The Portuguese Water Dog's Origins and History Source: Wikipedia. Country/Region of Origin: Portugal Original purpose: assisting fishermen Name: bred in Portugal to help fishermen on the water; also called Cão de água Português; nicknames: Portie, PWD. Historical notes: The Portuguese Water dog was originally used by Portuguese fisherman in the 1500s to send messages between boat, retrieve fish and things in the water, to guard the boats, help bring in nets, and save drowning fishermen. After modern fishing equipment became available the breed nearly went extinct, and there were at one point only 25 Portuguese Water Dogs in the world. Today there are thousands around the world.