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Portuguese Water Dog: The Ultimate Guide

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There are lots of things that you will need to consider when it comes to bringing a Portuguese Water Dog into your home. Of course, there will be lots of good things to look forward to, but there are also a few challenges that you might face. It is important to be aware of both of these things before you bring a Portuguese Water Dog into your lives.

The Portuguese Water Dog was originally bred to be a fisherman’s helper, but they have developed over time to become the gorgeous breed that we know and love today. These dogs are eager to please and make excellent furry companions in your home, but there is much more to them than this.

Portuguese water dog

As with getting any other dog, it is really important to do your research to find out as much as you can about the breed. This will help ensure that you are prepared for a future with this dog, whether that includes good or bad traits.

We are here to help you find out everything you need to know about the Portuguese Water Dog breed, so just keep reading to find out more.

Portuguese Water Dog Key Facts

If you are thinking about getting a Portuguese Water Dog, there are a few things that you should know first before we take a closer look at the breed. Things like their lifespan, exercise needs, and monthly costs are really important to consider, which is why we will provide you with more information on this below.

Average Lifespan

On average, Portuguese Water Dogs are known for living anywhere between 12 and 15 years long. This is a long commitment, as you will likely live with this breed of dog for a very long time. It is important to ensure you can commit to this dog for a long time.

Minimum Exercise (Per Day)

Portuguese Water Dogs are super energetic, which is why they need at least 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. These are also dogs that love to swim, and they can make the perfect jogging companion.

Coat Length

These dogs have a medium-length coat, which is often curly. It usually comes in a black white, brown, chocolate, or liver color.

Minimum Cost (Per Month)

You can expect owning a Portuguese Water Dog to cost at least $120 a month. This is one of the pricier breeds when it comes to things like quality food, insurance, and other costs. You will need to factor such costs into your monthly budget to find out if you can afford this breed of dog.


Portuguese Water dogs are notable due to their curly or wavy coats and impressive head size with considerable breadth and well-balanced mass. They have a robust body that can endure most types of playful exercise.


These are medium-sized dogs with a robust bodies. We will leave the standard breed measurements below.

Average Height

On average, male Portuguese Water Dogs will be between 51 and 58 cm tall, but females will be between 43 and 53 cm tall.

Average Weight

Male Portuguese Water Dogs tend to fall between 19 and 27 kg when it comes to their weight, but females tend to weigh slightly less, between 16 and 23 kg.


Thankfully, the Portuguese Water Dog is a breed with many great qualities. They are tireless and fun-loving, with a great sense of humor. They are also super smart, which means that they are always one step ahead of you. You will often find yourself laughing at your dog as they mess around to try and get your attention.

You will find lots of different temperaments when it comes to Portuguese Water Dogs, and while some of them are strong-willed, others are more laid back. However, most Portuguese Water Dogs will be in the middle.

As with all dogs, Portuguese Water Dogs will require early socialization, which is when you expose them to lots of different people, sights, sounds, and experiences when they are still young. This will help to ensure that they grow up to be well-rounded dogs. 

Apartment Living

These dogs can adapt well to apartment life, but having a fenced yard to run around and play in is preferable. However, as long as you are still providing them with lots of daily exercise, they should do well living in an apartment.

Good for Novice Owners

These dogs are typically not the best for first-time dog owners as it can take quite a bit of dog experience to train them. However, learning how to train them by talking to professionals or taking them to training classes is possible. This is one of the only things that make them less suitable for first-time owners.

Sensitivity Level

Portuguese Water Dogs are known for being sensitive when it comes to the tone of voice that you are using. This is why it is recommended that you don’t scold them or yell at them, as they do not typically respond well to this. Instead, they respond really well to positive reinforcement in their training.

Tolerates Being Alone

Some Portuguese Water Dogs can find it quite difficult to be left alone for long periods of time as they love company. However, the majority of dogs of this breed can be left alone for around 4 to 6 hours.

If you intend to leave them alone for longer than this on a regular basis, then this might not be the right breed for you. If they are left alone for too long, they can become quite destructive to keep themselves occupied or work out their frustration.

Tolerates Cold Weather

Portuguese Water Dogs can tolerate cold weather to an extent, but they won’t cope well with frigid temperatures.

Tolerates Hot Weather

These dogs are able to handle the hot weather when it is warm or slightly hot, but they don’t do so well when it is very hot outside. 

Affectionate With Family

Portuguese Water Dogs are eager to please and love to show affection to their families, whether people or other animals. You shouldn’t be surprised if they cuddle up on your lap or follow you around your home.


These dogs are very friendly and affectionate, which is why they do really well with children. However, any interaction between your dog and other children should be supervised at all times to be safe. However, this is a great breed to consider if you want to get a dog but have children too.

Dog Friendly

Portuguese Water Dogs will do very well with dogs and other animals, especially if they are raised with them. However, this might not be the case for dogs that have not been properly socialized with other dogs when they are young, which is why socialization is so important. 

Friendly Toward Strangers

Even though this dog breed is loyal and friendly with its family, they can sometimes be weary of strangers. This can be a great watchdog quality, as they will alert you if they are confronted with something unfamiliar, but it can also be annoying when you invite new people into your home. Your dog may need some time to warm up to new people.

