Portuguese Water Dogs – Everything You Need To Know

Portuguese Water Dog is a calm, intelligent, and water-loving fisher dog. Portuguese Water Dogs are related to the Spanish Water Dogs, and both share their ancestry with Poodles. Their athletic body and distinctive webbed feet make them excellent swimmers. They are active and energetic and need a lot of activities and exercise. The Portuguese Water Puppies are easy to train and are good at various sports. They are fun-loving, affectionate, loyal, and always eager to please their owners. They love to follow their humans everywhere and anywhere (be ready to forget your privacy) and are the ultimate Velcro dogs.

Portuguese Water Dog Pros and Cons

Low sheddingHigh exercise Need
Good with other petsMouthy
IntelligentShy and vicious

Portuguese Water Dog Basic Information

  • Name: Portuguese Water Dog
  • Origin: Portugal
  • Group: Water Dog, working dog
  • Size: Medium
  • Height: 17-23 inches
  • Weight: 35-60 pounds
  • Coat: Medium and Curly
  • Color: Black, white, brown, chocolate, liver
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Swimming, jogging, water sports, agility, obedience, rally, therapy work, tracking, and water work.
  • Barking Level: Medium
  • Shedding Level: Low
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Litter Size: 4-8 puppies
  • Other Names: cão d’ água português, cão de água algarvio, Portie, PWD, Water Dog
  • Original Passtime: Water sports
  • Life Span: 10-14 years

Portuguese Water Dog- History

Portuguese Water Dog is that floppy, cuddly, super friendly family pooch who will also be your daily fitness partner. Portuguese Water Dogs originated from Algarve, Portugal, and were bred around 700 B.C. Centuries back, Portuguese Water Dogs were used by the fisherfolk along the shores of Portugal and Spain. These dogs were utilized to drive fish into the net, pass on the message from boat to boat, and retrieve gear from the water. Also nicknamed Portie, it served as a fishing crew member for a very long time in history. These dogs are among the oldest breeds and were first accounted for in 1297. According to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, the first dog that resembled the present-day Portie was mentioned in a written note of a monk. He reported seeing a dog with “black coat, long and rough hair, cut to the first rib and with a tail tuft,” pulling a sailor out from the sea.

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Portuguese Water Dog is believed to be sharing its ancestor with Poodle dog, which was bred in Germany. They are a breed of hardworking fisher dogs and are called the Cao de Agua, which means the “Dog of the water.” Sadly, these dogs disappeared around the 19th and early 20th centuries due to modernization. But a Portuguese dog lover called Vasco Bensuade stepped in to save the dog breed. Eventually, Portuguese Water Dogs made their way to England and the United States. Around 1972, there were only 12 known Porties in the U.S. But in 10 years, their number increased to 650 and was officially recognized by the AKC in 1983. Portuguese Water Dogs are now the 69th popular breed among the 155 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Portuguese Water Dog Highlights

  • Portuguese Water Dogs are highly energetic, active, and excellent swimmers and joggers. 
  • With no exercise and activities, they tend to become destructive.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs are highly intelligent, and the training has to be more challenging and exciting.
  • They shed very little and are hypoallergenic.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs are adaptable to many living situations.
  • They mature more slowly compared to the other breeds.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs are family dogs that love to please people, and they should be bred in a comfortable house.

Portuguese Water Dog Personality

Portuguese Water Dogs are robust, medium-sized athletic dogs. Portuguese Water Puppies grow up to 17-23 inches and weigh around 35-60 pounds. One will be highly amazed when they know how closely their characteristics are related to Poodles. The head is longer than the muzzle. Their ears droop and are floppy. Eyes are round and in the color of black and brown. They have regular and attentive expressions. They have broad nostrils and are in the same color as the coat. The tail is long and low-lying. The coat of Portuguese Water Dogs comes in two varieties- curly and wavy. In either type, the hair is medium to long and is single coated. As a result, they shed less and are hypoallergenic. 

The coat colors include brown, tan, black, and white. Some may have bi-colored and tri-colored coats with black and tan as the standard color. They also surprise your eyes with another typical coloration of full black and full brown with a splash of white on their chins and head. They have webbed feet that aid in their swimming. 

