The Portuguese Water Dog originated from the Algarve region of Portugal. From there the breed expanded to all around Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore.
Portuguese Water Dogs rode in fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off the coast of Iceland fishing for cod.In Portuguese, the breed is called cão de água (IPA: [ˈkɐ̃w dɨ ˈaɡwɐ]; literally 'dog of water'). In Portugal, the dog is also known as the Algarvian Water Dog (cão de água algarvio), or Portuguese Fishing Dog (cão pescador português). Cão de água de pêlo ondulado is the name given to the wavy-haired variety, and cão de água de pêlo encaracolado is the name for the curly-coated variety.The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed; only 36 Portuguese Water Dogs were entered for Britain's Crufts competition in 2013. Though some breeders claim they are a hypoallergenic dog breed, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that hypoallergenic dog breeds exist. Their non-shedding qualities have made them more popular in recent years.
The Portuguese Water Dog has recently gained more fame by being the chosen breed of US President Barack Obama, who had two of them, Bo and Sunny. The Obama family chose Sunny for the breed's comparatively hypoallergenic nature, while Bo was given to them by Senator Ted Kennedy.