Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog At-a-Glance

Portuguese Water Dogs have been around for a long time – centuries in fact! As the name suggests, they originated in Portugal and were bred to assist fishermen. Sort of like a retriever, except in the water. They dove in to retrieve gear, message buoys from other boats, and even occasionally rescued people. As excellent all-around swimmers, they were indispensable to those making their living from the sea.

Weight (pounds)
Male: 45-65
Female: 35-50
Height (inches)
Male: 20-23
Female: 17-21
Lifespan (years)

Dog Breed Group

Characteristics Ratings

We rate 19 characteristics for each breed, divided into three categories:
Highest Rated – Characteristics for which this breed is rated 4 or 5 stars (on a 5 star scale).
Neutral Rated – Characteristics that rated 3 stars.
Lowest Rated – Characteristics that rated only 1 or 2 stars.

Highest Rated

  • Good Family Dog
  • Kid Friendly
  • Good With Other Dogs
  • Low Shedding
  • Low Drooling
  • Friendly to Strangers
  • Likes to Play
  • Protective Nature
  • Handles Change Easily
  • Easy to Train
  • High Energy Level
  • Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments
  • Tolerates Cold Climate
  • Good General Health
  • High Intelligence

Neutral Rated

  • Low Amount of Barking
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Tolerates Hot Climate

Lowest Rated

  • Tolerates Being Left Alone

General Overview

These are terrific family dogs and we rank them near the top in this category. They bond closely with family members and are particularly good with children, showing great patience with them.

When it comes to other dogs, Portuguese Water Dogs generally do very well, although they can sometimes be somewhat restrained at the dog park. They can actually prefer the company of their own family over other dogs!

With strangers, they are usually friendly but just a bit cautious at first. These are not the biggest or toughest dogs, but their love of family makes them protective over them and they will bravely confront a perceived threat head-on.

From a maintenance standpoint, Portuguese Water Dogs are a dream. They shed very little, drool even less, and their coats are hypoallergenic! This is the ideal breed for those with allergies. As a plus, they are relatively low barkers.

Also on the plus side, they can be a good fit for those who live in apartments or houses with small yards. They are on the small side for the large breed dog category and thus don’t take up a lot of physical space. So long as you provide lots of exercise and playtime, they will adapt well to a smaller living space.

As is true with many of the more affectionate large breeds, they can suffer from separation anxiety. This is something that will be important for you to learn to minimize.

Speaking of exercise, Portuguese Water Dogs have a tremendous amount of energy and love to swim and play. Unless you can meet their high demand for play and exercise, it would be wise to consider another breed.

For this same reason, they are only a moderately good choice for first-time dog owners. Yes, they are intelligent, friendly, and easy to train. However, their need for plenty of exercise and playtime may not suit everyone’s lifestyle.

When we say they are intelligent, we mean very intelligent. They were bred to take commands and learn new skills and you shouldn’t be surprised if they are even able to occasionally outsmart you!

This means they are also very easy to train, with their eagerness to please and ability to quickly learn new things. They are particularly good at training to perform a specific task and can amaze you with this ability. Just be aware that they do have a minor streak of stubbornness and might need extra encouragement to remain on task. Fortunately, they are very food motivated and treats work well in this regard.

They are fairly hardy dogs and can tolerate a wide range of climates, although they prefer colder weather.

Portuguese Water Dogs are a very healthy breed with few genetic health issues. Their smaller size lets them avoid many of the joint problems that plague the heavier breeds. With a lifespan that can reach or excel 13 years, proper care will give you a wonderful companion for a long time.

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