In recent years, PWD enthusiasts have been able to come up with many versatile looks for their portuguese water dogs. Sometimes, it’s even hard to imagine that it is essentially the same dog. In the show ring, not a few observers have mistaken a Portie for a poodle!
When it comes to coat type, there are two acceptable kinds. The wavy coat is said to be more in keeping with tradition, but this does not make any less acceptable the second type, which is the curly coat. Curly coats are maintained to be shorter than the wavy type. But fussing over a PWD coat for show will lead nowhere since its coat importance is rated at 5%, while that of the poodle is 60%. True appreciation of the Portie begins by acknowledging it as of the working breed, and not for glamor.
More interaction with Portuguese water dogs will lead to the observation of coat variations, like very tight curls to nearly straight. Blow-dried hair that is straight looks artificial, so the coat needs to be presented in a natural wave.
Let’s have one interesting trivia before we turn 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 show). So, will it turn out completely wavy, or curly (never both)? The key to deciding which coat type the dog is, is to look at the lustre of the coat. Curly coats will not shine, while wavy coats do.
The only allowable PWD colours of the coat are: all-black, black and white, brown, brown and white, and all-white. The dogs with white markings are consistent with the “Irish Markings” concept, which is the same genetic pattern with which boxers, for example, are colored. Thus the Portie can also be capable of dramatic looks, despite having working (and not show) roots.
Variations from the preceding guidelines are found in the US, with ticking being seen in a small number of dogs. Even “parti-colours” make it to shows, too. While this scheme is a no-no in most parts of the world for the show ring, there is no way to stop dog owners from wanting a harlequin-like PWD the moment they see one.
The fading gene has been observed as prevalent among brown Portuguese water dogs. The puppies most of the time come out bearing a rich brown color, only to fade out to being an ordinary light brown, or mixed brown color as they approach their second year.
One downside to browns with this tendency is that when they are bred to blacks, the fading gene surfaces among the black offspring. Some breeders try to maximize the opportunity by claiming a “silver” color, when the fact is that the dog is a faded black. Brown dogs also tend to carry a lighter eye, which can then replicate itself when bred to black dogs providing puppies with a yellowish eye tinge.