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Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog Breed


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Dog Size

Energy Level

Dog Energy Level


Dog Trainability

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Physical Characteristics:
Height – Female: 17-21” | Male: 20-23”
Weight – Female: 33-49 lbs. | Male: 37-60 lbs.
Energy Level: Moderate
The American Kennel Club recognizes the Portuguese Water Dog in the following colors:

  • Black
  • White
  • Brown

Health & Longevity

Average Life Span: 10-14 years
Portuguese Water Dogs are some of healthiest purebreds in the world, but they are prone to a few minor health conditions that could be a hindrance. These pups, thus far, have only proven apt to develop one serious complication: Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

This condition is a genetic mutation that causes the spontaneous degeneration of the retina in both eyes. This condition is incurable and painless, but it results in long-term vision loss, or gradual, complete blindness. To cope with this drastic loss of sight, pet owners often seek professional help to retrain their pups with distinctive, strong verbal cues. Portuguese Water Dogs who are plagued with PRA can still live lengthy, healthy lives without the use of their vision.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Considered a minor health condition, this ailment is a birth defect that occurs when the hip bone and socket are deformed, causing bone rub, cartilage deterioration, and nerve damage. Symptoms are subtle, but they may include an awkward limp and obvious dislocation of the bone. Surgical intervention is required to correct this condition. If left untreated, dysplasia can result in permanent nerve damage and severe arthritis.

Other minor health concerns that could plague your Portuguese Water Dog are juvenile cataracts, alopecia, and pyoderma. The average lifespan of a healthy Portuguese Water Dog is 10 to 14 years.

Temperament & Train-ability

Notable for their obedience and eager to please nature, the Portuguese Water Dog is a friendly, affectionate pup that would make an excellent companion and overall family pet. These dogs, while great with children, are iffy with other dogs, as they see themselves as the dominants. He also might have a problem with rambunctious, chaotic, loud children, so teach your kids how to play respectfully and quietly when around your pup. Socialization goes a long way towards tolerance and acceptance, especially of other pets.

Exercise-wise, the Portuguese Water Dog is an active purebred who loves to swim. It helps build their strength and keeps their heart healthy, so a lake, pond, or swimming pool are the ideal exercise places for this particular breed. However, on rainy days, or days where swimming is simply not an option, the Portuguese Water Dog would be just as happy cruising the sidewalk with you. Take your pup for a walk at least twice a day for 30-40 minutes each time. Or, let him romp free in a fenced-in backyard for an hour or two.

Portuguese Water Dogs are some of the easiest purebreds to train when they learn that you are the alpha of their pack. Establish your dominance with a clear, strong tone in a positive, kind voice. Issue concise commands, and repeat if you have to. Eventually, these pups will catch on and easily follow your instructions. Praise, encouragement, and treats should be your only forms of positive reinforcement. Never, ever beat your Portuguese Water Dog or use harsh language. This kind of negative behavior will only breed more negative, destructive behavior.


Known for their dense coats of curly, kinky hair, the Portuguese Water Dog needs lots of care when it comes to managing their grooming routine. These pups should be brushed daily with a firm-bristled brush and a wide-toothed comb. Use the comb first from head to tail to unknot any tangles and unkink the start of mats, especially around the ears. Go back over with a brush to soften to curls and remove excess hair.


Portuguese Water Dogs have hearty appetites, which can lead many of these pups to become overeaters. To manage their eating habits and weight, you should begin and keep a routine feeding schedule. One that allows your Portuguese Water Dog to eat 2-3 times a day, with 2-3 cups of dry, nutrient-rich kibble divided into those meals. Several meals throughout the day will give your pup the satisfied feeling that triggers the fullness switch in his stomach and brain.

Hydration is also highly important for Portuguese Water Dogs. Invest in a couple of automatic water bowls, and put one in 1-2 rooms of your home. Refill them each night to give your Portuguese Water Dog a constant source of hydration, especially in the summer months.

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Portuguese Water Dogs are some of the most expensive in the purebred world because of the extensive process that goes towards breeding a pair of these pups. Potential breeders have to go through tons of genetic testing and bloodline tracing to be considered for a mate. These dogs are expected to be of the highest qualities, which is why their health conditions are so few and far between. Their genetics are kept pure through extensive research and tests, so finding a reputable, reliable breeder for your Portuguese Water Dog might be difficult.

You should also prepare yourself for the cost of attaining Portuguese Water Dog puppies. These pups are priced between $2,000 to $2,500 from trustworthy breeders, but some AKC-guaranteed bloodlines have been known to go for $3,600 or more. You also have to factor in the costs of toys, kibble, regular vet check-ups, vaccination updates, and a just-in-case fund for medical emergencies. In other words, the Portuguese Water Dog is a huge expense and big commitment. Make sure you are prepped, planned, and ready for the responsibilities, both financially and personally, as a pet owner.

Portuguese Water Dogs are extremely rare, so it would be highly unlikely to find one at a local animal shelter or rescue group. However, there is no harm in trying. You might find a crossbreed that you are happier with. Adoption fees for shelters vary per state and county regulations, but the general starter fees are between $75 and $250. Additional fees for add-on services and health checks can drive your adoption price to around $400 to $550.

Paws ‘N’ Pups Ranking

Paws ‘N’ Pups ranks every breed out of 4 with 1 being easiest to integrate into your life and 4 being the toughest – The lower the ranking the better.

Ranking takes into account a few basic factors including cost, skill level needed, high vs low maintenance and how critical regular training is to success.Portuguese Water Dogs are a solid 2 on the integration scale. These pups are sweet and obedient, but their overall rambunctious nature, initial expense, and grooming regime are enough to put a lot of pet owners off. However, if you have the funds, time, energy, and love to give, there would be no better companion than this pup.


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