The Portuguese Water Dog was a favourite of fisher folks in Portugal, thanks to its swimming and retrieving skills. The exact ancestry of this breed is not known, but records suggest it was first introduced by Moor Traders who came to Portugal in the 8th century.
However, some experts claim that its ancestry can be traced back to the water dogs in 700 BC of the East German Tribe in the wild Central-Asian steppes. When the German Tribe left the steppes, most of these water dogs developed into the Poodle (Germany) and the Portuguese Water Dog (Portugal), which assumes that both these breeds came from the same genetic pool. Other descendants include the Puli (herding dog) and the Kerry Blue Terrier (working dog).
In the 11th century, the monks gave the first description of the Portuguese Water Dog in their account of a drowning sailor who was saved by a dog with a "black coat, the hair long and rough, cut to the first rib and with a tail tuft." By 1800s, the popularity of the PWD skyrocketed when it was favoured by King Carlos I who was then a breed enthusiast. In the 1930's, wealthy Portuguese Shipping heir, Vasco Bensaude, started a breeding program that is believed to have contributed to the modern PWDs.
Today, the Portuguese Water Dog has been recognised and accepted by The Kennel Club but unfortunately, it has remained unpopular in the UK and as such only a few puppies are registered each year.