Portugese Water Dog

Meet the dog that has moved into the White House! Since Bo’s arrival, sales of the Portuguese Water Dog have spiked, probably because it’s the trendy thing to do. The Portuguese Water Dog originated (of course!) on the coast of Portugal for centuries where the breed assisted fisherman in and out of the water. Here are some facts that may help you decide if the Portuguese Water Dog is the right choice for you.

Common Characteristics

  • Size: 100+ pounds
  • Lifespan: 6 to 15 years
  • Pet purchase cost: $1000+
  • Allergies: Mild
  • Shedding: Mild
  • Primarily suited for indoors


 Common Reasons for Surrender

Rescuers of the Portuguese Water Dog state that this breed is not surrendered often. In the last few years, there were about two dogs per year surrendered to the national club. This may be due to its recent popularity as a member of the Obama family or simply because the dog is a pleasure to own.



The Portuguese Water Dog is intelligent, loyal, and loves to hang out with his family. They are excellent divers and love to play in the water. This breed will retrieve on land or in the water, so keep a few toys on hand.


The Portuguese Water Dog will nip a person if he does something the dog does not like. Because they are territorial, Water Dogs will nip as a warning if someone enters their territory. Part of this is the herding instinct in the breed, which means they try to herd people and nip at their heels to move them along.

If the dog gets left behind all the time, she will be unhappy and become destructive. If trained to socialize as a puppy, the Portuguese Water Dog enjoys going to soccer games and socializing with people and other dogs.  

Sometimes an elderly Portuguese Water Dog can become grumpy and bite people.


EllaJump.jpgSome people cook for their Portuguese Water Dog while others provide a raw meat diet, which can get expensive. Breeders say that a high end kibble that is mostly protein will work for the Portuguese Water Dog. This dog not only swims like a fish, he likes fish-based kibble, too.


Portuguese Water Dogs have a love for water with webbed feet and skin between their toes that help them to swim. In fact, the Portuguese Water Dog will swim with you all day long if you let him. They have tons of stamina. If you have a pool or a swimming area nearby, use it. If not, keep your dog active with two long walks a day. This breed is an excellent retriever so be sure to include toys that he enjoys going after on land or in water.

 Possible Health Issues

This breed is generally healthy except for a few cases of cancer, hip dysplasia, and the aches and pains of getting old.


The Portuguese Water Dog  ideally needs exposure to a swimming pool. They love to swim, retrieve, and even compete at water trials through the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. Or perhaps your family can set up its own competitions. They can live comfortably in any home (remember, this breed historically spent a lot of its time in a small fishing boat) as long as they have enough exercise and exposure to a swimming pool.


The Portuguese Water Dog requires frequent grooming. She needs her coat trimmed every six weeks and her nails trimmed once every two weeks. If you walk your dog in the city, her nails will generally stay filed down from the concrete. Out in the country, she will need more trimming. Bathe whenever necessary. If someone in the family has allergies, you will need to bathe your dog more frequently because he will bring in pollen from outside. This breed does not shed but needs to be trimmed every six weeks.


Portuguese Water Dogs are very intelligent. They get bored with training and learn quickly, so it’s better to train with praise and not use a lot of repetition. If you make them do it again and again they sigh as if to say, “I got it—let’s do something new!” 


A Portuguese Water Dog likes his chew toys, tug of war, and enjoys it when you throw toys into air and chase him around. They love to retrieve and are great dogs for agility training. Most of all, she loves the water.



The Portuguese Waterdog, a Guide for the New Owner by Vern Foster

The New Complete Portuguese Water Dog by Katherine Braund



 We want to thank Portuguese Water Dog Club of America for help with this profile.

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