays we may enjoy the company of these magnificent dogs known for their loyalty. They are the perfect buddies for children and adults alike as they love to play, are joyful, amusing and tender. Portuguese water dogs are also highly intelligent and keen to learn, thus easy trainable if you draw the limits with firmness otherwise they may try to assume power and the leadership.


  1. Must be a good breed of dog to be chosen by the first family.

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