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Portuguese Water Dogs

About the PWD Breed


Known for centuries along Portugal's coast, this seafaring breed was prized by fishermen for a spirited, yet obedient nature, and a robust, medium build that allowed for a full day's work in and out of the water. The Portuguese Water Dog is a swimmer and diver of exceptional ability and stamina, who aided his master at sea by retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and to shore. He is a loyal companion and alert guard. This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness.

General Appearance

The Portuguese Water Dog is a strong, robust, medium sized and agile dog with the stamina and endurance to do a full day’s work on board the Portuguese fishing boats.  The Breed Standard refers to the PWD as “An animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue. A dog of exceptional intelligence and a loyal companion”. In your home they will exhibit the same characteristics, but in a slightly different fashion.  A PWD puppy is intelligent, mischievous and wickedly funny.  Though each dog has its own personality, PWD puppies can be expected to be rambunctious and demanding, and at the same time affectionate and loving. They require clear and consistent training so that they always understand who is in charge.

A Portuguese Water Dog:

  • requires regular and extensive grooming
  • demands attention and exercise
  • challenges your will
  • needs training and human contact
  • thinks independently
  • voices its opinion
  • greets friends and family with unbridled enthusiasm

Frequently Asked Questions about Portuguese Water Dogs

Do They Shed?
They do not shed very much, but they do shed (all mammals shed at least a little).  Portuguese Water Dogs, as well as other single-coated breeds (Poodles, Bichon Frises, Kerry Blue Terriers, Wheaten Terriers, to name a few), do not have an undercoat that sheds.  That undercoat shedding is what most people with allergies have problems with.

Portuguese Water Dogs are hypoallergenic, right?
Portuguese Water Dogs are considered to be hypoallergenic because they are single-coated.  To be "hypoallergenic" is to have a decreased tendency to cause allergies.  There is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog.  Hypoallergenic dog breeds (single-coated or hairless) will still produce allergens, but because of their coat type will typically produce less than others.  People with severe allergies and asthma will likely still be affected by a hypoallergenic dog. If you have severe allergies it is suggested that you spend time with adult Portuguese Water Dogs before getting one. Many people are allergic to Portuguese Water Dogs, so please be careful.  Spend time with the breed before bringing one into your home as a family member.

Are they good with children?
Portuguese Water Dogs get along great with children.  You need to remember, however, that dogs are not human.  Portuguese Water Dogs will often consider a child as a canine litter mate and could play harder than you would want; and they play with their mouths.  It is important that you never let small children be unsupervised with your dog(s).

Can they stay by themselves all day?
Portuguese Water Dogs are people-oriented and long to be with their "crewmates" or family.  Thus they do not do well in a kennel environment or left alone for long periods of time.

We recommend you read the puppy information on the PWDCA website.

Content with thanks to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America,