Portuguese Water Dog Pros And Cons

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on 6 December 2022

The Portuguese Water Dog is an affectionate, adventurous and athletic dog breed.

Portuguese Water Dog

Breed name: Portuguese Water Dog
Lifespan: 11 to 13 years
Height: 17 inches to 23 inches
Weight: 35 to 60 lbs

They were designated as an all-around fisherman’s helper so they were versatile in performing a number of different tasks around the dock.

As their name suggests, the Portuguese Water Dog hail from the Portuguese coastline where they established a reputation for being hardworking and seaworthy.

The Portuguese Water Dog was recognised as a breed in 1984 following the establishment of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.

At the time of writing, the Portuguese Water Dog is considered the 44th most popular dog breed in the USA according to the AKC’s breed popularity ranking.

In this article, we’ll hear from Catherine (@catherinebucko1) and her experience with Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd), as well as Michael and Neo (@neo.the.portie).

Portuguese Water Dog Pros

Intelligence

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

As you can probably imagine seeing as Portuguese Water Dogs were such versatile dogs, this breed is extremely smart. They’re quick to think on their feet. The American Kennel Club describe the Portuguese Water Dog as “super smart” and “very biddale”, which is to say they’re eager to please and highly trainable.

Catherine shared Moody’s (@portie_moody_the_pwd) curious nature.

He’s easy to train (especially where treats are involved) and very quizzical in nature – you can always tell that he’s trying to absorb as much information as possible from everyone around him and more generally, the environment he’s in.

Michael joked that Neo (@neo.the.portie) is so intelligent that he’s taught his owners a few things too!

Porties are very intelligent – it’s a pleasure to work with them because they learn so quickly. They can, on the other hand, be very challenging, because they also teach us very successfully.

Character

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Portuguese Water Dogs are high energy, tireless dogs that have a fun side that is sure to put a smile on the face of their owners. On occasion, he may play the role of jester but don’t be fooled as a Portuguese Water Dog can quickly outsmart their owners.

Catherine described Moody’s (@portie_moody_the_pwd) friendly personality.

Nice natured, mild mannered, really friendly and social. He’s always happy and almost human in nature, and he is incredibly playful with a good temperament (entertaining and hilarious in equal measure).

Good size

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Members of the AKC’S Working Group, the Portuguese Water Dog will usually be between 17 and 23 inches tall and weigh from 35 to 60 pounds depending on the gender.

Catherine believes her Portuguese Water Dog (@portie_moody_the_pwd) is a compact size.

Although we’re slightly outgrowing the house that we have now, he’s a good size and I’d class him as a medium sized dog. Fortunately, he can still fit in the sports car so as long as he doesn’t grow anymore then we’re all good!

Michael shared that Neo’s (@neo.the.portie) size and endurance levels proved a real attraction.

We choose a Portuguese Water Dog because of their strength and height and endurance so he can join us for example on hiking tours.

Enthusiastic Tail

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

An unlikely pro of owning a Portuguese Water Dog is their amusing movements, according to Catherine (@catherinebucko1).

His bum – well, his tail – I have genuinely never seen a wag like it and his bum swings from the side of one room to the other and it makes me so happy when I see it! The only downside is that it knocks most pictures off the side or glasses when they’re at the same height; as such, we’ve had to switch from red wine to white!!

Hypoallergenic

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

The Portuguese Water Dog has a coat with hypoallergenic tendencies. So if you’re someone who struggles with allergies, there’s a good chance that a PWD won’t trigger an allergic reaction. While they may not shed a lot and have a hypoallergenic coat, their salvia and urine could still trigger your allergies.

Catherine hasn’t experienced any issues with her allergies since bringing home Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd).

As mentioned below, for someone who is extremely allergic to cats and dogs, he’s been a godsend as I’ve always wanted a dog but was worried how it would affect my asthma and allergies! So far, I’ve had zero problems!

Catherine shared an added perk of the Portuguese Water Dog’s coat.

He’s coat is so fluffy and he’s super warm so acts as a hot water bottle – useful in today’s economic climate and ‘energy crisis’!!

Michael (@neo.the.portie) highlighted the Portuguese Water Dog’s potential suitability for allergy sufferers – but highlighted that PWDs won’t be hypoallergenic for every person.

The second very important reason for a Portie was in our case that they are suitable for allergy sufferers. It’s not working with everybody but we tested it before at our breeders house.

Sociable

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Portuguese Water Dogs will benefit from early socialization as puppies to lay down a good foundation for interactions with other people and other dogs. Having said that, Portuguese Water Dogs do tend to be friendly.

Catherine emphasised the Portuguese Water Dog’s friendly nature based upon her experience with Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd).

