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Improper Coats

Portuguese Water Dogs with improper coats do not have the coat described in the breed standard. The term improper coat relates to the nature of the coat and the resulting appearance of the dog. A more appropriate term may be incorrect patterning as the dogs have short hair on their face and the lower part of their front and rear legs. A wavy "improperly coated" PWD will tend to look like a Flat Coated Retriever. A curly "improperly coated" PWD will tend to look like an American Water Spaniel or Curly Coated Retriever. Some breeders will also describe this as a "flat coat" or "smooth-faced". The improper coat does not impact the health, intelligence, or personality of the dog. The dogs are every bit PWDs. An improper coat is not a disease and the dogs with improper coats make wonderful healthy pets. Dogs with improper or incorrect coats are typical PWDs except for the coat's appearance. It does, however, mean that they do not look like a normal PWD and do not conform to the AKC breed standard in their appearance. This would be of concern to those who are considering showing their dog or want to be sure the puppy they get will "look like" a Portuguese Water Dog. Dogs with improper coats are registerable with the AKC as a PWD and they can and do participate in many events including obedience, water trials and agility. They make great companions and their face is very expressive as you can see their eyes so well.

Improperly coated dogs and puppies usually have a double coat that sheds and has dander similar to other double-coated shedding breeds. This may make them inappropriate for people with allergies to canine dander.

In several other breeds that present with "improper coats" for their breed, the mode of inheritance for the improper coat is a simple recessive. Recent test breeding of two PWDs with improper coats confirmed that a simple recessive gene causes improper coats. The gene was probably introduced centuries ago by Portuguese fishermen breeding to a water spaniel or retriever to improve the breed's function in the water.

Improper Coat Collage

On March 7, 2010 a genetic test for improper coat carriers was announced by the PWDCA, Dr. Gordon Lark of the Georgie Project at the University of Utah and Optigen LLC. We are in the process of sending in cheek swabs to Optigen for the IC-13 gene test on all our breeding animals.

Created April 2007
Modified March 12, 2010