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingHigh
Good for new ownersMedium
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceMedium to High
Heat toleranceLow to medium

Portuguese Water Dog Physical Features

  • Head: The head is large and well proportioned. The top skull has an exceptional breadth. Eyes are round, medium in size, steady, penetrating, and attentive. The ears are floppy and set nicely against the head. The skull is broad and slightly longer than the well-defined and broad muzzle. The teeth are strong with scissors like bites.
  • Neck: The neck is strongly muscled and is straight, short, round, and held high.
  • Topline: The topline is level and firm. They have a deep and muscular chest.
  • Body: The body is medium-sized and athletic. The chest is broad and deep—ribs are long and wide to give good lung capacity. The abdomen is gracefully held high. The back is broad and powerfully muscled.
  • Tail: The tail is not docked and set slightly below the backline. It becomes ring-shaped when the dog is attentive. The tail helps in swimming and diving.
  • Forequarters: The shoulders are well inclined and muscular, with strong upper arms. Forelegs are strong, straight, long, and well-muscled.  
  • Hindquarters: The hindquarters are well balanced and powerful. The legs on the rear are strong, parallel, straight, and muscular. The thigh is well-muscled with a developed buttock.
  • Feet: The feet are round, flat with webbed toes. The webbing between the toes is soft and well covered with hair.
  • Coat: They are single-coated and cover the whole body. They have no undercoat. The coat comes in two varieties.

Curly– it is compact with cylindrical curls. The hair on the ears alone is wavy.

Wavy-gently falling waves have a slight sheen.

Two types of clips are allowed.

Lion clip– The long coat is clipped in the middle part, hindquarters, and muzzle. The hair at the end of the tail is left untouched.

Retriever clip– the entire coat is scissored and clipped to give a smooth appearance. The hair at the end of the tail is left to grow.

  • Color: The coat colors come in black, white, brown, chocolate, and liver.
  • Gait: The action is free with well-balanced movement. They have short and lively steps while walking.

Portuguese Water Dog Temperament

Portuguese Water Dogs are active and fun-loving. They are tireless, have a great sense of humor, and are always eager to please their owners. The temperament of Portie dogs varies from one another. Some are strong-willed, some are laid back, while most fall between the two. They are brave, loyal, intelligent, and resistant to fatigue. They are obedient and have pleasure in pleasing their owners. They are highly energetic, active, and can work the whole day in and out of the water. Portuguese Water Puppy spirits up your life and home as a whole.

Portuguese Water Dog Training

Portuguese Water Dogs are easy to train and love to learn new skills. They are quick to learn and require positive reinforcement. Proper training corrects behavioral problems caused due to boredom. In addition, exercise helps the owners to create a lovely and strong bond between their Portie pooches. They love canine and water sports and make exceptional therapy dogs and service dogs. Portuguese Water Dogs can become destructive if they are not engaged. They like to chew and so provide them with chew toys. 

With proper training, Portie dogs are well-behaved and live to please their humans.

Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh
Prey driveMedium
Mouthiness tendenciesHigh
Barking and Howling tendenciesMedium to high
Wanderlust tendenciesMedium

Portuguese Water Dog Exercise Needs

Portuguese Water Dogs are highly active and require a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise. They can be engaged in walks, swimming, multiple canine games, canine sports, agility, obedience, rally, flyball, retrieve balls, and water games. Thirty minutes of mental stimulation daily will keep the dog happy and healthy. They also love to chew and retrieve sticks or balls thrown into the water. They make a great companion while exercising, hiking, and walking.

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh

Portuguese Water Dog Grooming

Portuguese Water Dogs are single-coated and have two coat types- curly and wavy. They have no undercoat, and they shed low. Portuguese Water Puppies are hypoallergenic. The hair is clipped in two ways- lion clip and retriever clip. 

  • The long coat is cut in the middle part, hindquarters, and muzzle in the lion clip. The hair at the tail’s end is left untouched. 
  • The entire coat is scissored and clipped in the retriever clip to give a smooth appearance. The hair at the tail’s end is left to grow.

Brush the coat 2-3 times a week to prevent tangles, along with clipping the trimming once a month. A freshwater rinse is essential after swimming.

They can be bathed when needed to keep clean from dirt and debris. The nails need to be trimmed periodically, once or twice a month. Brush the teeth without fail 2-3 times to prevent dental problems. Ears accumulate dirt and must be washed and cleaned to avoid bacteria and other ear-related issues. Clean their eyes to avoid infections.