Loves other dogs – again, going back to the friendly point, he’s so excited when he sees a doggy friend and even when another dog has been less than friendly, he’s still not put off saying hello to the next!

It seems like Neo (@neo.the.portie) is also very sociable.

Our Portie is very friendly minded and open to other dogs (and also cats, cows, horses, goats…

Talkative

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Catherine has a talkative PWD on her hands with Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd).

Moody is super communicative and tries to talk to you which makes you bond even more closely. He really feels like one of the family.

Portuguese Water Dog Cons

Grooming

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

While they’re more hypoallergenic than a lot of dog breeds, Portuguese Water Dogs have substantial grooming needs. Portuguese Water Dog owners will need to dedicate time to brushing their dog to maintain their coats and prevent matting.

Michael explained that Neo’s (@neo.the.portie) hair can mat if they don’t commit to grooming.

Their hair need – especially when it’s longer – regular brushing and care because otherwise it tends to mat. They have also hair inside their ears that needs to be taking care of.

Michael (@neo.the.portie) added that getting a professional groomer can be costly if you decide to seek someone with more expertise and tools to do it.

Their hair need to be groomed three to four times a year. That might cause costs if you are not doing it by yourself.

Expensive

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

If you’re interested in getting a Portuguese Water Dog, you may have to wait some time. Portuguese Water Dog breeders aren’t particularly common and it can take time and patience to find the right breeder and right dog for you. Portuguese Water Dog puppies have an average price of $2000 – $3000 (£1,800 – £2,800 / Eur 2,100 – 3,200).

Michael (@neo.the.portie) underlined that a Portuguese Water Dog is not a common breed.

The Portuguese Water Dog is a not so common and expensive breed, so it can be hard to get a Portie from a serious breeder. In our case it took 1,5 years.

Too clever

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Just like a lot of smart dog breeds, Catherine explained that Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd) is a little too clever for his own good!

Sometimes he’s a bit too intelligent for his own good and knows how to play us off against one another to get what he wants!! His curious nature means that he’s always trying to get up on tables etc to see what’s up there meaning he can easily damage something or himself as he’s been known to eat things he shouldn’t and fall off the back of the sofa!

Michael (@neo.the.portie) added that a Portie’s independent thinking is down to their genetics.

Porties are used due to their genetics to work independently. They will make own decisions as well which could be very challenging but should be guided and accepted.

Chewing / biting

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Catherine admitted that Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd) has been a destructive chewer in the past.

Now this is a big one especially when PWDs are puppies. Moody has been a nightmare in the past but better these days – no clothes were safe and anything expensive now has holes in it. They love a sock, bobble, pair of shoes and destroy an odd pair of sandals every now and again! He’s also taken to eating skirting boards and walls when he’s got a bit bored or we haven’t given him enough exercise through the day. Since he’s got his adult teeth, he’s been a lot gentler thankfully but until then he did scratch and bite arms when playing and my other half has the scars to prove it! NB this isn’t an aggressive action but more playful as they don’t realise how sharp their teeth are!

Eats Everything!

It seems like Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd) has an insatiable appetite.

Not only does he want every piece of food around (including ours), he also loves toilet roll and pretty much anything he can get his hands on. As such, it’s quite expensive to keep him well fed!

Big Dogs

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

Moody the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: portie_moody_the_pwd / Instagram)

The Portuguese Water Dog has an upper height range of 23 inches and upper weight range of 60 pounds, so they can be quite a handful at that size.

Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd) has recently recovered from an injury, Catherine explained.

He’s heavy. Recently, he hurt his leg and I really struggled to lift him so although he is a good size for those wanting a more robust looking dog, it is challenging when an accident occurs. This breed is prone to hip dysplasia too which you can get various tests to check for but if this did happen, their weight is something to take into account!

Destructive Diggers

Some Portuguese Water Dogs like Moody (@portie_moody_the_pwd) can have a tendency to dig and play in dirt.

As such the house, never ever feels tidy these days! You put clean bedding on the bed and within minutes of a walk, he’s straight upstairs on the white carpets and bedding wriggling around and making his mark. He also has a Retriever tendency so has picked up dead animals (parts of deer, snakes, birds) in the past and parades around with them like a trophy !

He loves mud and at some points, it’s felt like he’s digging to Australia. What once was a well-manicured garden, is now one with lots of mole hills…except the mole is Moody!!

High Energy Levels

Portuguese Water Dogs require lots of physical and mental stimulation. Dog walking website WAG recommend around 60 minutes of exercise per day. This is supported by the AKC who suggest vigorous exercise every day to keep them happy and healthy. The organization suggest activities such as obedience, tracking, agility, rally, dock diving and more.

Catherine highlighted Moody’s (@portie_moody_the_pwd) high-energy levels.

