All About the Breed Portuguese Water Dog

Have you recently fallen for the Portuguese Water Dog or do you simply love rare breeds? Learn all about the breed here, including: Breed History, Personality Traits, Train-ability, Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed, and Common Health Concerns.

Also known as the Cao de Agua Portugues, Portie, and the PWD, the Portuguese Water Dog is an affectionate and easily trainable breed.

But how do you know whether you are ready to purchase a pet and if this breed is right for you?

This information is absolutely necessary in making the decision to purchase a pet.


While the origin of the Portuguese Water Dog has not been well documented, enthusiasts believe the breed can be traced back as far as 700 B.C., though this has never been proven scientifically or otherwise.

Throughout its history, the Portuguese Water Dog has been most commonly used to herd fish into nets and retrieve tackle and other items from the water, proving its superior ability to swim.

The Portuguese Water Dog was first imported into the United States in 1958 and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was formed in 1972. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1981 and categorized into the Miscellaneous Class.

Today, while the Portuguese Water Dog has established an underground popularity, the breed still remains rather rare outside of its native Portugal.

Personality Traits

Best known for its loving and affectionate nature, the Portuguese Water Dog thrives on strong and dependable human relationships. This breed is independent and confident, yet easily trainable. These dogs are very active, love to swim, and enjoy playing games such as fetch and frisbee.


Due to its need for human relationships and eagerness to please its owner, the Portuguese Water Dog generally responds very well to basic training and commands. These intelligent dogs have the ability to learn to perform most any task their trainer is willing to take the time to teach.

This breed is known to be somewhat sensitive to criticism and responds best to positive reinforcement and reward-based training.

Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed

There are many benefits to owning a Portuguese Water Dog. These dogs are alert and energetic, and often quite entertaining to watch when at play. This breed is highly intelligent and can be taught to perform most any impressive trick or task. When properly socialized from a young age, the Portuguese Water Dog gets along well with small children and other pets.

This breed is loyal, loving, affectionate, and obedient, making an excellent family pet and companion alike.

Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to owning a Portuguese Water Dog. This energetic and athletic breed requires large amounts of daily exercise and room to run and play. Anyone wishing to purchase this breed lacking the adequate amount of time and space to dedicate to the dog is strongly advised against doing so.

A Portuguese Water Dog not receiving the proper amount of exercise and space will often act out by destroying property, chewing, barking, whining, and ignoring basic training such as housebreaking.

The Portuguese Water Dog has an impressive and thick coat which requires almost constant attention, brushing, and grooming to maintain its attractive appearance.

As previously mentioned, the Portuguese Water Dog remains rather rare outside of its native Portugal and can prove quite difficult to obtain. Individuals seeking to purchase this breed will often encounter such challenges as inability to locate a breeder, high prices, and being placed on long waiting lists.

Common Health Concerns

While the Portuguese Water Dog is generally known as a healthy and hearty breed, they do suffer from a few health problems, including: hip dysplasia, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, distichiasis - ingrown eye lashes, GM1 Storage Disease - a genetic disease causing abnormal storage of proteins in blood cells, and Juvenile Dilated Cardio-Myopathy - heart failure caused by a recessive gene.

Now that you know all about the breed, do you think you are ready to own a Portuguese Water Dog?

Remember, purchasing a pet is a big decision and should be discussed thoroughly and seriously with your entire family.