Portuguese Water Dog Temperament: Are You a Water Lover?

The Portuguese Water Dog temperament is friendly, active and intelligent. Throw in his utter love for the water and Portie's temperament might be a perfect match for you if you can match his energy.

Photo of Portuguese Water Dog Black Outdoors

The Portuguese Water Dog Temperament and Personality

The Portuguese Water Dog, or “Portie,” is a calm dog who loves the water. Despite his calmness, he still needs between 30 minutes to an hour of exercise every day to keep from going stir-crazy.

The Water Dog

If your family is one that loves water – whether you have a pool, love to go swimming, often go to the beach, or enjoy going sailing – then this dog will be in his element with you.

“Water” is in his name, and water definitely is his game.

Friendly: Portie Temperament with Children and Other Animals

The Portie is a friendly dog and, as such, he is good with children and other dogs and pets, provided you raise them together.

He’ll still be nice to other pets while you’re on a walk through the neighborhood, but he is much better with other animals if he knew them from birth.

However, some families may find that their Portie is a bit too enthusiastic for younger children. He may get so excited that he ends up bowling the child over or otherwise injuring the child by accident.

Not a Guard Dog

Despite his love of the water, the Portie would much rather be inside with his family than outside guarding the property. Something else that works against him as a guard dog is his size. He is a medium-sized dog, so his appearance is not exactly threatening.

Photo of Portuguese Water Dog Laying Mix Portrait

Not a Barker Either

If dogs who frequently bark annoy you, then you and the Portie should get along swimmingly. This dog only barks when he has a good reason to do so.

For this reason, while he may not be the best guard dog, he does make a pretty good watchdog.

Active Portuguese Water Dog Temperament

In addition to all the fun he has in the water, the Portie loves to have his fair share of fun outside the water as well. He is a very active breed, and so he enjoys everything from long walks and the occasional run to playing in the backyard.

He does well with apartment life, provided he gets his recommended daily exercise.

Intelligent

This dog is very smart and, as with all smart breeds, you have to keep him just as challenged mentally as you do physically. Train him on new tricks to keep his mind sharp and his interest focused.

Orally Fixated

This is the kind of dog who isn’t happy unless he has something in his mouth. He’ll pick up everything from sticks to toys, chewing on things that may or may not be food. He’ll even nibble on your hands if you get close.

Roamer

If you don’t keep your Portie in a fenced-in yard, he may feel inclined to wander off. Box him in, and you ensure you won’t have to roam the neighborhood, trying to see where he got off to.

The Portuguese Water Dog Appearance

You may think you've never seen a Portuguese Water Dog before, but you have: Bo Obama, the former US President's family dog, was a Portuguese Water Dog.

Photo of Portuguese Water Dog Standing White

A typical Portuguese Water Dog size is between 20 and 23 inches in height for a male and between 17 and 21 inches for a female.

The weight for each gender changes just as dramatically. While the healthy weight for a full-grown male Portuguese water dog is between 42 and 60 lbs. And for a female it’s between 35 and 50 lbs.

As for colors, you can expect the Portie to come in combinations of white with black or brown, or straight-up black, brown, or white.

Other Names

Other names for this dog include the Portie, Portuguese Diving Dog, Portuguese Fishing Dog, or Portuguese Curly Water Dog. He also goes by the Spanish names Pelo Encaracolado or Cao de Agua.

A Brief History of the Portuguese Water Dog Breed

As his name might suggest, the Portuguese Water Dog is a fan of water. In fact, his original purpose was as a helper to fishermen. He even has webbed feet!

That's right; the Portuguese Water Dog would retrieve fishing gear and help fishermen herd fish into nets. Experts believe the Portie originated in central Asia in or around 700 B.C. How they came to Portugal, though, is an unanswered question.

However, some experts believe the Ostrogoths brought them over. They justify this with the fact that the Ostrogoths’ dogs became the Poodle we know today, and there are many similarities between the Poodle and the Portie.

How Do You Train a Portuguese Water Dog?

The Portuguese Water Dog is a smart dog, and as such, he does pretty well with training. While he is a happy dog who is eager to please, he also has a stubborn streak that comes from being independent.

To combat this, you must remain consistent and firm with your reprimands. It may seem like forever, but he will eventually learn who the real pack leader is here – and that it’s not him.

This is a breed who also tends to get bored quickly. This is a common “side effect,” if you will, of an intelligent dog.

When the Portie gets bored, just like any other dog, he experiences difficulty trying to focus on his training. Hold his interest by occasionally spicing things up, like teaching him a new trick.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Portuguese Water Dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

How Do You Groom a Portuguese Water Dog?

For the Portuguese Water Dog, shedding is more of a seasonal thing. He doesn't shed much otherwise. A weekly brushing should be sufficient to adequately maintain his dense coat.

Photo of Portuguese Water Dog Close Up Black Portrait

The Portie is considered “hypoallergenic” because he does not have an undercoat. However, this is not entirely true.

