Portuguese Water Dog

Breed History

Portuguese Water Dog Bo at White House

Portuguese Water Dog is a medium build with a thick healthy coat and a powerful curly tail. Big bone with a muscular build for a dog of its size. You will see them with a wavy or curly coat with a robust length of hair. This dog will only be seen with full solid colors with very little white.

They come from Portuguese Algarve Coast where the dog can be found in abundance. Highly respectable dog to the people of the region. Legend has it that you were not on good standing if you were to kill one of these dogs.

Strong resemblance to the Poodle makes people think that they come from this Ancient Water Dog. Most people would consider them cousins from a similar ancestor.

So, the Poodle either comes from them or they come from the same common ancestor. Early descriptions of the Poodle show that they had a longer coat than they host today.

Swimming is one of their strong suits. Coat is water resistance and they can travel long distances in the water. Working in the water was one of their unique attributes that separates them from other dogs including retrieving, gun, or sporting dogs.

Catching fish and rescuing with the people of Portugal has been the reason they are held in high esteem. They have many stories where this dog has saved someone’s life while carrying them to shore.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s family is known to have a Portuguese Water Dog that was given the name Bo. Oval office appearances and pictures with the family were a regular occurrence.


In 1983, the American Kennel Club shows that they got recognition in this year and their Kennel Club has been around since the 1970’s. Fairly recent in comparison to other dogs that have gotten registration a century early with this Kennel Club.

Top 50 every year you can see the high levels of popularity they enjoy. Areas around beaches and water is where you will see a bigger influx of these dogs rather than humid and desert climates.

Working or Utility Dog from any of the major Kennel Clubs so there is no disagreement about where this dogs place should be. Given their work in the water they can be in a different category but due to their working ability there is clear recognition in that area.

Here are the major Kennel Clubs that track their bloodline and have a breed standard for the Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog Size

Male Height: 20-23 inches

Female Height: 17-21 inches

Male Weight: 45-60 pounds

Female Weight: 35-50 pounds

Boy dogs are significantly bigger than the girl dogs and you can notice the difference.

Litter Size

6 puppies are the average litter size for this dog. Breeders should be aware and adjust properly for the size of puppies that will need care for eight weeks until selling to a new owner.


  • Black
  • Brown
  • White
  • Markings- white marks

Solid colors are the norm for this breed. White is a color that is rarer and black is the most common color. Very small marks are good and will be more visible when these dogs are puppies. With white dogs the nose must be black according to their breed standards

Portuguese Water Dog Price

$2,500-$5,000 is the average price you can expect to pay. Papers will cost more than a dog without papers. Although these prices are what you can expect to pay prices vary depending on bloodline, breeder, region, currency exchange, supply, demand, and other business factors.

Without papers you can expect to pay a considerably cheaper price than if they had papers. Beware because you get what you pay for. My best advice would be to understand the standard appearance and colors before getting a puppy and examine the parents and puppies correctly.

That can save you time and money in the long run.


Lion cut – from the tail, not the tip, to the middle of the back and the hind legs the hair will be cut very short while the rest of the body will have the long wavy or curly coat.

Retriever cut – will cut down all the hair into an even and naturally clean appearance.

These two cuts are the most common with the PWD.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brushing this breed will need to happen as often as possible. Daily is the best method but at least weekly and that can turn into a struggle when you try do it yourself grooming with this breed.

Combing needs to happen often to avoid the painful matting and tangling that can happen from neglecting to groom the coat at least weekly.

Bath the dog as you see fit. Some people choose to do this on a schedule because it is better for the time, they have available. Others will bathe when the dog is dirty.

Ears should be clean often. In the next few sections we will talk about this dog getting a lot of ear infections and you should avoid this at all cost. Cleaning the ears once a week will prevent these issues that cost to get rid of.

Nails can be trim from running or walking around your neighborhood which we recommend you do daily. If you don’t exercise the dog, which we don’t recommend, take the time to buy nail clippers or have a professional grooming do it.

