Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog
  • Category SizeMedium
  • SheddingNone
  • Grooming RequirementsDaily
  • Alone1 to 3 hours
  • Other PetsMedium
  • VocalNot too noisy
  • AllergiesYes
  • Suitability As GuardMedium
  • Dog Group Kennel ClubWorking


A rectangular, medium-sized, muscular dog, the Portuguese Water Dog comes in two coat types: one with quite long, wavy hair, and the other with shorter, harsh hair with tighter curls. Show dogs are clipped (on the muzzle, hindquarters and part of the tail). The coat comes in black, white, brown, black and white, and brown and white. Adult males stand at 50-57cm and weigh 19-25kg, and females are 43-52cm tall and weigh 16-22kg.


First mention of a black-coated, shaggy-haired dog similar to the Portuguese Water Dog breed dates back to around the 12th century. They were bred to help retrieve nets for the fishermen and to assist with any other work in the water, such as taking a net to another boat. He would guard the boat when necessary. The Portuguese Water Dog's numbers declined in the 1960s as fishing methods changed and he was no longer needed, and was listed as the rarest pedigree dog, but interest in the breed as a show dog and a family companion has replaced his traditional fishing role.


An even-tempered, active dog, the Portuguese Water Dog is bold and quick to learn. Loyal and alert, he makes a good watchdog in the home, and although he can have a stubborn streak if not correctly motivated, he is usually obedient with his loved ones.


As with many breeds, the Portuguese Water Dog can suffer from hereditary eye disorders and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. They should also be DNA tested for a rare but serious inherited heart condition that can occur in the breed.


The Portuguese Water Dog needs at least an hour's daily exercise, preferably much more. Unsurprisingly, he's a real 'water baby' – not just paddling in ponds but enjoying a good dive! Do ensure he is on lead in areas where the water may not be safe (on frozen lakes etc).


Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.


As already described, there are two hair types in the Portuguese Water Dog breed. Both need regular grooming and, if you want to keep the dog in show trim, regular clipping. Many pet dogs are clipped all over in an attractive 'puppy' type trim. The breeder will advise you on the full details of grooming when you purchase the puppy, or you can use the services of a professional groomer, of course, although the additional, regular expense will have to be considered.