The Portuguese Water Dog is unlike many other breeds because he was not a companion dog to begin with; instead, the Portuguese Water Dog was a working dog. But he differs from other working dog breeds in that his job was not on a farm or ranch, or even in the city. The Portuguese Water Dog's job was a on a fishing boat.
The Portuguese Water Dog was primarily a retriever; he would be sent into the water to retrieve fishing gear, to haul nets, and even to get fish. But the advent of complicated fishing technologies ruined the career of the Portuguese Water Dog, and he was eventually replaced by winches and hydraulic pulley systems.
At this point in his life, the Portuguese Water Dog almost became extinct. He was not needed as a working dog any longer, so he was not bred. Fortunately for the millions of happy Portuguese Water Dog owners today, the breed was not eliminated. The breed experienced resurgence and the dog changed careers from a fisherman to a friend.
As a companion, this dog is wonderful. He is as affectionate and cuddly as he looks, and he makes a superior family pet. The Portuguese Water Dog loves children, and can be trusted with children of any age. He is very happy when he is playing with the family, and even prefers to be with his master or family to being separated or alone. This is often contrary to the temperament of many working dog breeds; however, the Portuguese Water Dog spent so much time surrounded by people on fishing boats that he prefers the company of humans to solidarity.
Another great companion quality of the Portuguese Water Dog is his keen intellect and his bark. He makes a good watch dog, and is very wary of his home and its surroundings; with his mighty bark the Portuguese Water Dog can easily alert the family to any potential threats. Another great aspect linked to the breed's intelligence and bark is his expressive voice and his personality. The dog has a sense of humor of sorts, making him fun to play and romp with; his bark will express his emotions, and he can "talk" with his owners. He often greets his master with a toy and a laugh-like panting bark that is welcoming and inviting.
It is important to note that the Portuguese Water Dog is one that needs a lot of exercise and needs it daily. Since he is a working dog, he is not happy being a couch potato. He wants to play and run with the family or with his master, and this is important not only for his health but also for his behavior. If he is not exercised properly, the Portuguese Water Dog will become destructive.