Professional help is a recommendation unless you have real experience as a professional groomer. They will help keep the coat in the best condition possible.

Life Span

12-15 years is the lifespan which is a decent age for a dog. Twelve years is a long time and dog owners should be aware. When adopting a dog you will still have a lot of time to spend with the dog if they’re a few years old.

Health Issues

Ear Infections – the hair length and potential matting on the external ear can cause ear infections with the Portuguese Water Dog. Wax and fur in the same area can cause irritation and lead in inflammation. You will notice the dog will itch and scratch in the ear area.

Eye Issues – cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye issues should be taken seriously. Some of these issues can lead to partial or permanent blindness in one or both eyes. Getting the examination yearly will help a trained professional look at the eyes and determine if they have any eye issues.

Hip Dysplasia – so many dogs have issues with the hips all dogs should get an examination at some point in their life. 24 months for dogs who display no issues and right away if they don’t want to exercise. X-ray will tell you if the hips are improper and don’t look regular causing pain and discomfort.

Multiple DNA Tests – there are multiple genetic issues this dog suffers from and you should get a DNA test to find out if they have any of these inherited diseases. GM-1 Storage is deadly, and you must understand the health condition of the PWD.

Teeth – decaying teeth are common, and owners should brush them as often as possible scrubbing plaque from the mouth. A vet can also offer the service or groomers.

Breed Group

Proud members of the Working Group and this is the best place to put this Water Dog. All of these dogs are known to work in multiple capacities to help humans accomplish things it would be hard to accomplish by themselves.

Here are some of the dogs in the Working Group

Exercise Needs

High energy is a term that people use when talking about this dog. No surprise because they are a working dog, but we know better than to put a stereotype on a dog. All dogs have different energy levels even within the same breed.

Exercise requirements will be given by the dog and no human. When the dog is getting enough exercise, you can tell through their behavior. Any time they aren’t getting enough exercise you can also tell through the behavior.

Bad behavior consists of chewing up items, digging, excessive barking, whining, and other issues can arise from not exercising the dog. Immediately increase the exercise until these behaviors disappear.

Good behavior will show you a calm and non-destructive dog that listens on or off leash because of the exercise fulfilling the dog.

Here is what we recommend

Morning: Hour (run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: 30 minutes (run, walk, or treadmill)

These are general exercise guidelines and should be given a chance first and adjust later. If the dog is responding, which they will, you will notice that two sessions is a great way to get the dog under control quickly.

Following the guidelines and still experiencing issues? Make that second session for an hour as well. That should knock off the edge that the dog is carrying around and behavior problems will become nonexistent.

Young dogs need the most runs while adults should show that they need a healthy balance of running and walking. Senior dogs will need the least amount of exercise for fulfillment.

Taking them out on a walk around the block could be all they need. Regardless of age take them out enough for good behavior.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Training the dog should always begin and end with exercise as your foundation pillar. Without exercise the dog will grow up in a way that is not natural. Walking and running are something you see for any animal, including wild dogs, in documentaries. They are walking and running all day long. Why would you not do the same? Almost all dog’s history shows them doing some type of activity exerting themselves on a farm or elsewhere. Always give the dog an outlet. You will spend most of your time in this area.

Commands are a smaller part of their development, but still in need. Although many confuse the purpose of commands it doesn’t teach good behavior. Only exercise can accomplish this monster feat. Repetition is the best way to teach commands and dogs will pick up on the trick, if basic, in two to three days.

Socializing must be after you exercise the dog. For example, wake up in the morning and run the dog for an hour and then go to the dog park. Once you get there the dog might show some excitement which is find if it is a small amount. Once the dog is too excited you might want to take them on another walk at the dog park before you let them inside. If the dog is still showing too much excitement take them home. You have not given them enough exercise for the dog park.

Corrections should be done only to regain the dog’s attention. Getting the dog’s attention can be done verbally, with the leash, or off leash with your hand. After any correction make sure the dog sits or lays down.

Additional Resources