Although its great having an active dog, they aren’t for the faint hearted and he needs a lot of energy and stimulation to tire him out. As above, if he isn’t shattered, he starts destroying things either by chewing or zooming around the house and turning every bit of furniture upside down.

Portuguese Water Dogs Commonly Asked Questions

Is a Portuguese Water Dog a good family dog?

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Catherine/Moody: Yes, Moody absolutely loves being around children, other dogs and people – he’s at his most waggiest when he’s in a social environment and can play with those around him. I’m convinced he thinks he’s human!!

Michael/Neo: In general yes. We have three kids (they are almost grown up) and two cats and it´s working fine. Maybe – when you have very young kids – it could be challenging because Porties need a lot of attention, especially in puppy times for education.

Do Portuguese Water Dogs bark?

Catherine/Moody:Moody barks but typically only when he wants attention or wants to play, the rest of the time, he’s reasonably quiet. His does however, ‘talk’ and can get quite vocal – when I go away, I have a call with him and it feels like he answers – is that a bit crazy?! Going back to his bark though, it is deep and loud so would be great to scare off intruders; its just a shame that he’s everyone’s friend so if someone was trying to break in, he’d probably just lick them to death!!

Michael/Neo: Our Portie is not barking a lot. He only barkes when a visitor is coming to our house, but that´s fine for us.

Do Portuguese Water Dogs like to cuddle?

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Catherine/Moody:When they choose to and as time has gone on! Generally, they are a really energetic breed and quite like their independence – everything is typically on his terms!! I have also noticed that Moody is more cuddly in the winter which I think is coat related as he gets very warm in the summer so someone else’s body heat isn’t welcomed! He cuddles more in the morning & when he’s sleepy – every 4am he jumps on the bed, wakes you up by trying to sit on your head and then goes to sleep with belly rubs. Great for him, not great for those who want a full nights sleep!

Michael/Neo: Oh yes, they do. Our Portie has the habbit of leaning towards our legs with his full body weight and a heartmelting look saying: please, cuddle me!

Do Portuguese Water Dogs need a lot of attention?

Catherine/Moody: Hell Yeah! I’m not sure if it’s our doing by constantly being there or giving into his every whim but he has got us wrapped securely around his paws and demands to be the centre of attention constantly!

Michael/Neo: We would say yes. As they are a working breed they need/want to be challenged physically and mentally. On the other hand we always take care not to overstimulate him and to give him plenty of calming time to relax. This is really very important because this breed is very vivacious. They need a loving and consistent education.

At what age do Portuguese Water Dogs calm down?

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Neo the Portuguese Water Dog (Photo: neo.the.portie / Instagram)

Catherine/Moody: We’ve found Moody to be a lot calmer after six months but he is still a puppy (and most certainly has his moments) so I can report back on that in a year or two!!

Michael/Neo: Our PWD is 2,5 years old and his energy level is still very high. Of course meanwhile he gaines a lot of experiences and can handle difficult situations very well.

Can you leave Portuguese Water Dogs alone?

Catherine/Moody: Moody suffers quite a lot with separation anxiety but again, I think that’s because we are at home most of the time and he always has someone with him; he even gets stressed if he’s in the house alone when we’re in the garden and follows you everywhere. Until the evening that is and he wants to sleep, even though he’s allowed upstairs, he typically chooses to stay down and spread out on the sofa (and chew the walls while we’re not watching)! His brothers however, are left on their own for up to six hours and they are ok with that – they just need a bit of training and reassurance that you’ll come back (with lots of treats of course)! Weirdly, he’s also ok when he stays with other people and we’re not around. Moody just loves company!!

Michael/Neo: All Porties want to be with their humans all the time but if necessary our Portie can be left alone for maybe 4 to 5 hours.

Do Portuguese Water Dogs play fetch?

Catherine/Moody: He will but again, on his terms and when he can be bothered! He loves playing with toys and his squeaky ball is his favourite – once he has it, he typically doesn’t let that go!

Michael/Neo: You can learn every game to a Portie, also playing fetch. We never did it.

Do Portuguese Water Dogs shed?

Catherine/Moody: No – they tend to lose a bit of fur every now and again so you find the odd clump, but for someone who is highly allergic to dogs, his coat is perfect for me and (touch wood) I haven’t had to take antihistamines or my inhaler so far!

Although Portuguese Water Dogs are water dogs – do they actually like water?

Catherine/Moody: YES, YES AND DOUBLE YES!! Moody absolutely loves the water and sees every puddle as his own personal swimming pool! Great for him, not great for the carpets in the winter months when we get back home and he’s muddy! Weirdly though he’s scared of the rain so I have to take him to the toilet under an umbrella when the weather turns. Maybe he’s just high maintenance but we love him for it

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