Country of Origin: Portugal
  • Activity Level: high
  • Shedding Level: low
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  • Grooming Level: moderate
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  • Trainability: high
  • Good for Novice Owners: high
  • Adaptability: high
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  • Kid/Pet Friendly: often
  • Prey Drive: moderate
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  • Watchdog: aware
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  • Average Size: Medium
  • Average Lifespan: 10-14 years
  • Registered?: aca, akc
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Portuguese Water Dog Dog Breed Information





Owner Experience


Activity Level


Life Span

Did You Know?

The curly-coated Portuguese Water Dog is a working breed that is about as fun-loving and lively as any dog breed out there! The Portuguese Water Dog was originally used by Portuguese Fisherman to retrieve equipment that was lost overboard and was even known to “herd” fish into the nets, which made them very valuable fishing companions.

The fact that Portuguese Water Dogs love to be in the water can surely be attributed to their history as a “Fisherman’s Friend”, and having webbed feet never hurts when you like to swim, of course! As a matter of fact, this dog is so well known to be a water lover, that the Portuguese call them “Cao de Agua”, which means Dog of Water.

The Portuguese Water Dog has a friendly and playful disposition. They are good with children and strangers as long as they are properly socialized early in life. They do fairly well with other dogs, and they will be generally friendly with other family pets.

This is a very adaptable dog breed. They are not particularly sensitive to hot or cold climates, but be careful of extreme temps like with all breeds. They will do well in an apartment setting as long as they are properly exercised and have enough attention. The Portuguese Water Dog will not enjoy long periods of alone time, as they are happiest while spending time and engaging with their family.

The Portuguese Water Dog is a very healthy breed generally. The major health concerns are Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Storage Disease which are both genetically passed on to puppies by the parents and can be avoided with proper genetic testing. Don’t be afraid to talk to the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and to ask about relevant health clearances.

Because of their high intelligence level, the Portuguese Water Dog is a good choice for an owner with any experience level. They pick up simple commands very quickly, and are easily housebroken the majority of the time. Even for an owner who is looking to use this dog breed for agility or other advanced uses like a service dog, these dogs will meet practically any challenge.

The Portuguese Water Dog is a low-shedding breed, but that does not mean they don’t require proper grooming. There are two different grooming cut styles well known for the PWD, the Lion Cut and the Retriever cut. The Lion cut consists of the hindquarters, muzzle, and the base of the tail are shaved, with the rest of the coat full length. The Retriever Cut is simply having the coat cut down to 1″ over the dog’s entire body. Weekly brushing and the occasional bath is sufficient for keeping this dog’s coat healthy.

In addition to coat care, it’s also important to make time for nail care, ear care, and dental care. Usually, monthly nail trimming is enough to keep your dog’s nails from getting too long. Regularly checking and carefully cleaning your dog’s ears can help prevent ear infections. Proper dental care for dogs, like brushing your dog’s teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day, can help prevent dental disease.

The Portuguese Water Dog has a high energy level; they should be exercised for at least an hour a day. A fenced-in yard is a nice option with this dog breed, as is an active family lifestyle. Since this dog breed loves the water, swimming is a great activity for them. They’re also a great fit for several dog sports, such as dock diving, agility, obedience, rally, tracking, and more!

The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized canine. A full-grown PWD usually weighs 35 to 60 pounds and stands 17 to 23 inches at the shoulder.

A Portuguese Water Dog generally lives 10 to 14 years.

The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, chose the Portuguese Water Dog as his presidential family pet. President Obama currently owns two Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunny, and was said to have chosen this breed because they are a low-shedding, hypoallergenic dog breed.