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Portuguese Water Dog: Characteristics, Exercise, Health

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About Portuguese Water Dog

Country of Origin, History of Portuguese Water Dogs

The Portuguese Water Dog comes from the coast of Portuguese where it was developed to aid Portuguese fisherman herd and catch fish, retrieve broken nets, or retrieve anything that fell overboard. They carried messages between ships and guarded the catch and boat when in port. The dogs were so valuable that they were considered part of the crew and were given their share of both the fish and the money earned for the catch. Retired fisherman would often rent out their dogs to bring in some extra money.

The prior history is uncertain, but it is believed that the Portuguese Water Dog, along with the Poodle, are descendents of hardy herding dogs breed in Central Asia as early as 700 BC.

The Portuguese Water Dog excels at water trials, agility, obedience, and is a wonderful therapy dog or assistance dog.

Portuguese Water Dog Tools

Breed Selector Tool - is the Portuguese Water Dog the right breed for you?

Is the Portuguese Water Dog the right breed for you and your family?

Find out by using our Free Dog Breed Selector Tool

Check Your Portuguese Water Dog's Learning Style

Are you aware dogs also have a learning style that can greatly affect their ability to housetrain as well as be trained correctly. Evaluate your Portuguese Water Dog's learning style and personality using our free Learning Style tool so that you are better able to provide him with the proper Portuguese Water Dog training methods.

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Do you make these mistakes with your Portuguese Water Dog?

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Portuguese Water Dog Calorie Calculator

Do you know how many calories your Portuguese Water Dog needs every day and how many cups of food you should be giving it every day? Click here to use our Portuguese Water Dog Calorie Calculator.

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A General Appearance of the Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized, muscular dog. The coat is usually curly, but may be wavy, somewhat similar in size and coat type to a Standard Poodle.

Portuguese Water Dogs have webbed feet and dark eyes. The tail is thick and carried high, usually curled over his back with a plume on the end. The overall look of a Portuguese Water Dog is of a well balanced, alert dog with a “let’s go do something fun” attitude.

The Portuguese Water Dog’s head seems massive and blocky. However, without his coat, the dog would be rectangular with a fairly heavy bone structure. His muzzle is wide and his chest is deep and wide.

Coat Color

Portuguese Water Dogs come in black, white or brown, white with dark spots, or black or brown with white markings. There are even a few that are silver or gray. But most are solid black.

Coat Type

The Portuguese Water Dog has a profuse thick coat that may be either Curly or Wavy. The coat is non- shedding and is hypo-allergenic. The Curly coat has cylindrical curls while the Wavy coat falls in gentle waves and has a slight sheen.

The coat is professionally clipped in either the Lion Clip or the Retriever Clip. In the Lion Clip, the muzzle, middle of the dog and hindquarters are clipped close to the body, leaving a long mane around the neck and down the chest and front legs and over the head. In the Retriever Clip, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to follow the outline of the dog. In both, the hair at the end of the tail is left long.


Males are from 20 to 22 inches
Females are from 17 to 20 inches


Males: 42 to 55 lbs
Females 35 to 49 lbs

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Portuguese Water Dog Personality Traits

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Temperament of the Dog

A highly intelligent animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, and brave, the Portuguese Water Dog is capable of working all day – in or out of water. They are highly resistant to fatigue. He is an excellent diver and swimmer and uses his tail as a rudder.

They are loyal companions, very responsive to commands and they follow those commands with great pleasure. They are highly spirited and love to play games like ball and Frisbee® or do agility. They love to be with their family and are especially happy when they do things with an active, outdoors family.

The Portuguese Water Dog is extremely intelligent and will take liberties if you are not consistent in your obedience training. Because of their alertness and breeding for it, they make good watch dogs.

The Portuguese Water Dog puppies are known to be notorious chewers.

These dogs love physical as well as mental exercises. Swimming, jogging and playing all help in its physical exercise.

Dominant behavior and barking both vary with dogs.

Better suited to an indoor or outdoor lifestyle?

The Portuguese Water Dog is a hardy breed and enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle; however, they also enjoy spending time with their families.

Are they suited to homes with kids?

Portuguese Water Dogs are excellent with children and, like most working dogs, usually get along with other dogs without problems. They especially enjoy playing with children.

Portuguese Water Dog Activity Level

How Active is the Breed?

Portuguese Water Dogs are a very active breed with great stamina. They require daily physical and mental exercise. Portuguese Water Dogs love a brisk, daily walk, but would rather have a daily jog. They are great at retrieving and love play time, either in the yard or in the water. These dogs love both physical and mental exercises. Swimming, jogging and playing all help in its physical exercise.

How Much Exercise Does the Dog Need at every stage of its Life?

Portuguese Water Dogs are able to work all day. They have a great deal of stamina. Daily jogs or brisk walks are necessary. They should have a large, well-fenced, yard with room to run and play. Once inside they are calm and obedient.


The Portuguese Water Dog needs regular brushing or combing. It also needs a professional groomer to clip it every 6-8 weeks. The wavy-coated variety is usually closely clipped at the hind quarters and on the nose in a Lion Clip. The curly-coated variety generally gets a Retriever Clip, an even cut of about 1” of hair all over, except for the tail that is close clipped with a plume left at the end.

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Free Portuguese Water Dog Training Secrets

Free Course on Portuguese Water Dog Training & Obedience
Stop All Bad Behavior, Excessive Barking and Biting

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Health and Care

Genetic Problems

Some lines are prone to hip dysplasia and PRA. Verify that parents were tested for GM-1 Storage Disease prior to breeding. It is a fatal nerve disease that appears when a puppy is six months old if both parents were carriers of the recessive gene.

Litter Size: Usually 4 to 8 pups

Life Span: 10 to 14 years

National Breed Clubs

National Breed Clubs

British-Portuguese Water Dog Club of Great Britain-
US – Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc. -


Group: AKC Working Group, KCGB Working Dog Group.

AKC Popularity Ranking: 50

Also Known As: Portuguese Fishing Dog, Cao de agua or Cao de agua Portugues

Train Your Portuguese Water Dog To Listen To You

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  • How to lead and think like a pack dog - the new psychology.

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  • A surprisingly easy way to teach your dog cool new tricks.

  • How to improve your dog's lifespan and keep it from getting overly heavy with a healthy and nutritious diet.

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  • One hidden psychological trigger that all Portuguese Water Dogs have... that practically allows you to "analyze" and "control" your dog's every action.

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Whereas other dog training related web sites and books offer generic information for dogs in general, ours is the ONLY web site that offers PWD information specifically, from a renowned panel of experts - because as you probably know, PWDs have their own special training requirements that other dogs don't have.

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Our Dog Experts

The Portuguese Water Dog training information you will read here was developed by a panel of renowned dog training experts whose combined wisdom represents nearly 100 years of specialist experience training dogs.

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