This dog of water swims like an otter, but would stay on dry land if it means playing with his loved ones.


Porties, as they're called for short, are all-purpose water dogs. They were originally used in Portugal to herd fish into nets, retrieve nets or lost equipment, or deliver messages between boats or from boats to shore. They were known in Portugal as the Cao de Agua, or dog of water.

The breed is traditionally clipped in either the lion clip, in which the back half is shaved except for a tuft on the tail; or in the retriever clip, in which the coat is cut uniformly all over.

The most famous Portie is Bo, President Obama's dog. Like all Porties, he's exuberant and playful. Chances are he has more toys than he could ever play with, and in typical Portie fashion, still wants more.


Many people take their Portie to be professionally groomed, but you still need to do your part at home. Use a pin brush or metal comb to gently work through the coat in layers, making sure to reach all the way to the skin. When brushing or combing, spritz the coat lightly with a combination of water and conditioner; this prevents static electricity and breakage. Tease apart any mats, spraying them with a detangler or conditioner.

You may need to bathe between groomer visits. Use a deodorizing shampoo if your Portie tends to get smelly. If your dog tends to scratch, use an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoo. Or use a color-enhancing shampoo. Follow with a conditioner. You can let the coat air dry into ringlets, or blow it dry while brushing it for a full coat.

Check your Portie's ears weekly for signs of infection. Apply an ear cleanser weekly and after swimming. Such cleansers change the pH of the ear canal to make it less hospitable to fungus and yeast, and also have a bacteria-killing and ear drying effect. Any time you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal. But never put any cleanser or medication in a severely infected or painful ear because of the possibility of a ruptured ear drum.

Brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.

Porties love to run and swim well into old age, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, can slow them down. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.