In recent years, PWD enthusiasts have been able to come up with many versatile looks for their Portuguese Water Dogs. Sometimes it is even hard to imagine that it is actually the same dog. In the show ring, there are not a few observers who have mistaken a Portie for a poodle!

When it comes to coat type, there are two acceptable types. The wavy coat is said to be more in line with tradition, but this does not make the other type, which is the curly coat, any less acceptable. Curly coats are maintained to be shorter than the wavy type. But fussing about a PWD coat for show will get you nowhere since the coat’s importance is rated at 5%, while that of the poodle is 60%. True appreciation of the Portie begins with recognizing it as of the working breed, and not for glamour.

More interaction with Portuguese water dogs will lead to the observation of coat variations, such as very tight curls to almost straight. Fine hair that is straight looks artificial, so the fur must be presented in a natural wave.

Let’s have some interesting trivia before we move on to coat color. Imagine meeting a Portie with a curly head but a wavy front (sometimes it takes a few years for the definitive coat type to appear). So, will it turn out completely wavy, or curly (never both)? The key to determining the dog’s coat type is to look at the shine of the coat. Curly coats will not shine, while wavy coats will.

The only permitted PWD coat colors are: solid black, black and white, brown, brown and white, and solid white. The dogs with white markings correspond to the “Irish Markings” concept, which is the same genetic pattern with which, for example, boxers are colored. Thus, Portie can also be capable of dramatic looks, despite having working (and not showing) roots.

Variations from the previous guidelines exist in the United States, with ticks in a small number of dogs. Even “party colors” make it a show, too. While this arrangement is a no-no in most parts of the world for the show ring, there’s no way to stop dog owners from wanting a harlequin-like PWD the moment they see one.

The bleaching gene has been observed to be prevalent among brown Portuguese water dogs. Puppies usually come out a rich brown color, only to fade to a plain light brown or mixed brown color as they approach their second year.

A disadvantage of browns with this tendency is that when they are bred to blacks, the fading gene appears among the black offspring. Some breeders try to maximize the opportunity by claiming a “silver” color, when in fact the dog is a faded black. Brown dogs also tend to have a lighter eye, which can then replicate itself when bred to black dogs giving puppies a yellowish eye tint.

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