By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 27th October 2022

Portuguese Water Dog


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 27th October 2022

The Portuguese Water Dog is indigenous to the Algarve region of Portugal where it served as efficient assistants to fishermen. Besides a rugged and well-proportioned body, some of its common characteristic features include large, well-proportioned head, medium sized well-set eyes, leather, heart-shaped ears, broad muzzle, and a thick, low set tapering tail.

Portuguese Water Dogs Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesAlgarvian Water Dog, Portuguese Fishing
CoatCurly (compact with cylindrical curls, lacking shine); Wavy (A little shiny with gentle waves)
ColorBlack, white and brown with markings of white
Breed typePurebred
GroupWorking dogs, Sporting dogs, Waterdogs
Average life span 10 to 14 years
Size Medium
HeightMale: 20 to 23 inches; Female: 17 to 21 inches
WeightMale: 40 to 60 pounds; Female: 35 to 50 pounds
Litter size4 to 8 puppies
Behavioral characteristicsAthletic, adventurous, affectionate, independent, loving, intelligent
Good with childrenYes
Are they apartment dogsNo
Barking tendencyModerate
Climate compatibility Adapts to temperate climates
Shedding (Do they shed)Moderately
Competitive Registration Qualification/ Information AKC, FCI, CKC, ANKC, UKC, NZKC, KC (UK)

Portuguese Water Dog Puppies Video

History and Origin

At one point of time, these dogs dwelt on the coast of Portugal as a trusted companion of the local fishermen. Besides herding fish into their nets they would also help in retrieving the broken fishing nets and lost tackle.

Because of their strong, muscular built and hardworking demeanor, they were banked upon by the fishing folks, often seen riding on trawlers that traveled along the Atlantic surrounding Portugal, to the chilling waters of the Iceland coast. With modernization and technological advancement, their importance reduced, putting them almost on the verge of extinction.

However, it was the significant efforts of Vasco Bensaude, an affluent businessman, that saved these dogs from perishing.  Dr. Manuel Fernandes Marques and Dr. Francisco Pinto Soares, two vets from Portugal, also assisted him in his endeavor. Dr. António Cabral had founded the Alavade kennels and had registered his first dog in 1954.

Their popularity, not just remained confined to their native land but spread worldwide and one Mr. Deyanne Miller was responsible for their prominence in the United States of America, who also pioneered the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. It attained AKC’s registration in 1984 in the month of January.

Temperament and Personality

These efficient working dogs are also smart and fun loving, emerging as great companions. Besides their family, most of them are friendly and cooperative towards strangers, though some might have a watchful and reserved tendency. These dogs, however, do not show aggression, though exceptions could be observed in some.

They have a humorous side to their character, leaving you in complete awe with their clownish antics. The PWDs vary in temperament, while some could be highly laidback, a few may possess a strong-willed nature.

Though not excessive barkers, they have a multi-octave vocal range, with a clear, distinct bark, that may be emitted during times of crisis. This trait of theirs make them serve as deaf assistance dogs. They have also been trained to vocalize at a high pitch at the ring of a telephone and then to alert their deaf master about the same.

They share a good rapport with children of the family; however, keeping their rambunctious nature in mind, supervision is needed when they are interacting with little ones. They are even comfortable with other canines as well as cats, especially when raised together.



Owing to their active nature, these dogs need regular exercise lest they may be destructive. Keeping their water dog lineage in mind, swimming could be a great sport to involve them. Because of their big size, they are more suited for spacious homes than compact apartments.


Like the Poodle, they are known to have a hypoallergenic coat, that could be of a lion cut (the coat on its muzzle, hindquarters and base of the tail are clipped close to its skin) or retriever cut (recent trend where the coat is evenly distributed all over its body).
Make it a point to brush your PWD on a routine basis, at least twice or thrice a week to keep its coat free from all matts and tangles. Its coat should also be trimmed once in two months, as if left unattended the hairs would grown longer, and the ones located in the region of its eyes could even impair its vision.
If you have taken your dog for a swimming session, then rinse it well in fresh water to eliminate the harmful chemicals from its body. Wipe it thoroughly using a dry cloth, particularly around the area of its eyes and ears.
Other grooming needs include cleaning its eyes and ears regularly, trimming its nails once or twice a month and brushing its teeth twice or thrice a week.

Health Problem

Some of the health conditions this breed may suffer from are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy, and GM1 storage disease.


They are intelligent dogs with an ability to learn quickly. Hence training them would be easy, though one needs to handle them firmly and tactfully.

  • Socialization training imparted to the Portuguese Water Dog puppies would help them identify between a threat and a pleasant situation, thus preventing them from greeting every stranger in a friendly manner.
  • Obedience training, particularly teaching them commands like “stop” and “come” would help in instilling a sense of discipline in these dogs.


A good quality dry dog food would sans artificial colorings would be perfect for your Portuguese Water Dog. While giving it homemade food, make sure to give it in measured amounts and even consult your veterinarian in this regard. Foods like cottage cheese, cooked eggs, and fruits can be given but should form less than 10% of their diet. A raw diet can also be simultaneously incorporated after a vet’s recommendation, but avoid giving the wings and necks of chicken.

Poodle vs. Portuguese Water Dogs

Both of them are water dogs with a high level of intelligence, having a close to similar look. However, they may differ from each other in a host of ways.

  • The PWDs have a more robust and sturdily built than Poodles.
  • The Poodle mostly has a curly coat while the Portuguese Water Dog’s coat could be curly or wavy.
  • The Poodles are friendlier with kids than the PWD.

Interesting Facts

  • The prestigious Obama family of the United States of America own a female PWD named Sunny since 2012.

One response to “Portuguese Water Dog”

  1. SuziQ says:

    Need to know what size they are. I need a short-haired one!!

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