The Portuguese Water Dog!

The Portuguese Water Dog, also know as the Cao de Agua, and at times affectionately called the Portie, is known for its exceptional swimming ability, which is attributed to its webbed feet. It is a tough, dynamic, brawny dog that is of slightly greater length than its height. It shows flexibility and stamina by working in or out of water for extended periods. It has a thick, protective, wavy coat that easily sheds off water. It has ears that are heart-shaped and hang down the sides of the head, dark eyes, and a level or scissors bite. Its strong legs are parallel and straight, while its tail is thick from the base and narrow at the tip.

Some Quick Facts:

Life Expectancy:
11-13 years

Energy Level:

Living Conditions:
Indoors/Outdoors. Suitable for apartment life so long as it is given plenty of exercise.


Exercise Needs:
Long daily walk or jog. Regular retrieving opportunities.

Breed Group:


17 to 22 inches

35 to 55 pounds

Standard Hair Colors:
Black, brown, or white, or a dual, contrasting combination of these.

National breed club:
Portuguese Water Dog Club of America

Portuguese Water Dog Skills

The breed was once prized in Portugal as a fishing aid, having the ability to steer fish into the fishermen’s nets, as well as carry messages on water between boats. The Portie was also capable of guarding its handlers’ boat and the day’s catch at the port. These days, the breed does well as companion, therapy and assistance dog, though may also do well at water trials, agility, and competitive obedience.

Portuguese Water Dog Personality

The Portie loves water, and is a fairly affectionate breed. It loves spending time with its people, as it is quite obedient, fun loving, and friendly. It is quick to learn and generally well-mannered, though young ones are notorious for chewing on just about anything.

Exercise Needs

The Portuguese Water Dog loves a little retrieving practice or playing catch on water every now and then. It does well with daily workouts of both mind and body, and will make a good companion for jogging and long walks.

Living Conditions

Apartment living, with access to a small yard, is possible with the Portuguese water dog, as long as it gets sufficient exercise. It needs to live around its family and spend the day in the backyard to keep it happy.

Grooming Requirements

The coat of the Portuguese water dog requires moderate grooming, though it has minimal shedding, which makes it an ideal pet for those with allergies. It needs regular combing and brushing, as well as clipping once a month. For show, the acceptable clips are the retriever and lion clips.

Health Issues

Main concerns to look out for are hip dysplasia and PRA. Other possible problems are distichiasis and glycogen storage disease.

If you liked this dog…

Another curly-coated water dog, and equally fun loving, is the American water spaniel, which can retrieve just about any quarry over land or water. It is also affectionate, intelligent, and active.


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