In Portugal the Water Dog is known as Cao de Agua. Historical theory finds our Water Dog on the development road from the central Asiatic steppes as early as 700 B.C. to the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th Century; and on to the British coastline as working crew of the ships on the Spanish Armada in 1588.
These seafaring working dogs carried messages between ships and ship to shore, and stood watch in the bow, barking warning of danger in the surrounding fog. In his homeland the working Water Dog thrived as courier between fishing boats. He dove fearlessly into the sea to retrieve broken nets and tackle gone overboard, and was a loyal friend to the fisherman and his family.
Modern marine technology - radar, radio communications and equipment - caused he near extinction of the Portuguese Water Dog. The sturdy, medium-sized, highly intelligent canine was displaced by modern fishing methods.
The breed has been preserved in America through the combined efforts of the 16 people who formed the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc. In August, 1972. At that time there were less than 25 known Water Dogs throughout the world. The founders and members of the PWDCA united to revive the breed and secure strong, healthy foundation stock.
On June 5, 1981, when the Water Dog was admitted to the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class, more than 500 dogs lived in the United States. On January 1, 1984, the Water Dog became eligible to compete in the AKC Working Group.