Portuguese Water Dog – Dog Breed Profile and Information

Portuguese Water Dog
Photo by janeb13 on Pixabay

The Portuguese water dog is characterized as a medium-sized dog that has a soft and fluffy layer of coat that only sheds minimally.

This makes this breed a favorite for individuals who suffer from allergies. These are working dogs that are known to be very friendly, intelligent, and loving.

They can easily be trained and are also easily selected as service animals.

The earliest recording of this breed was in the late 13th century by a monk, but they have gained more popularity in the past decade.

Thanks to the former President of the United States of America and his family, Barack Obama, who, during their time in the White House, owned two Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunshine.

Breed overview

  • Group: Working dog
  • Weight: The breed can weigh up to 42 – 60 lbs for males, and the females can weigh up to 35 – 50
  • Height: Male Portuguese water dog can measure up to 20 – 23 inches, while females measure 17 – 21 inches
  • Coat and Colour: Coat is generally wavy or curled; brown, black and white, or silver-tipped
  • Life expectancy: The breed can live for to 10 – 13 Years


  • Affection Level: High
  • Friendliness: High
  • Kid-Friendly: High
  • Pet-Friendly: High
  • Exercise Needs: High
  • Playfulness: High
  • Energy Level: High
  • Trainability: Medium-High
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to Bark: Medium
  • Amount of Shedding: Low


This is an ancient breed that was first recorded in 1297 by a monk. Portuguese water dogs, also known as “Porties,” are believed to be related to another ancient breed known as the Poodle.

Present-day Portuguese water dogs and poodles are thought to have evolved from the same genetic pool, with unique historical directions separating the breeds in appearance, personality, and temperament.

Humans were believed to find this amazing breed fascinating because they also love the sea. Many Portuguese fishermen can be seen with one of this breed swimming in between canoes or boats herding fish into nets and retrieving lost tackles.

Porties gained popularity in the U.S early in the 70’s when the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was founded. Despite its love for the water, the breed is still loved for its loyalty and friendliness.


Porties are active working dogs with high energy who need daily exercise to avoid boredom. In addition to daily walks and time in the sea, Porties excel in training-based tasks such as nose work, agility, dock diving, rehabilitation work, and obedience.

To keep Portuguese water dogs mentally and physically fit, long regular walks, plenty of playtimes, and mentally stimulating activities are needed.

Even though the Portuguese water dog doesn’t shed as much, the breed still requires extensive regular grooming. Porties owners should ensure to have their pet brushed twice or three times each week.

Owners should also take their time to have their dogs trimmed once every month. This is to prevent their fur from becoming matted or tangled.

Attention should also be spare in taking proper care of your dog’s coat, skin, and ears to prevent possible inflammation or infection.

Most owners of Portuguese water dogs prefer to use positive reinforcement to teach their dogs new skills. Like many active dogs, Porties can get bored easily, so it is essential to build their relationship with their owner.

This can potentially help to alleviate boredom-induced behavioral issues. Portuguese water dogs make for excellent therapy and service dogs because they are fast learners and also thrive in competitive canine competitions.

These dogs, in general, are sweet and enjoy the company of their owners.  They may lack an independent streak, but with sufficient training and exercise, many Porties are generally well-behaved dogs that aim to please.

Those interested in getting their Portuguese water dog trained as an active therapy dog should study the unique traits of their dog and work closely with a training organization for therapy dogs.

An organization such as Therapy Dogs International or Pet Partners can be utilized to ensure that the dog is efficiently trained for the position.

Common health problems

Portuguese water dogs are, like all purebred dogs, vulnerable to many forms of accidents and diseases. Well-known disorders linked with the breed include:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy “PRA” is a degenerative eye condition that may eventually cause blindness
  • Juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy is a genetic disease in dogs that leads to death in puppies
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Storage disease is a genetic condition that can lead to fatal build-ups in the nerve cells of pups

As a general rule, the case of Progressive Retinol Atrophy, storage disease, and juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy is commonly prevented by recognizing carriers of the genes and stopping further breeding those dogs.

Diet and nutrition

Portuguese water dogs, like most dogs, perform well on a high-quality, high-protein diet developed to meet their individual needs.

Many Porties can require a higher calorie consumption than other dogs because of their heightened activity levels.

Still, the exact caloric requirements should be calculated based on consultations between owners and their vets.

To create a routine and avoid overeating, owners can feed their dogs twice a day rather than leaving food out for grazing.


  • Doesn’t shed excessively
  • Porties are friendly with other pets
  • An intelligent breed that responds well to training


  • Require regular grooming and brushing
  • Need more physical activity more than less-athletic breeds
  • Can be destructive when not adequately exercised

Buying or adopting a Portuguese Water Dog

Check for nearby shelter dogs and rescue organizations to locate a Portuguese water dog.

A list of licensed breeders is also issued by the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. Still, it is easy to remember that they do not oversee or guarantee any particular breeder.

Before choosing the type of dog for you and your family, it’s always wise to do your study. Potential owners can find tons of information on Portuguese Water Dogs through the PWDCA or talking to current owners of Porties.

The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America (PWDCA) also offers adoption and rescue services to potential owners.

Some other breeds to consider include:

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