Features & Care of the Portuguese Water Dog Dog Breed

Standing side profile of a Portuguese Water Dog

A medium-sized working breed from Portugal, the Portuguese water dog has floppy ears, facial hair, and fur that is hypoallergenic and wavy or curly. People with mild to severe allergies enjoy this type of dog since they don't shed much. As a high-energy breed, Portuguese water dogs are best suited for active people looking for a canine friend for outdoor activities.

Portuguese water dogs are intelligent workers that learn commands and obedience quickly, making them a popular choice for assistance animals. These dogs are well-liked for being intelligent and readily trained, but they are also wonderful family companions.

Breed Overview

  • Group:
  • Weight: 42 to 60 pounds (males); 35 to 50 pounds (females)
  • Height: 20 to 23 inches (males); 17 to 21 inches (females)
  • Coat: Wavy or tightly curled
  • Coat Color: Black, black and white, brown; Sometimes white- or silver-tipped
  • Life Span: 10 to 13 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, obedient, companionable, brave, friendly
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Origin: Portugal

Characteristics of the Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese water dog was developed to assist fisherman, and the breed continues to this day to exhibit its innate love of the water. Regular exercise is important for your Portie's health, particularly swimming and spending time with you. These dogs are generally amiable and want to be close to their owners. Additionally, they get along well with children and other animals, and they are constantly eager to play. Although portlies may have a tendency to be independent, with the right amount of training and exercise, they are fully capable of being polite, well-behaved dogs.

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

History of the Portuguese Water Dog

An narrative made by a monk in 1297 contained the earliest recorded description of the ancient breed of Portuguese water dogs. The poodle and portly are distantly related ancient breeds. Modern Portuguese water dogs and poodles are believed to have descended from the same gene pool, with different historical pathways dividing the breeds in terms of temperament, look, and personality.

Portuguese water dogs developed a deep bond with humans early on because of their propensity for living by the sea. They swam between boats with Portuguese fisherman, helping them retrieve lost gear and herd fish into nets. Leo, a dog acquired in the 1930s by rich Portuguese businessman Vasco Bensaude, is regarded as the "founder father" of contemporary Portuguese water dogs. It's estimated that Leo is the common ancestor of more than half of all Portuguese water dogs.

With the founding of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America in the early 1970s, Porties gained popularity in the United States. The dogs are admired today mostly for their friendliness as companions and their show-worthy features, even if they are still recognized for liking water.

Portuguese water dogs have gained a lot of notoriety recently, despite the fact that a monk originally described the breed in the late 13th century. This is because Bo and Sunny, two Portuguese Water Dogs owned by the late U.S. President Barack Obama and his family while they were residing in the White House.


Portuguese Water Dog Care

The Portuguese water dog may be a wonderful companion, but potential owners should be aware of its maintenance requirements. Despite the fact that these dogs demand a lot of activity and grooming, they are often intelligent, easily trained, and eager to please.


Working canines with high levels of energy, porties need frequent exercise to prevent boredom. Portuguese water dogs thrive in training-based pursuits including agility, nose work, dock diving, therapeutic work, and obedience in addition to frequent walks and plenty of swimming when feasible. Portuguese water dogs should have about an hour of exercise every day, along with fun and brain-stimulating activities, to maintain them intellectually and physically healthy.


Despite being a low-shedding breed, Portuguese Water Dogs nonetheless require routine—and often intensive—grooming. To prevent their fur from becoming matted or knotted, porties should be combed two to three times per week and had their nails cut once per month. In order to avoid illness or irritation brought on by salt or chemicals in pools, special care should be given to make sure Portuguese water dogs' skin, coats, and ears are clean. Like other breeds, it's crucial to frequently wash your dog's teeth and trim its nails in order to avoid dental illness.


Most Portuguese Water Dogs like learning new things and rapidly pick up new skills when positive reinforcement is used during training. Starting basic obedience training as early as eight weeks of age is possible. Training Porties is a terrific method to strengthen their relationship with their humans and can reduce behavioral issues brought on by boredom (like becoming destructive around the house). Portuguese water dogs are excellent therapy and service dogs and frequently perform well in dog sports competitions since they are such quick learners.

If you're interested in starting with your Portie, you need consider the distinct personality features of your dog. To make sure the dog is appropriate and proficiently trained for the position, work closely with a recognized organization.


Common Health Problems

Portuguese water dogs are prone to certain hereditary health issues, like the majority of purebred canines. Breeders who are responsible may screen their dogs for many of these diseases and prevent mating animals that could carry genetic abnormalities to offspring. Common ailments linked to Porties include:

  • : Most common in large-breed dogs, hip dysplasia is caused by a malformation of your dog's hip joints as it ages.
  • : This degenerative eye disease eventually leads to blindness.
  • : Juvenile DCM is a genetic condition affecting the heart that can cause death in puppies aged five weeks to seven months.
  • Storage Disease: This genetic disease causes toxic and fatal buildups of enzymes in a puppy’s nerve cells.

Diet and Nutrition

Portuguese water dogs thrive on a high-protein, premium food tailored to meet their unique requirements. Many Porties may require a larger calorie diet than other dogs because to their high levels of activity, but the precise caloric requirements should be determined after consultations between owners and their vets.

Instead of keeping food out for roaming, feed this breed twice a day to help develop a pattern and deter overeating. Your dog may be more susceptible to health issues like hip dysplasia if it gains weight. Consult your veterinarian to develop a balanced feeding plan depending on the age, weight, and level of activity of your dog.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Portuguese Water Dog

To find a Portuguese water dog, check your local shelters and rescue groups. Similar breeds can also make a great addition to your family, and many are in shelters waiting for their forever homes.

Make sure the breeder lets you view the circumstances in which their dogs are maintained and offers any pertinent medical testing for the parents of the litter if you're going to adopt a puppy. Prices for these dogs can range from $1,500 to $3,000 when purchased from a breeder, however they may change according on pedigree and availability.

To start your search, check out these resources for the national breed club, rescues, and the AKC:

  • Portuguese Water Dog Rescue and Relocation Program
  • Portuguese Water Dog Club of America Breeders
  • AKC Portuguese Water Dog Breeders

Portuguese Water Dog Overview

  • Does not shed significantly

  • Gets along well with other pets

  • Intelligent and responds quickly to training

  • Needs regular brushing and grooming

  • Requires more exercise than other less-athletic breeds

  • Potentially destructive when not exercised or entertained enough

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to join your family!

  • Do Portuguese Water Dogs Make Good Pets?

    The Portie, also known as a Portuguese water dog, is renowned for being an excellent pet for busy families. These dogs are incredibly intelligent, good with kids and other animals, and very trainable.

  • Do Portuguese Water Dogs Bark a Lot?

    Although this breed is not normally noted for frequent barking, your dog may nonetheless do so to warn you of strangers or unexpected situations. There are several techniques to train your Portie to stop barking if you're experiencing issues with a noisy Portie.

  • Can Portuguese Water Dogs Be Left Alone?

    Portuguese water dogs are prone to when lonely or bored, thus they are not a breed that owners who frequently leave the house should choose. These dogs form strong bonds with their families and thrive with owners who are willing to include their dog in activities.