Photo by © Ian Dennis

Portuguese Water Dog - Breed Profile:

Origin: Portugal
Colors: Black, white, various shades of brown
Size: Medium
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
Dominance: Moderate
Noise: Average barker

Physical characteristics

The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium size hardy dog with a muscular built and good boning. The body is slightly longer than tall. The topline should be straight and level. The chest is deep, with the brisket reaching to the elbows. The head is large, broad and rounded at the top. The stop and the occiput are pronounced. The heart-shaped ears hang down, but they should not hang beyond the lower jaw. The eyes are dark. The teeth should meet in a scissor or level bite. The tail is thick at the base and tapering to the end. The gait is lively and well-balanced.
Portuguese Water Dogs weigh 35 to 60 pounds. The height is 17 to 23 inches.


Lively, affectionate, sensible and loyal. These dogs have a good sense of humour; they're fun to have around. The Portie loves to be in the spotlight of attention. Highly intelligent, trainable and brave. Generally, the Portie has a naturally stable and obedient temperament. Dominance, barking, and indoor activity level varies greatly from dog to dog, even in the same litter. If you're the first time dog owner, it is highly recommended to choose a puppy with a more submissive temperament. This extremely smart dog will try to take over if it feels it is stronger minded than its owners. The Portuguese Water Dog requires daily vigorous exercise. Puppies are notorious chewers. Be sure to provide them with things they are allowed to chew on. This breed is excellent with children and usually gets along well with other dogs and pets.

Coat and grooming

The profuse coat covers the entire body evenly; it is slightly thinner at the area where the forearm meets the brisket and in the groin area. The dog has no undercoat, mane or neck ruff. The hair can be wavy or curly. Regular grooming is necessary, although the coat doesn't shed much. In show dogs, the two typical clips include the Lion clip and the Retriever clip.
The coat can be black, white, and various shades of brown. Combinations of black or brown with white are also common.


Puppies should be tested for GM-1 Storage Disease, a fatal nerve disease that appears when a puppy is six months old. Some individuals can be prone to hip dysplasia and PRA. The lifespan is 12 to 15 years.

Other interesting facts

Referred to as the Cao de Agua ("dog of water") in its native Portugal, the Portuguese Water Dog was bred to accompany fishermen on their boats. An exceptional swimmer and diver, the breed used to retrieve broken nets, dive for fish, carry messages between boats and to shore, and guard the boat for its master in foreign ports.