If you are the sort of person who enjoys spending time in and around water and you are looking for a canine companion that would enjoy that sort of environment just as much as you, two breeds worth investigating are the Curly Coated Retriever and the Portuguese Water Dog. Both breeds are among the oldest and both were bred to work and retrieve game in wetlands so they have an affinity with water. The Curly Coated Retriever and the Portuguese Water Dog have also been firm favourites when it comes to family pets and companions too.
As previously mentioned, the Curly Coated is thought to be one of the oldest retrievers having first been introduced to England in the 1800s. The breed was created by crossing St. John's Newfoundlands, Poodles, Labradors, English Water Spaniels and Irish Water Spaniels. These charming hard-working dogs have always been highly prized in the hunting field because they are so adept at retrieving game in the most challenging conditions and over some harsh terrains. Today, Curly Coated Retrievers remain very sought after not only for their retrieving abilities and their good looks, but also because they are renowned for being wonderful companions and loyal family pets.
There are some breed enthusiasts who believe that the Portuguese Water Dog first arrived in Portugal having been introduced to the country by Moorish traders. It is also though that the breed may well share the same lineage as other water dogs seen in Europe back in the day. The breed was highly prized by fishermen in Portugal thanks to fact these dogs have a real affinity with water and would retrieve their nets for them. With this said, the Portuguese Water Dog was only sought after by hunters because they were highly skilled at retrieving game, but they were also used as guard dogs thanks to their protective and loyal natures.
The first written record of the breed was made in the 11th Century by monks when they told the tale of a Portuguese Water Dog saving a drowning sailor. With this said, their origins remain lost in the mists of time, but there is some thought that Poodles, Pulis and Kerry Blue Terriers as well as breeds that originated in Asia may well be in their lineage. Today the Portuguese Water Dog is less well known or seen in the UK although their popularity is slowly rising although very few well-bred, pedigree puppies are registered with the Kennel Club every year.
The Curly Coated Retriever is a handsome, attractive dog that can stand at anything from 64 to 69 cm at the withers with females being a little shorter. They can weight around 32 to 41 kg and again, females tend to be a lighter build than their male counterparts. They have extremely weather-resistant curly coats that consist of crisp tight curls all over their bodies and the accepted breed colours are as follows:
The Portuguese Water Dog is also a handsome dog that can stand at anything between 50 to 57 cm at the withers with females being shorter than their male counterparts. As such, they are slightly shorter than the Curly Coated Retriever. They can weigh around 19 to 25 kg and again, females tend to be that much lighter. They have an athletic build with extremely weather-resistant coats. They come in two varieties with some PWDs having longer and wavier coats and others having harsher, shorter coats that consist of tight curls which cover their entire bodies. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
Easy-going, loyal, well-balance and intelligent, the Curly Coated Retriever has a lot going for them when it comes to their temperament. With this said, they are better suited to people who lead active outdoor lives and who are familiar with the breed rather than novice dog owners. Curly Coated Retrievers take a long time to mature which has to be factored into their training. They only really mature when they are around 3 years old and as such their training can prove challenging because they are known to be quite wilful as they are growing up. They form extremely strong ties with their owners, but can be wary of strangers although rarely would a Curly Coated show any sort of aggression towards people they don't know.
The Portuguese Water Dog has always been highly prized in Portugal thanks to the fact they are such intelligent, loyal and friendly dogs to have around. Always eager to please, a PWD are also known to be independent thinkers and they can be a little stubborn and wilful when the mood takes them. As such, they too are better suited to people who are familiar with their needs rather than first time dog owners. However, in the right hands and environment, a PWD is a please to have around although they don't like to be left on their own for any length of time which often sees these dogs develop a condition known as separation anxiety.
The Curly Coated Retriever tends to shed more hair than the PWD and are rated as moderate shedders. They lose hair throughout the year only more in the spring and the autumn when their new summer and winter coats start to grow through.
The Portuguese Water Dog on the other hand sheds minimally throughout the year, but they too tend to shed the most in the spring and the autumn.
Being so intelligent, the Curly Coated Retriever is quick to learn new things, but their education must start early and it should be consistent throughout a dog's life so they understand what is expected of them. Training session should be short and interesting so that dog's find it easier to stay focused and like many other retrievers, they are quite sensitive by nature which means they do not answer well to any sort of harsh correction or treatment.
Portuguese Water Dogs are also highly intelligent, but it takes time and patience to train them which is why they are better suited to people who are familiar with their needs. Their training must start early and their handling must be consistent so that dogs understand their place in the pack and what an owner expects of them. They excel at many canine sporting activities and are often seen being used as therapy dogs in many different environments because they are known to be reliable and trustworthy. Training sessions should be short and interesting so that a PWD does not get bored which could make it harder to keep them focused on what is being asked of them.
Curly Coated Retrievers like to be kept busy, but they are not overly demanding. With this said, they need a minimum of 2 hours daily exercise with as much off the lead time as possible so dogs can really express themselves as they should.
Portuguese Water Dogs are high energy characters and as such they also need 2 hours daily exercise for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. Because they are so intelligent, they also need a ton of mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in.
Curly Coated Retrievers are good around children providing they have been well brought up. They are better suited to households with older children rather than toddlers because playtime can be a bit boisterous at times. They generally get on well with other dogs if they have been well socialised from a young age and they accept living with a family cat although care should be taken when they are around smaller animals and pets they have never met before.
The Portuguese Water Dogs thrives in a home environment and seem to have a real affinity with children of all ages. With this said, they are known to like to mouth"" anything they come across which includes the kids which is something to bear in mind if there are toddlers in the home. Care should be taken when a PWD is around smaller animals and pets, although if they grow up with a family cat, they generally form strong bonds with each other. Providing a PWD is well socialised from a young age, they usually get on well with other dogs they meet too.
The Curly Coated Retriever can suffer from a few hereditary health issues which includes the following:
The PWD is also known to suffer from several hereditary health concerns which are as follows:
The average life span of a Curly Coated Retriever is between 8 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The average life span of a Portuguese Water Dog is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
When it comes to which of the breeds makes the better family pet, the Portuguese Water Dog has more of an affinity with children of all ages. However, all dogs are different and lots of things go into how a dog matures. This includes how well they have been socialised right from the word go with the breeder and then when they arrive in their new homes. In general, both the Curly Coated Retriever and the Portuguese Water Dog make good family pets, but the PWD gets on better with children of all ages.