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Portuguese Water Dog Breed

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa

Say hello to the Portuguese Water Dog!

This lovable bundle of curly hair will quickly assimilate to your family.

He will prove himself a loyal and happy companion!

Perfect for family life, the portie will happily accompany you on any adventure you undertake.

This cheerful pup is easy to train and wants nothing more than to please his people.

Just as his name suggests, the portie has a deeply ingrained affinity for water.

If you live near a body of water or have a pool, this might just be the perfect breed for you!


What do you need to know before bringing home a Portuguese Water Dog?

This article will cover all the basics.

We’ll cover the portie’s appearance, personality, and what his exercise requirements are.

Also discussed will be what you should expect when it comes to your pup’s grooming.

Following that will be recommendations for training, and a breakdown of common health issues for this breed.

Finally, we’ll explore a bit of the portie’s history so you can get a better idea of where this breed comes from.

So, are you ready to learn about this sweet ball of fun?

Let’s get started!



While there is no official record of the Portuguese Water Dog’s pedigree, most experts believe their closest relative is the Poodle.

And looking at the portie’s curly coat, it’s not hard to believe there’s a connection!

He is considered a medium dog breed and is hypoallergenic.

This pup grows between 17-23 inches tall and settles at a healthy weight of 35-50 pounds for females and 42-60 pounds for males.

The portie’s coat is long, coming in the colors white, black, and brown.

Their coat texture can be either curly or wavy.

There are two traditional ways to groom the portie that we will discuss below in the grooming section.

This breed boasts webbing between the pads of his feet.

No wonder he loves the water so much!

The portie is literally built for swimming!


Peaking out from his curly mop, your Portuguese Water Dog will gaze at you with intelligent and gentle eyes.

Perky ears and energetic tail signal your pup’s rapt attention.

This breed lives to be with his people doing life together.

His brilliant energy will never dim if you return his love.

The happy-go-lucky personality of the portie will quickly win over your heart!



This pup will be an excellent addition to your family!

The portie loves children and gets along well with other animals.

Your pup may be suspicious of new people and animals, but early and consistent socialization training will help mitigate that response.

The important thing to remember is that your portie is incredibly intelligent.

Because of how smart he is, this breed gets easily bored.

It is for this reason that experts often recommend this breed to experienced dog owners.

It can be challenging to provide enough mental stimulation to keep your portie from becoming destructive out of boredom.


Basically, the happiness of this breed boils down to getting enough exercise.

An under-exercised and bored portie is a sad and destructive force of nature.

Not only will your pup be miserable, but he will also make your life miserable as well.

With the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation, however, the Portuguese Water Dog will convince you never to get another breed!

This breed has appropriately been called a ‘velcro’ dog.

This term communicates that he sticks to you and wants to do everything with you.

You will never lack for a joyful companion in every adventure you embark on if you have a portie with you!




This breed is very energetic and intelligent.

You should expect to devote at least an hour of every day to exercising your portie.

Of course, a daily walk or run is a great start to giving your pup the outlet he needs.

However, the portie will quickly get bored if those are the only activities you involve him in.

Special training will not only give your pup a physical outlet, but also a mental one.

Agility training is especially good for this breed.

In addition, if you have the ability to let your portie play in a body of water, he will be over the moon.

Dock diving, fetch, and swimming together will feed the part of your pup’s soul that longs to be in the water.

Above all, the most important thing to your portie is that you are spending time with him.


Dog parks can be an option for exercise and play.

However, this breed can be very suspicious of new people and dogs.

It is imperative that you have thoroughly trained your pup in socialization before exposing him to a multi-dog environment.

Don’t forget: Your pup needs daily mental and physical stimulation.

Otherwise, you will have a depressed and destructive dog on your hands.




How much grooming does a portie need?

Well, because this breed only has a single coat, he sheds less than other, double-coated breeds.

The portie comes with either a wavy or curly coat.

Generally, your pup will need a thorough weekly brushing to remove any dead hair and accumulated dirt.

A quick brush every other day or so will help your weekly brushing go faster, but is not necessary.

An occasional bath will keep your portie smelling clean and looking fresh!


When it comes to trimming your pup’s coat, you can learn to do it yourself or take him to a professional groomer.

There are two traditional ways to trim a portie’s coat.

The first option is called the lion clip.

The lion clip trims your pup’s coat close around his muzzle and mid body.

Around the shoulders, forelegs, and at the end of his tail, the coat is left longer, hence the name!

Traditionally, the second option for grooming is the retriever cut.

This basically just means that your pup gets his whole cut trimmed to about an inch long, following the contours of his body.

Whatever grooming style you decide to go with, you will have one handsome pup to play with!



As stated above, the portie is incredibly intelligent and thrives on mental challenges.

Because he is naturally very suspicious of new people and dogs, socialization training is a must.

Start as young as possible to give your pup a solid foundation.

As your portie matures, other kinds of training will help keep him busy.