Health And Grooming

Now that you are well-informed about the traits, characteristics, and temperament of the Portuguese Water Dog, it is important to learn more about their health and grooming needs. This will help to prepare you for the future of living with this breed.


Portuguese Water Dogs do not shed a lot, which is why they are considered hypoallergenic, which is great for those with allergies to animal fur.


The Portuguese Water Dog is one of the dog breeds that doesn’t drool very often. The most likely time for this breed to drool is if they know that they are about to have food. Otherwise, they typically don’t drool very much, if at all. If your Portuguese Water Dog is drooling excessively, it could be a sign that they have an underlying health condition, so you might want to get this checked out by your vet.


The Portuguese Water Dog’s dense and profuse coat is hypoallergenic but requires regular and extensive grooming. Their coats can range from tight and curly to loose and wavy, and it can be kept in the lion clip or the retriever clip.

The lion clip is where the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle is clipped to the skin, and the retriever clip is where the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length and follows the outline of the dog.

As well as regular brushing and coat maintenance, it is important to bath your dog on occasion to keep them happy and healthy. These dogs like to spend a lot of time in the water, so it is important to give them a thorough fresh-water rinse after swimming.

This will work to remove any chemicals, salt, and other substances that can otherwise cause skin or coat issues. You should also wipe and dry the ears to prevent infections.

Their nails will need to be trimmed either once or twice a month, depending on if they have become too long. If you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, they are too long.

Keeping their nails short and neatly trimmed will keep their feet in good condition and protect your shins from getting scratched when your Portie enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

It is also really important to keep on top of dental hygiene, and you will need to brush your dog’s teeth at least 2 or 3 times a week. This will help ensure that their breath is fresh and that you eliminate a buildup of tartar and periodontal disease. Brushing their teeth daily is even better for them.

You should aim to start grooming your dog when they are still a puppy, as this will get them used to the experience. Try to handle their paws frequently, as these dogs can often get touchy about their feet.

You should also make sure to look inside their mouth and ears. Try to make grooming a positive experience that is filled with praise and rewards. If you do all of this, you will be giving them the best possible chances when it comes to their health. 

General Health

Portuguese Water Dogs are generally very healthy, and responsible breeders will test their stock for health disorders and communicate with other dedicated breeders on a regular basis. Making sure your dog is health checked is important to ensure that they are not likely to develop a certain health condition. However, their ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection. The teeth should be brushed often to avoid any dental issues, using a toothpaste specifically designed for dogs.

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health issues for Portuguese Water Dogs to develop are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Junior Dilated CardioMyopathy
  • Gangliosidosis

Potential For Weight Gain

Portuguese Water Dogs don’t typically gain too much weight easily and are not at high risk of developing weight issues like obesity.


Portuguese water dog

When it comes to training your Portuguese Water Dog, you should try to use positive reinforcement techniques like praise, play, and lots of food rewards.

You should also keep in mind that these dogs can get bored very easily, so you will need to make sure that you keep their training fun and exciting. Repeating the same thing over and over again is likely to lead to you losing their attention.

Although this dog likes to learn new things and master new skills, they usually do this pretty quickly. Training this breed of dog obedience, agility, tracking, or water work is a great way to stimulate their minds and ensure that they are having fun and burning off excess energy at the same time.

These dogs will typically pick up new tricks and behaviors quickly, and you will be moving on to more challenging things in their training in hardly any time.

There is very little that the Portuguese Water Dog cannot do if you train them right, and they really do thrive when training. As well as this, any type of training will help you to build a special bond with your dog. If you give them a job to do, they will be happy to do it for you.

Easy to Train

Due to the fact that these dogs are very intelligent and they are eager to please, they will respond well to obedience training.  They are typically very easy to train and they will pick things up quite quickly, but there is so much that you will need to learn about their training to ensure that they become a well-rounded dog. They will need to be trained in a variety of different aspects, which may require the help of an experienced trainer.


These dogs are very intelligent, which is the main reason why they are so easy to train. 

Potential to Bite

It is not common for Portuguese Water Dogs to display aggressive behavior, like biting. They are typically friendly, loving, and loyal dogs that are highly unlikely to bite.

However, they can be a bit weary when it comes to strangers, and there is potential for them to bite if they are caught off guard or they feel threatened. 

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Portuguese Water Dogs are usually quiet around the house unless they have perceived something as a threat to your home or family.


The Portuguese Water Dog descends from dogs that were used for centuries by Portuguese fishermen to drive fish into nets, retrieve gear from the water, and swim messages from boat to boat.

It is thought likely that they share ancestors with the Poodle, who was bred in Germany to be a water retriever. They served as a fishing crew member. 

Portuguese Water Dogs were hard-working fisherdogs that actually almost disappeared in the early 20th century as fishing became more modernized. However, a wealthy dog lover called Vasco Bensuade stepped in to save the breed. In 1983, the American Kennel Club recognized the Portie as a distinct breed.


The Portuguese Water dog is one of the more expensive breeds to purchase. You can expect to pay between $2000 and $3000 for a Portuguese Water Dog puppy. 

Portuguese Water Dog Fun Facts

  • Their original job as to herd fish into nets
  • They have webbed feet to help them swim
  • In the native Portugal, the breed is known as Cão de Água

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.