Start writing
Share this Story

Meet the breed: Portuguese Water Dog

Jana Randall is a busy mother, loving wife, and active career woman from Arizona. In her free time, Jana writes to cover topics on home, living, and pets, while also working full time and blogging. As interests, Jana enjoys reading, wr...

Everything you need to know about the Portuguese Water Dog

Choosing to add a furry friend to your growing household is a long-term commitment, and picking a breed that fits your lifestyle is the key to a happy home. With over 160 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds, that decision can seem overwhelming. We're here to help you meet the breed that's right for you. If you're looking for a kind, intelligent and natural-born swimmer to bring into your family, learn everything you need to know about the Portuguese Water Dog.

  • Smart
  • Docile
  • Brave
  • Loyal companion
  • Great swimmer


A wonderful swimmer and diver, the Portuguese Water Dog is often referred to as "Cão de Água" (dog of the water). Bred in Portugal to accompany fisherman on trips, this intelligent dog dove for fish, swam messages back and forth and acted as a guard dog of the boat. The Portuguese Water Dog is known for having a lion's cut, which is to aid while swimming in colder temperatures to keep vital organs warm. Nearly extinct, a wealthy Portuguese man brought the breed back, and it is now mildly popular in Portugal and the U.S. as a fishing companion as well as a therapy and assistance dog.

Breed standards

  • AKC group: Working Group
  • UKC group: Gun Dog Group
  • Average lifespan: 11 - 14 years
  • Average size: 35 - 60 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Curly or wavy haired
  • Coloration: Black, white, brown, silver fox, gray or any combination with white markings
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Other identifiers: Medium size with athletic build, black nose, dark eyes, heart-shaped ears, straight legs with webbed feet
  • Possible alterations: N/A

Is this breed right for you?

Extremely athletic, the Portuguese Water Dog does best in an environment that allows it to have high activity and possible swimming opportunities. If not provided with enough activity, it is likely that this breed will have behavioral problems. With a willingness to please, it is easy to train and will need it to keep a calm temperament. An average shedder, the Portuguese Water Dog is hypoallergenic and has simple grooming requirements. Affectionate with all members of the family, it does well with children and other animals if introduced to them young. This breed will do OK in an apartment as long as it is exercised, but it would most likely prefer a yard to romp around in.

Everything you need to know about the Portuguese Water Dog

A dream day-in-the-life

There is no doubt that the ideal day for the Portuguese Water Dog would involve some type of swimming. Whether in its own backyard pool or in a local pond or river, this dog will be the happiest pooch on the planet if it has the opportunity to perform the doggy paddle. Very loving, the rest of its day would happily be spent with its family and end with a jog, as it is known to be a wonderful running partner.

Other breeds you may like

Meet the breed: Poodle
Meet the breed: Weimaraner

Meet the breed: Bichon Frise

New in Pets & Animals

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!

b h e a r d !

Welcome to the new SheKnows Community,

where you can share your stories, ideas

and CONNECT with millions of women.

Get Started