All dogs can cause allergies to some extent, due to their hair and dander. But nonetheless, if you are an allergy sufferer, you may notice you suffer less when you’re around the Portie.

As for bathing, the Portie only really needs a bath when he gets dirty. However, because this breed loves to be in the water, you may need to bathe him more regularly to get the chemicals from a pool – or bacteria from the lake or ocean – out of his coat.

You should cut his nails once or twice a month. A good indicator as to when he needs his nails trimmed is when you can hear them clicking on your hardwood or tile floor.

Staying Healthy: Portuguese Water Dog Health Issues

The Portuguese Water Dog lifespan averages between 11 and 13 years for a healthy pup. However, the Portie tends to mature at a slower rate than other breeds. This means he will act like a puppy for longer than other breeds do, getting the most out of his years.

Illnesses you should look out for that can affect the Portie include:

Porties can also succumb to a condition called Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is the equivalent of suffering a sudden heart attack, and it is specific to Portuguese Water Dogs.

Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy occurs in puppies between the ages of five weeks and seven months old. What's even sadder is that there is no cure for the disease, and there is no way to diagnose it in advance.

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Portie friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.

Exercise

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Portie needs a good deal of daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. Of course, a pool or lake may not always be available, so he’ll have to sometimes settle for a long walk or play session in the backyard.

He loves to exercise his mind as well as his body, so engage him in canine sports involving such things as obedience, agility, and tracking – anything you enjoy that you think he’d enjoy too. Bonus points, of course, if it involves water…

Keep him active, and you keep him happy.

Finding the Perfect Portuguese Water Dog

If you’re considering bringing a Portuguese Water Dog puppy into the family, you can do this in one of two ways: you can buy a Portuguese Water Dog for sale, or you can adopt.

Photo of Portuguese Water Dog Mix Color

Whichever option you choose is up to you, though many choose to adopt simply because it costs thousands of dollars less to adopt a dog than it does to purchase one. However, there is more to consider before you bring a dog home than just the price of the dog.

How Much is a Portuguese Water Dog?

Portuguese Water Dog puppies for sale are, on average, between $2,500 and $2,800 if you buy one from a breeder. The reason for such a steep price is because these dogs undergo a lot of tests to ensure they are in good health before breeders put them up for sale.

If this price is way too steep for your budget, you may want to consider adopting a dog, which usually costs literally thousands of dollars less than buying a dog from a breeder.

Portuguese Water Dog Adoption and Rescue

If you’re looking into adopting a Portuguese Water Dog puppy, you may be able to find one through a Portie rescue organization or from your local animal shelter.

A good resource is the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. They offer information on both Portuguese Water Dog breeders and reputable rescue organizations and how you can secure a puppy through either route.

Something to keep in mind is that while a Portuguese Water Dog for adoption will always cost less than one purchased from a breeder, this is only the price of the dog. You still have to budget for regular needs, as well as occasional ones.

However, adoption is the perfect choice for you if you would rather skip the puppy stage and go right to the trained adult who no longer chews destructively or piddles on the floor. Not to mention the fact that you will be giving a homeless dog a warm and loving home he might never have enjoyed otherwise.

Portuguese Water Dog Breeders

A breeder is a good way to go if you a) want to buy a puppy and b) can’t find the dog you’re looking for up for adoption. However, it’s important you remain vigilant and careful, rather than buy a dog from the first breeder who seems decent.

Check the breeder out thoroughly online first. See what their online presence is like. Any complaints?

Read Our Breeder's Guide

We put together a detailed guide to find and select a dog breeder. You can check it out here to avoid making costly mistakes (like picking an expensive sick Puppy).

And don’t stop there – make sure you get a good look at the breeder’s house before you buy. What are the living conditions of the pups like? How do they get along with their parents?

In fact, watching how the pups interact with their parents can tell you a lot about the breeder. If the parents are aggressive with the pups, and the breeder does nothing to stop it, then the pups can grow up to be aggressive, too.

Make sure you get the correct paperwork before you bring the dog home, too. What I mean is, make sure the breeder can give you the proper health clearances showing the dog passed all his tests.

The breeder should also make herself available for any questions you may have – even years down the line after your purchase.

A Final Word about the Portuguese Water Dog

If you like to swim, go to the beach, or hang out by the lake or local river, then the Portuguese Water Dog temperament will easily make him your best buddy.

As his name would suggest, the Portie loves being around water. He also likes exercise, so if you can combine the two, even better!

The Portie is not too much trouble to groom, though if he spends a lot of time in the water you'll want to give him frequent baths to ensure his coat is clean.

Porties have a natural joie de vivre, or love of life. They love being inside dogs almost as much as they love spending time outside.

Porties are great with kids, other dogs, and different kinds of pets. However, if you have a young child, you may want to wait before introducing a Portie to your home.