Portuguese Water Dog

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35-50 lbs
Portie, PWD, Cao de Agua, Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dogs were originally bred around 700 B.C. and were used to help fishermen with several tasks in the water. Therefore, they are still known to love swimming and other water sports up to this day! They are lovely, family friendly dogs that get along well with other pets and children. They are known for their signature curly or wavy coat and webbed paws that help them do their job in the water. They are active and intelligent dogs that show talent for many canine sports, like tracking, agility, obedience and learning tricks. However, their high intelligence levels can be a blessing and a curse, as they can sometimes try to outsmart the owners. But with proper training and socialization, these dogs can be well behaved and adapt to any environment.

fishing aid
Date of Origin
700 BC

Portuguese Water Dog Health

Average Size
Height: 20-23 inches Weight: 42-60 lbs
Height: 17-21 inches Weight: 35-50 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Addison's Disease
  • Follicular Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Blood Test
  • X-Rays
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Portuguese Water Dog Breed History

Portuguese Water Dog, the name says it all. These wonderful dogs originate from Portugal, where they were bred to help fishermen who would work between the Atlantic coast of Portugal and fishing grounds in Newfoundland. Their job would be to deliver messages between boats, driving the fish into the nets and retrieving lost items that have fallen into the water. They have various names, including Portuguese Fishing Dog and, commonly in their homeland, Cao de Agua, which translates into dog of the water. This breed is thought to be a descendant of the well known Poodle, which is another popular dog breed that was also bred as a water retriever, but was instead created in Germany. Although the Portuguese Water Dogs were very skilled at their job, these dogs came close to becoming extinct in the early 20th century, as the fishing industry was becoming more modernised and began to replace the dogs with machinery. It was thanks to Vasco Bensaude, who was a lover of the breed, that the Portuguese Water Dog is still around today. Other fans of the breed began writing breed standards and formed a club that was exclusive to the breed, and eventually these dogs began to make their appearance in dog shows. Skip forward several decades, and the Portuguese Water Dog is seen in England and the United States. It was in 1983 that the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was founded earlier in 1972.

Portuguese Water Dog Breed Appearance

These dogs have single coats, which means that they do not have an undercoat. This can be either wavy or curly, and can be black, silver fox, gray, white, a variety of brown shades or a combination of black and white or brown and white in color. Many owners of these dogs will get them clipped in a lion cut or a retriever clip. They are medium sized dogs that have muscular bodies, with straight and level toplines. The head, which will be slightly bigger in length than the muzzle, is broad and domed shaped with a well defined stop. The noses will be broad and black, with teeth that meet in a level scissors bite. These dogs have medium sized dark, round eyes, with heart shaped ears that are high set and hang down. The Portuguese Water Dogs have tails that are thicker at the base and will taper out. They have straight legs with feet that are webbed, which helps them with swimming.

Eye Color Possibilities
Nose Color Possibilities
Coat Color Possibilities
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Portuguese Water Dog Breed Maintenance

This breed will do best in homes with large and fenced in back yards that will allow them to play safely. However, they can adapt well to any home, including apartment life, as long as they do get enough exercise. This can be jogging, a long walk, going for a swim, playing fetch or any other forms of activity that will take between 30 minutes to an hour each day. It is important for your Portuguese Water Dog to get enough activity time, as they can become destructive if their energy does not get used. They do like to chew, and should have access to several chew toys, otherwise they could decide on their own what can be chewed on. They should be fed twice a day, and should get a daily amount of 2.5 to 3.5 cups. Your pet should be combed or brushed two to three times every week to prevent tangles, and the fur should be trimmed monthly. If your dog goes swimming often, they will need to be rinsed off with fresh water in order to remove any damaging chemicals. It is also important to properly dry off the ears after bathing and swimming, as damp ears can develop infections. Your dog’s teeth should be brushed two or three times in a week, but every day is best. Nail trimmings should be done once or twice a month.

Brushes for Portuguese Water Dog
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Daily Weekly Monthly

Portuguese Water Dog Temperament

The Portuguese Water Dog is a kind and loving breed that loves to play and clown around to get your attention. They are very intelligent, and are in fact smart enough to out think you, so owners will need to be careful. The overall temperaments of these dogs will vary among individuals. They are intelligent and will learn new tricks and training quickly. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train them, and avoid repeating the same exercise endlessly. This breed is known to do well in agility, obedience, working in the water or tracking. They can also be good therapy dogs, and are talented at learning and performing tricks as well. Portuguese Water Dogs behave well around children, with the only potential issue being that their high energy levels can be intimidating. These dogs also do well around other pets, like dogs and cats, especially if brought up together.

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
10 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes

Portuguese Water Dog Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
Daily Cost
$1.2 - $1.4
Monthly Cost
$34 - $45

Portuguese Water Dog Height & Weight

6 Months
Height: 12 inches Weight: 17 lbs
Height: 10 inches Weight: 12 lbs
12 Months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 30 lbs
Height: 14 inches Weight: 22 lbs
18 Months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 47 lbs
Height: 18 inches Weight: 37 lbs

Top Portuguese Water Dog Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Portuguese Water Dog breeders of 2017.
Portuguese Water Dogs of Success
Beatrice, Nebraska
Windward Portuguese Water Dogs
Galloway, Ohio
Stowaway Portuguese Water Dogs
Gadsden, Alabama
Aguas De Seda​ Portuguese Water Dogs
Naples, Florida
Calypso Portuguese Water Dogs
Palm City, Florida
Rustyco Portuguese Water Dogs
Stockton, California
Odysea Portuguese Water Dogs
Arvada, Colorado
DoMarco Portuguese Water Dogs
Bloomington, Indiana
Sonrisa Portuguese Water Dogs
Castleton On Hudson, New York
C-Lion Portuguese Water Dogs
Bedford, Massachusetts

Portuguese Water Dog Owner Experiences