Grooming Overview

Easy to groomHigh
Drooling tendenciesLow 
Amount of sheddingLow

Portuguese Water Dog Health

Portuguese Water Dogs are healthy and active dogs. Yet, it’s always wise to be aware of the health conditions that can affect them.

Health Overview

General healthHigh
Weight gain tendenciesMedium to High

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is outwardly a painful disease that occurs when the bones of the back legs do not fit properly in the joints. While some dogs will exhibit symptoms, the majority of canines will not. Hip dysplasia is primarily genetic, although other causes such as accidents, excessive weight gain, and inappropriate training can also cause it. Even though this disease is fatal, therapies range from medicine to hip replacement surgery. To avoid this problem, avoid breeding dogs with hip dysplasia parentage and get annual examinations.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia: 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 
  • This condition causes defects or injury to the hip bones and joints and worsens without treatment.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Reduced activity and movements
  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run or climb
  • Lameness in the hind limbs
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement
  • Enlarging shoulders
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A degenerative eye disorder that causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eyes. It can be detected earlier. A very later stage is blindness. Dogs with this condition can survive for several years since they have other senses to compensate.

Cataracts: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow gradually. Cataracts may develop at any age and often don’t damage vision, although in some cases cause vision loss. A board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist certifies the breeding dogs after testing them free of hereditary eye disease before breeding. Usually, cataracts can be removed surgically with good results.   

Storage Disease: A genetic disease that causes poison in a puppy’s nerve cells.

Addison’s Disease: This hazardous disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is triggered by the adrenal gland’s inadequate adrenal hormone development. Addison’s disease causes most dogs to vomit, have a low appetite, and be drowsy. Since these symptoms are ambiguous and may be mistaken for other illnesses, it’s possible to overlook this disorder until it’s too late. When a dog is depressed or where potassium levels rise to the point that they interfere with heart activity, causing extreme shock and death, more severe symptoms appear. If your veterinarian suspects Addison’s disease, they can run a battery of tests to validate the diagnosis.  

Juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy: A genetic disease that affects the puppy’s heart. It is an inherited disorder concerning the heart muscles. It causes death in puppies aged five weeks to seven months.

Recommended Tests for Portuguese Water Dog 

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • GM-1 DNA Test
  • JDCM DNA Test
  • Blood test

Portuguese Water Dog  Diet and Nutrition

Portuguese Water Dogs require a daily amount of 2.5 to 3.5 cups of high-quality dog food divided into two meals. They are active dogs and need the right amount of nourishment. Therefore, you can feed them a well-balanced protein diet along with calorie-rich food. However, every dog’s diet depends upon the size, age, metabolism, and activity level. They love to eat and are prone to obesity. However, they can be kept healthy and in shape with the nourishing and right amount of meals. At regular intervals, provide your dog with clean and fresh water.

Portuguese Water Dog Living condition

Portuguese Water Dogs are perfect for a loving home with a pool or a pond. They are adaptable to any living condition and can also live in apartments. They are highly sensitive and not comfortable with strangers. They have a close bond with their owners and are not great when left alone. They have a low prey drive and are safe without the leash. They love to play with toys, and a happy, loving home is what will make these dogs healthy and joyful.

Did you know?

  • After the presidential elections, the former American President Barack Obama had promised his daughters a Portuguese Water Dog. Bo joined the family in 2009 and Sunny in 2012. 
  • In the 1500s, Portuguese Water Dogs helped the sailors of the Spanish armada by passing messages from boat to boat.
  • The late senator Ted Kennedy adored Porties, and he would bring his two Portie dogs sunny and splash everywhere with him.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs love water, and water is their favorite game and spot.

Portuguese Water Dog Club Recognition

  • AKC-Recognized Breed
  • United Kennel Club

Rescue Groups

  • Portuguese Water Dog Club of America Rescue

Adding a Portuguese Water Dog to Your Family

Things to remember before adding a Portuguese Water Dog to your family.

It is best to get a Portuguese Water Dog from a reputable breeder to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health and vaccination. In addition, it is best to check with the puppy’s parents to cross-check its health and happiness.

The cost of a Portuguese Water Dog ranges from $2000 to $3000.

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