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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Portuguese Water Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Portuguese Water Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

portuguese water dog in the forest

Did you know some dogs have webbed toes? Usually, the dogs with webbed toes were initially bred for waterfowl hunting, and their webbed toes make it easier for them to swim and maneuver in the water. Portuguese Water Dogs, sometimes called Porties, are among the dog breeds that feature these distinct webbed toes that define water dogs.

Breed Overview


17 – 23 inches


35 – 60 pounds


11 – 13 years


Black, brown, white

Suitable for:

Active families, people who like outdoor sports


Active, affectionate, playful

Porties are active dogs bred for hunting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to snuggle up to their owners. They’re as affectionate as they are active and can use that hunting energy for endless playtime!

However, Porties are not recommended for first-time or inexperienced owners because they can be stubborn. While they’re generally considered easy to train, training a Portuguese Water Dog properly requires a good amount of prior experience with dog socialization.

Portuguese Water Dog Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Portuguese Water Dog Puppies

The price of Portuguese Water Dog puppies varies greatly depending on where you get the dog.

Before you buy any dog from a breeder, do your research. There are many amazing and caring breeders who always put the health and safety of their dogs as a priority. Unfortunately, there some breeders who are not as reputable. Never be afraid to ask questions1 about their business, the puppy’s health documents, and about the parents. A reputable breeder can provide all this information to you.

Temperament & Intelligence of Portuguese Water Dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs are brilliant dogs that respond well to training. Because of their high intelligence, they can be stubborn. They’ll want to test your authority at times because they’re smart enough to disagree with you.

Another thing to consider with Porties is that they can become slightly destructive when bored. This is because they are an intelligent dog, so they need stimulation. However, daily exercise and some sturdy chew toys laying around the house will keep your Portie from chewing on things out of boredom, like furniture or shoes.

Since Porties thrive better with stimulation and plenty of exercise, they might not be the best dog for people who are often not at home. People who have jobs or school commitments that keep them out of the house most if the day may not be the best environment for a Portie. However, Porties do not need a large house to be happy; they are adaptable and can live in an apartment if they get plenty of exercise.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Portuguese Water Dogs make great family dogs. They have boundless energy to play with your kids and tolerate roughhousing. Children should always be supervised when interacting with dogs. Still, it shouldn’t be hard to get your kids to learn to interact with your Portuguese Water Dog respectfully, especially since there’s a lot of room for error with these tolerant pups.

A Portuguese Water Dog would be great for people with an active lifestyle. Who wouldn’t love a fluffy companion coming with them on hikes, jogs, or even for a swim (not in a public swimming pool, of course!)?

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Good with Other Animals?

Portuguese Water Dogs are generally friendly. However, they are hunting dogs at heart and may experience prey drives relating to smaller animals like cats or rodents in the house. Be wary of bringing a Portuguese Water Dog into a family that includes small animals as they may view them as prey.


Things to Know When Owning a Portuguese Water Dog

Food and Diet Requirements 🦴

There are no notable differences between the diet of a Portuguese Water Dog and any other dog. Your dog’s diet should be tailored to their life stage rather than their breed. Portuguese Water Dogs have good health outcomes when fed high-quality diets. In general, it is recommended to feed your adult Portie 2½ to 3½ cups of food daily, spread out over two meals.

However, it is worth noting that these dogs may need more food than average. They have very high energy thresholds and may be hungrier than more relaxed dogs. Because of this, they can be prone to becoming overweight as they age, and their energy levels decrease. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight and adjust their food intake based on their current needs.

Exercise 🐕

Portuguese Water Dogs need a lot of exercise. They’ll need at least 45 minutes of vigorous exercise daily to get out all their energy as hunting dogs. If your dog isn’t exercised enough, it may become destructive.

An excellent way to keep your dog well-exercised is to get them involved in dog sports. Portuguese Water Dogs excel in obedience, agility, and flyball.

Something else you should have for your Portie are some toys. As much as we would love to spend every minute of the day with our beloved dog, we do have other obligations. Having a toy, like a ball, will give them exercise and mental stimulation.

Training 🎾

Portuguese Water Dogs respond very well to obedience training because they’re intelligent. They’re eager to please and considered very easy to train, even if they can be a little bit stubborn at times.

Because of their stubbornness, it is recommended that you have experience with dog ownership before bringing a Portie into your family. If you’re unsure of your own experience, consulting a professional dog trainer can help you learn to communicate with your dog and teach them to be a productive and polite member of society.

Grooming ✂️

Portuguese Water Dogs have a unique coat with tightly curled fur and no undercoat. The lack of an undercoat means that they don’t shed. However, they’ll need to have their hair clipped regularly to keep it from tangling and matting.

Health Conditions 🏥

Portuguese Water Dogs are generally healthy dogs. However, some notable hereditary illnesses can be passed down. Any dog you purchase from a breeder should have been screened for hip dysplasia, juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy, progressive retinal atrophy, and storage disease. A responsible breeder should be able to furnish you with a genetic report on your puppy and its parents.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Portuguese Water Dog

1. There are two common hairstyles for Portuguese Water Dogs.

Portuguese Water Dogs can be given one of two haircuts. The Retriever Clip cuts all the fur down to about one inch. The Lion Clip shaves the rump and the muzzle, giving the appearance of a lion’s mane.

2. Portuguese Water Dogs love to chew on things.

Chewing is a natural urge for dogs, and Portuguese Water Dogs love to chew. If left to become bored, your Portuguese Water Dog may start to chew destructively to pass the time.

3. Portuguese Water Dogs have webbed toes.

Webbed toes allow Porties more maneuverability in the water. Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, German Wire-Haired Pointers, and Dachshunds also have webbed feet!

Portuguese Water Dogs
Image By: slipschutz, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

Portuguese Water Dogs are beautiful and unique dogs that make great family dogs no matter what kind of family you have. They’re affectionate, playful, and have big personalities to bring to your home. Even if they aren’t suitable for first-time owners, these dogs have a lot of history and positives to bring to any family!

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Featured Image Credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock

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