Portuguese Water Dog - Origin, Trait, Traits, and Care

Portuguese Water Dog: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. In this article from PlanèteAnimal, we talk about the water dog...

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In this article from PlanèteAnimal, we talk about the Portuguese Water Dog. This gorgeous dog may look like the Spanish Water Dog, which we may be more used to, but it has a number of differences from the latter. We are therefore going to introduce you to the Portuguese Water Dog and reveal all the secrets of this wonderful breed. Read on and discover the dog that accompanied Portuguese sailors before the 15th century!

Happy reading!


  • Europe
  • Portugal

FCI Nomenclature

  • Group VIII

Physical Characteristics

  • Rustic
  • Muscular
  • Proportional
  • Long ears


  • Average


  • 45-55

Adult Weight

  • 10-25

Life expectancy

  • 12-14

Recommended physical activity

  • High


  • Society
  • Very loyal
  • Smart
  • Active
  • Docile

Ideal for

  • Children
  • House
  • Walking
  • Allegric people
  • Sports

Recommended climate

  • Temperate

Hair type

  • Medium
  • Long
  • Curly
  • Hard
  • Big

Origin of the Portuguese Water Dog

If you want to know the history of the Portuguese Water Dog, know that this breed is quite old, since it is estimated that specimens already existed in the 15th century. Documents from this period have been found that explain how these dogs accompanied Portuguese sailors on their fishing and trading trips.But it's no coincidence that these dogs have had maritime adventures, as the breed is renowned for its swimming skills and high intelligence. Did you know that their main task on the fishing boats was to dive into the water and make the fish, which escaped them, rush into the nets that the fishermen had set? Sometimes they were even responsible for directing the nets or chasing away the fish that had escaped.

" This dog was so popular that some people nicknamed him portie. Unsurprisingly, thanks to its good eyesight, it allowed shipowners to know when, even in thick fog, other ships were approaching."

Although during the 20th century the breed suffered a serious decline that nearly wiped it out in the 1960s, a group of breeders managed to revive it. She became very popular in the 1980s in the United States and entered the AKC in 1984.Subsequently, the breed spread to Europe and almost all over the world, rising from its ashes.

Characteristics of the Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized dog and weighs between 16 and 27 kilograms for a height at the withers proportional to its weight (between 43 and 47 centimeters). Bitches are smaller in weight and height.

Regarding the characteristics of the Portuguese Water Dog, we would like to point out that his body is very strong, he has powerful and developed muscles and limbs that are as strong as they are powerful. Its chest is wide and deep and its tail is wider at the base and narrower as it approaches the end. Its head is large but well proportioned, its muzzle tapers towards the nose and it has a fairly pronounced stop. The eyes of the Portuguese Water Dog are round, dark and medium in size. Its ears are placed close to the head and the skin of the ears is very thin.

The colors of the Portuguese Water Dog

The coat of the Portuguese Water Dog can be long or short. Short-haired specimens have a thicker, coarser coat, while long-haired specimens have a rather wavy and shiny coat. Regardless of the length, the colors of the Portuguese Water Spaniel are: black, white or brown. All these nuanced and combined colors are accepted.

On the other hand, these dogs do not have a woolly undercoat and do not shed, so they are considered hypoallergenic dogs because their presence does not affect people allergic to dog hair.

Portuguese Water Dog Character

Although the Portuguese Water Dog breed is quite affable, they are not a clingy dog. Indeed, although he is rather independent, he needs constant contact with his family, so he is not recommended if you cannot devote a lot of time and attention to him.

They are very intelligent and active animals, so they need a lot of stimulation, both physical and mental. This is why tracking games, intelligence games or agility circuits are ideal for allowing them to do physical activity while developing their intellectual abilities.

Provided they have been accustomed to them in the most appropriate and respectful way, they are dogs capable of living with other dogs and other cats. On the other hand, it is better not to have one if you have rodents or birds because it is more likely that it will end up attacking them. However, if you adopt a Portuguese Water Dog puppy, it is possible to control this behavior through early socialization. For that, do not miss our article on How to socialize a puppy.

Portuguese Water Dog Care

The coat of the Portuguese Water Dog is not suitable for the novice or the impatient, as due to its characteristics it will take a lot of time and dedication to get it properly groomed.For this reason, it is best that you go to a groomer who specializes in this type of breed.

" As for the maintenance of this coat at home, we recommend at least one brushing per day, with a special brush for dense and long hair. For more information, the following article discusses coat care for this dog in more depth: Portuguese Water Spaniel Coat Care."

Apart from coat maintenance, the Portuguese Water Dog doesn't need much extra care compared to other dog breeds, as they need to be provided with a balanced diet, a access to clean, fresh water, daily physical activity, home environmental enrichment, and lots and lots of love.

Portuguese Water Dog Education

The Portuguese Water Dog is one of the most skilled and intelligent dog breeds out there.To promote the mental development of these dogs, it is necessary to provide them with an enriched environment so that they can exercise their intellect. It is recommended to organize activities where the dog must think of solutions or to carry out complex activities that force him to find ways to achieve various objectives.

As long as you are constant and firm with it, it is a fairly easy breed to educate because it is a very docile breed that learns without needing too many repetitions. We can therefore easily teach them funny and useful tricks, such as opening or closing doors, doing pirouettes, etc. Of course, it must be trained using positive reinforcement and banishment because this would only demotivate the animal and generate the appearance of disorders or related behavioral problems, such as fear, stress or anxiety.

On the other hand, both for the Portuguese Water Dog puppy and for the adult, as we have already pointed out, it is essential to carry out a correct socialization.

Portuguese Water Dog He alth

Although the Portuguese Water Dog is not distinguished by too many diseases that particularly affect it, it seems to have a certain propensity to suffer from hip dysplasia. Therefore, you are going to have to take maximum precautions regarding the movements he makes.

Frequent veterinary checks are also necessary to detect joint abnormalities, as well as vaccinations and general analyzes to know the state of he alth of our animal.

It should be noted that the Portuguese Water Dog breed suffers from a rare disease called storage disease. The latter is an alteration in the production of certain enzymes. He can also suffer from other diseases such as alopecia, progressive retinal atrophy or juvenile cardiomyopathy, but let's not panic, because their prevalence is not too high.

How to adopt a Portuguese Water Dog?

In general, finding a Portuguese Water Dog for adoption can be rather complicated and you are more likely to find crossbred dogs. However, when adopting, the breed is not the most important thing, what is really important is that the animal adapts to your lifestyle so that you can cover all its needs and so offer him the best quality of life. That is why, before making the decision, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons.

Once the decision has been made, we recommend that you visit shelters and animal welfare organizations to ask if they have a Portuguese Water Dog up for adoption. If they don't have one, try to see if the current doesn't pass with another dog from the shelter.

Pictures of Portuguese Water Dog

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