Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water Dog 0
Portuguese Water Dog 1
Portuguese Water Dog 0
Portuguese Water Dog 1

Portuguese Water Dog

Last updated: Aug 31 2023

The Portuguese Water Dog is a dog breed that was mostly used to help with fishing boats. They helped fishermen with their gear and were praised for herding fish into nets and retrieving lost gear. These days they are more of a family pet and a companion breed and have left their working life behind them.

These dogs helped fishermen all the way from the Portuguese coast of the Atlantic to Newfoundland, Canada. They had many jobs on the fishing boats and one of the most interesting jobs was carrying messages from boat to boat.

They are extremely good swimmers because they have webbed feet that propel them through the water like paddles and a thick coat that helps them stay afloat. Their original Portuguese name is Cao de Agua which literally translates as “dog for water”.

Even though they are mostly pets nowadays, their love of water remains intact, just try and take your Portuguese Water Dog to a beach, lake, or pool and you will see.

FUN FACT: Former US president Barack Obama had a Portuguese Water Dog called Bo.

portuguese water dog and obama

Portuguese Water Dog


17-22,5 in (43-57 cm)

Portuguese Water Dog


35-60 lb (16-27 kg)

Portuguese Water Dog



Portuguese Water Dog

Life Expectancy:

11-13 years

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

They are closely related to the Poodle, as is clearly seen in the coats of both breeds. The PWD is active and has plenty of energy to play for hours and hours. They have a clownish personality, and they will do anything to get your attention.

These dogs can have all sorts of different temperaments, but most of them are friendly, playful, alert, agile, and loyal to their family. They are great dog sport competitors and have great results in agility, flyball, and obedience.

portuguese water dog in white house


Portuguese Water Doig has a two-coat type: curly and wavy. Both of these coats are single-coated, and they don’t have an undercoat. Because of that fact, these dogs don’t shed much. Brushes a few times a week will be enough for Portuguese Water Dog to look good.

Portuguese Water Dog coat colors:

  • Black
  • White
  • Various tones of brown
  • Combination of black r brown with a white

The rest is basic care; trim their nails when needed (if they don't wear them down naturally), brush their teeth weekly to prevent tartar buildup and bacteria development. Regularly check their ears for any sign of redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection.

You can wipe their ears with a cotton ball dipped into an ear cleaner. The key for your dog to get used to everything mentioned above is to start early with them. Make a positive experience for the dog, full of praises and rewards, and you can be sure that your dog will enjoy all these things when they grow up.

Portuguese Water Dog


Portuguese Water Dogs are active and require a lot of daily activities to be happy and healthy. With these dogs, you can take long walks, throw them a ball or simply play various games inside. If their physical needs are met, you will have the most lovable and calm dog at home, and you don’t have to worry that your dog will misbehave.

Since this is a versatile dog breed it is a great participant in canine sports such as tracking, agility, rally, or obedience.


Training such an intelligent dog breed is essential for preventing the development of bad behavioral traits. Start training them as soon as they arrive at your house, and if you do not have time to work with such an active breed, maybe it is not the best choice for you. 

If you are interested in properly training your Portuguese Water Dog and are unsure where to start, you can always ask professionals for help. You should make training sessions exciting, and you will start noticing great results in a matter of hours.

Like any other dog breed, the Portuguese Water Dog should start the socialization process as soon as possible. Dogs that are not well socialized are prone to behavioral problems and might react badly to situations they are not familiar with. 

There are many ways you can socialize your Portuguese Water Dog, and the most important thing to do is to get your dog familiar with different situations they can find themselves in.

Portuguese Water Dog


Portuguese Water Dogs are excellent family dogs that will get along with every family member, including children. Take note that kids need to be taught how to properly play and interact with a dog so Portuguese Water Dogs can enjoy their company. If they are raised together from an early age, they will be playing parting, and they will enjoy spending time together.

Other animals

These dogs can get along well with other dogs and can enjoy their company. They are not the best fit for other pets. They have a strong prey drive, so they will most likely try and catch smaller animals such as gerbils, hamsters, squirrels, or rabbits. They can learn to get along with the pets they are raised with, but our advice would be never to leave them unattended.

Health problems

Portuguese Water Dogs are dogs with a life expectancy of 11-13 years. Like any other dog breed, they are prone to some health problems that every (future) owner should be aware of. To be sure that you'll get the healthiest possible dog, never buy a dog from a puppy mill breeder or a pet store. Portuguese Water Dogs can suffer from 

  • Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - Group of diseases that affect the retina and cause it to deteriorate over time.
  • cardiomyopathy

To be sure that your dog will be healthy, always buy him from a responsible dog breeder who regularly tests their breeding dogs to secure that their puppies will be healthy as well

Portuguese Water Dog breeders

If you are interested in getting a dog of this breed, make sure you get it from a reputable and registered Portuguese Water Dog breeder. Responsible dog breeders will take care of the dog’s quality, both physical and mental. Good breeders will advise you on everything related to your dog, from food, socialization, and advice about raising them to their favorite activities.

Make sure to ask the breeder as many questions as possible so you can be sure you made a good decision in bringing such a dog to your home.

Responsible breeders will breed dogs that don’t only look good but have great characters as well. You must find a good Portuguese Water Dog breeder that can help you learn about this breed and make an informed choice about getting a dog with these characteristics. 

If you are unsure whether this is the breed for you, check out this FREE GUIDE that will help you decide which dog breed is right for you.


World Dog Finder team


Updated at31.08.2023.

Breed History

Portuguese Water Dogs lived on Portugal's coast, where they were used to herd fish into nets and retrieve lost tackles. These dogs are known as Cao de Agua in their native land. After the fishermen became more modernized, these dogs almost disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Breed enthusiasts formed a dog club, and they wrote the breed standard.