Breed Group: Working
Height: 17 to 23 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 35 to 60 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 14 years
Portuguese Water Dogs are high energy dogs with a lot of enthusiasm. They are outgoing, curious, friendly, and highly intelligent. There’s a lot of dog inside that moderately sized, curl-covered body. Porties love to play in water and will take all the exercise you can give them.
Did You Know the Portuguese Water Dog is a Wonderful Family Dog?
The Portuguese Water Dog used to be a fisherman’s best friend, helping to drive fish into nets, retrieve items that fell into the water, and swim messages from boat to boat.
When the First Family welcomed Bo, the Portuguese Water Dog, to the White House, they put the spotlight on this rare breed of water-loving canine. Fortunately, the Portie likes attention almost as much as he likes playing with children and swimming. An important consideration before diving in to ownership of a Portuguese Water Dog: If you don’t want a dog who prefers to be wet, this isn’t the dog for you. Caveats aside, this curly mop of good natured canine could be just the ticket for your family.
The breed was developed in Portugal, where the breed served as the fisherman’s equivalent of a farmer’s right-hand man. They retrieved nets, delivered messages, and pretty much did anything that was asked of them with enthusiasm and style. Few people need that kind of water-logged helper anymore, so the Portie’s smarts and enthusiasm have been put to other uses. One of the most notable: When San Francisco opened its new bayside ballpark for the Giants, a team of Porties went to work retrieving home run balls out of the water. The dogs, known as the Baseball Aquatic Retrieval Korps, or BARK, quickly became an attraction on their own.
But the Portie doesn’t need paid work; he’ll happily do most anything you want. The dogs do very well at obedience, agility, and other canine sports, as well as more people-based activities such as boating, hiking, and helping the kids chase a soccer ball. The problem won’t be finding things for your dog to do, but rather finding time and energy to keep your dog busy. Don’t bring a Portie into your family unless you have plenty of both to spare.
What about allergies? The jury’s still out. The Portie, like many dogs with coats like the Poodle, may be better tolerated by people with allergies, especially mild ones. Do understand, though, that there’s truly no such thing as a dog that will not cause any allergies. Expect to brush the dog thoroughly at least weekly and have him professionally clipped every other month.
The Portie is a wonderful family dog and typically great with children, although all child-pet interaction should be supervised by adults. Also, because the dog can be rambunctious and some fall under the “big dog” category, they may be too much for toddlers.
Give your Portie plenty of exercise and he’ll be happy in an apartment, a small suburban home, or a vast country estate. Just don’t expect him to handle being alone in the backyard. If you get a Portuguese Water Dog, make him a member of your family, not an outdoor dog.
Other Quick Facts About the Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water Dogs have a wavy to curly coat that comes in a number of colors with or without white markings. Black and brown dogs are the most common; white is the least common.
The Portuguese Water Dog can sport a “lion” clip with a bare rear end or remain fully coated. The profuse coat can be curly or wavy.
A Portie’s curly coat, somewhat more loosely coiled than a Poodle’s, doesn’t shed much, but left untrimmed, will continue to grow indefinitely.