Agility training and puzzles will give your dog the mental stimulation he craves.

If you can incorporate water into your training, your pup will be all the more excited.

Diving, retrieving from the water, these activities are a good basis for training and will allow your pup the water play he desires.


The portie is very sensitive to harsh feedback.

It is always best to lead with firm but gentle affirmation.

This breed likes to think independently and can sometimes challenge what you want him to do.

This is why consistent and continuing training is the way to go.

If you are continuously reaffirming what your pup has learned in the past, it will be easy for you to reestablish the chain of command.



The Portuguese Water Dog is a generally healthy breed.

However, like many other breeds, this pup can have a predisposition to certain medical conditions.

There is no foolproof way to tell if a puppy will develop these conditions.

A responsible breeder will not use any breeding stock that tests positive for potential health problems.

Don’t hesitate to ask your breeder for your puppy’s medical pedigree.


One medical issue that the portie can be susceptible to is Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

This condition is genetically inherited and is the cause of the sudden death of puppies, usually between the ages of five weeks and seven months.

There is currently no way to determine what puppies are prone to this disease.

The best form of prevention is to test any breeding stock for the carrying gene.


Another potential and more common risk is hip dysplasia.

This condition occurs when the hip and elbow joints are not formed properly during puppyhood.

As the dog gets older, his joints may pop out of the socket, causing irritation and pain.

There is a screening available that will help you determine if your pup is likely to develop this condition or not.

In addition, diet and exercise can play a huge role in how susceptible your portie is to dysplasia.

As always, asking questions of your breeder is the #1 way to make sure you get a healthy puppy.

Once you’ve taken your portie home, regular checkups at your local vet will help you stay on top of your pup’s health.

And finally, conscientious feeding and exercise will help maintain your dog’s continued good health.

Both you and your pup will live better lives as you take care of each other!



The Portuguese Water Dog is most known for his historical presence in the country he is named after.

There is some debate where the breed originated.

Some experts say that the portie came from the Asiatic steppes before due to similarities between the breed and poodles.

Regardless of where they came from, the portie became a hardworking part of the fish-industry in Portugal for hundreds of years.

Not only were these pups used for water rescue, but they were an integral part of the fishing job.

Porties would herd fish into the nets, recover broken nets and lost tackle, and even took messages from their boat to shore and back.


Over the turn of the 20th century, fishing became less profitable, and the breed slowly dwindled as demand went down.

It is thanks to Vasco Bensuade, a wealthy Portuguese doctor, that the breed survived.

He spearheaded the project to save the portie from extinction.

The first portie came to the U.S. in 1958 and their numbers have grown exponentially since then.

Now, the Portuguese Water Dog sits in the top 100 most popular breeds in the United States!

He is still well known for water rescue, but the portie is primarily a companion and family dog now.


Where Can I Find Portuguese Water Dogs?

The first step, as always, is to find a reputable breeder.

The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America does provide a list of registered breeders.

However, the PWDCA states that the breeders on the list are not vetted and are merely listed because they are member of the organization.


As you are trying to find a reputable breeder, ask lots of questions.

Any breeder who is willing to answer your questions and asks a lot about you in return has the dog’s best interests at heart.

Avoiding puppy mills and internet scams is not only in your best interests, but the breed’s as well.

Ensure that you are purchasing a puppy from an ethical breeder who raised your pup in a safe and loving environment.

In addition, take the time to get to know your puppy before taking him home.

The more time you spend with your pup before taking him home will make him more comfortable, even in a new environment.



Q: Does the Portuguese Water Dog need a lot of exercise?
A: Yes! The portie has a lot of energy and needs daily exercise, both mental and physical. If your pup doesn’t get his energy out, he can become destructive.

Q: Is this breed hypoallergenic?
A: Yes. However, you can still have reactions based on how severe your allergies are. It is best to expose the allergic person to the puppy several times before committing.

Q: Will a portie get along with my other pets?
A: If it’s a larger pet, like a dog or cat, your portie will learn to interact with them. However, smaller pets like rabbits, birds, and lizards will not be safe with a portie.



In Closing

So what do you think of the Portuguese Water Dog?

This versatile pup will be the perfect companion for you and your family.

He loves the outdoors and lives for any opportunity to play or train in water.

The portie will be a faithful and devoted companion for any family that adopts him!

If you are interested in this breed, take a look at Portuguese Water Dog puppies here!

Thank you for learning about this beautiful breed with me!

Until next time!



American Kennel Club. (2022, 5 18). Portuguese Water Dog. Retrieved from American Kennel Club:

Daily Paws. (22, 5 18). Portuguese Water Dog. Retrieved from Daily Paws:

Dogtime. (2022, 5 18). Portuguese Water Dog. Retrieved from Dogtime:

Hillspet. (2022, 5 18). Portuguese Water Dog. Retrieved from Hillspet:

Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. (2022, 5 18). Home. Retrieved from Portuguese Water Dog Club of America:


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