Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

6 May 2023

Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 26 May 2023

Let’s talk about… Portuguese Water Dogs: what are they?

  • As the name suggests Portuguese Water Dogs (also known as Porties) come from Portugal originally, bred to be strong swimmers and support fishermen with their work.
  • They are now popular family pets, with their friendly and sociable natures.
  • They are  known for being very intelligent.
  • Famously the Obama family had two Portuguese Water Dogs, Sunny and Bo, while they lived in the White House.
  • They range in height from 43-52cm for females and 50-57cm for males.
  • Most Portuguese Water Dogs weigh between 25-32kg, with the females usually being a bit smaller.
  • They weigh between 16 and 25kg with the females being smaller than the males.
  • Their lifespan is usually between 10 and 14 years.
Buddy, the Portuguese water dog
Buddy, the Portuguese water dog

What is the temperament of Portuguese Water Dogs like?

  • Portuguese Water Dogs are happy, active dogs, who love to be social.
  • If well-socialised with them as puppies, they tend to enjoy the company of children, dogs and other animals, and can make excellent family pets.
  • They enjoy human company, and love to meet up with their human and doggy friends and family.
  • They are quick to understand things, and are very smart, although if they are bored they can go against instructions.
  • They are very curious, and sometimes their strong nose can lead them off on adventures.
  • They love to retrieve, so can often pick things up in their mouths.

What kind of exercise do Portuguese Water Dogs need?

  • An adult Portuguese Water Dog needs 1-2 hours of exercise a day, making sure that as well as walking and running (and possibly swimming), they get time to sniff and investigate too!
  • Although full of energy, Portuguese Water Dog puppies should get less than this and a basic guide is 5 minutes per month of age. Porties should not be on full exercise levels until they are fully grown, which is usually around 15 months old.
  • They are such intelligent dogs, so mental stimulation is really important too.  They love retrieving and using their strong sense of smell to investigate.
  • If possible, find somewhere safe for them to swim, as they love getting in the water, even better if you have a floaty toy for retrieving!
  • If they don’t get enough physical or mental exercise, they can become bored and destructive.
Portuguese water dog: exercise 4/5; grooming 2/5; trainability 4/5

Do Portuguese Water Dogs need a lot of grooming?

  • Portuguese Water Dogs come in several different colours, including black, brown, white, black and white, and brown and white.
  • Their coats are either wavy or curly.
  • They do not shed much, and are often described as low allergen as a result.
  • They need regular grooming both with brushing them at least twice a week, with a few different types of brush, and also regular groomer visits for clips.
  • Some Porties are clipped with a working retriever clip, which means only their back end is clipped close, but most pet Portuguese Water Dogs tend to get clipped all over, but your groomer can advise.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs easy to train?

  • Portuguese Water Dogs are highly intelligent and respond well to training.
  • Start training nice and early in their life, so bad habits don’t get a chance to bed in.
  • Like any smart dog though they can get bored quickly, and may try to outsmart their trainer, so make sure you are consistent!
  • They love to learn so are great dogs to take to classes like obedience or agility.

Freddie, the Portie
Freddie, the Portie

What do Portuguese Water Dogs eat?

  • Adult Portuguese Water Dogs should eat a complete, balanced dog food twice daily. They can also have occasional treats, but like any dog, watch out for the extra calories. Puppies should initially eat four times a day, then down to three, then to two at six months old.
  • For most Portuguese Water Dogs you can make the change from puppy to adult food gradually at between 12 and 16 months old. Your pet food supplier and/or vet can advise on individual cases and food brands.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs are prone to getting a bit overweight, and you might not notice under the curls! Don’t let them overeat and keep them active and you can help them stay at a healthy weight. If they are an ok body weight, you should be able to comfortably feel your pooch’s ribs, but not count them, when they are standing normally. They should also have a nice neat waist when you look from the top (you might have to get your hands on them for that bit if they’re quite floofy), and they should have a good tuck from their chest up to their tummy.  If you are worried your pooch could be overweight or underweight then contact your vet practice for advice.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs love a good treat as a reward, but like any dog, this should only make up a maximum of 10% of their daily calorie intake.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs healthy?

Like any breed of dog, there are health conditions that Portuguese Water Dog dogs are more prone to than others.

These can include problems with:

Bleeding Disorders  -

  • Haemophilia A - a lack of coagulation factor VIII meaning blood does not clot as it should which can cause bleeding.

Bones and Joints -

  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint.

Cancers -

  • Lymphoma - a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system of the body.

Eyes - There are multiple eye conditions that Porties are prone to, these include -

  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye.
  • Distichiasis - abnormally growing eyelashes which can grow into the eye and cause pain and damage to the eye’s surface.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - over time the back of the eye becomes damaged which can reduce your dog’s vision, eventually leading to blindness.

Hormonal -

  • Addison’s Disease (hypoadrenocorticism) - a condition where your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough of necessary hormones from their adrenal glands.
  • Hypothyroidism - a condition where your dog does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

Neffie, the Portuguese water dog
Neffie, the Portuguese water dog

This list is by no means comprehensive, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if a Portuguese Water Dog is right for you, consult with your vet.

Our vet top tip

Portuguese Water Dogs are fun, friendly dogs, and super smart. So remember it’s important to not only tire out their legs, but give their brain a good work out too!

BorrowMyDoggy loves Portuguese Water Dogs

BorrowMyDoggy has 322 Portuguese Water Dog members.

What do BorrowMyDoggy owners and borrowers say about their Portuguese Water Dogs?

Owner Donna says about Beck:

Beck is a very bouncy puppy who loves getting out and about. He is going to obedience training at the minute and learning super quickly as well as loving being with other pups! He loves a belly scratch, a rope wrestle and playing ball. Beck also loves mental games like hiding treats for him to find "go find it".

And owner Cookie says about Buddy:

Buddy is obsessed with food, playtime and the ball. He's very obedient and follows instructions well and just wants to make you happy. He has a high work drive so loves chasing a stick, swimming and training.

Hear about Rico, the Portie, from owner Michelle:

Rico is a very excitable pup, as most of them are. He loves saying hello to other dogs, sticks (but we like to only let him have bigger ones), his giraffe toy and any and every dog treat someone is willing to give to him!

Portuguese Water Dog Names

The most popular name for a Portuguese Water Dog on BorrowMyDoggy is Holly.

Reilly, the Portuguese water dog
Reilly, the Portuguese water dog

30 most pupular Portuguese Water Dog names on BorrowMyDoggy

  1. Holly
  2. Ralph
  3. Barney
  4. Billy
  5. Bob
  6. Dashenka
  7. Faro
  8. Figo
  9. Jack
  10. Jasper
  11. Loki
  12. Lola
  13. Luna
  14. Millie
  15. Molly
  16. Oscar
  17. Pepper
  18. Pip
  19. Rico
  20. Rio
  21. Rosa
  22. Samson
  23. Sancho
  24. Scooter
  25. Scout
  26. Stella
  27. Willow
  28. Ziggy
  29. Jessie
  30. Ronnie

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian.  Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive.  If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health contact your local vet.

Want to borrow a Portuguese Water Dog in your area? Register for free to discover Portuguese Water Dogs searching for new friends in your neighbourhood!

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