Courageous, gentle and an excellent ‘fisherman’
The Portuguese water dog was for a long time the fisherman’s inseparable companion, who helped him to fish and defended his boat and property.
Also called the Algarvian water dog, it is little used as a work animal nowadays. Native to this region, and with an uncommonly keen intelligence, these fishing dogs are courageous, affectionate and tireless, with a happy, noble bearing as a result of their robust and muscular bodies.
Water dogs are generally black, and one of their key features is a membrane between its toes which makes them excellent swimmers and divers.
In bygone times, the water dog had a privileged position among the crew and was always ready and alert to the work taking place around it, taking messages from one boat to another, searching for nets torn at sea or pulling on ropes which moored the boats to land.
The great friendship between dog and master meant that they were never sold even though they would fetch a good price. Instead, they were always given away as gifts, indicating that these sweet-natured dogs were priceless.
Despite being so highly prized, purebred water dogs were only a few years ago at risk of becoming extinct. However, the Quinta de Marim in the Ria Formosa Nature Park has not allowed the tradition to die and has opened a kennel to re-establish and breed the Algarvian water dog.