7 Guidelines for Owning a Portuguese Water Dog

7 Guidelines for Owning a Portuguese Water Dog

So, you’re looking to find a new family pet, work dog, or agility partner and you’re considering a Portuguese Water Dog. You’ve come to the right place to learn all about his temperament: the good and the bad, as well as things you will want to consider, and what it will need from you. Keep reading to learn if this is the dog for you.

1. General Temperament

The AKC Standard describes the Portuguese Water Dog as “self-willed, of spirited disposition very resistant to fatigue, and brave.” Emotionally they are sensible and stable. He loves to play and needs a lot of vigorous exercise; he is lively and athletic and wants occasional runs, long walks, and lots of swimming. As the name suggests, these Portuguese water dog puppies are master divers and swimmers.

Mental stimulation is extremely important for him, so play lots of high-energy fetch games, and if you like, involve the dog in agility or advanced obedience sports. If you’re not interested in having an active pet, then this is the wrong breed for you.

2. Unique Traits

An observant breed, the Portuguese water dog is a great watch dog but isn’t a guardian. He may range in reactions from friendly to polite with strangers, and he should always hold his ground. Most will accept other pets when raised with them. They are, however, strong-minded, and have a big sense of humour. They constantly need leadership to control their independent streak.

This is a mouthy dog that will pick up and chew anything he sees. Always have a box filled with toys so he can carry something around in his mouth.

Puppies will bore easily and are extremely rambunctious. If left alone for too long without structured activity and attention, you will end up with giant holes in your yard.

3. The Ideal Owner

A Portuguese Water Dog might be right for you if you want a dog who:

  • Makes a good watchdog, but is too polite to be a guard dog.
  • Thrives on athletic activities and vigorous exercise.
  • Is medium-sized, athletic, agile, and durable.
  • Is usually fine with other pets.
  • Sheds less than other breeds.

4. The Problematic Owner

A Portuguese Water Dog might not be right for you if you don’t want to deal with a dog who:

  • Is destructive when not exercised enough or is bored.
  • Has vigorous exercise needs.
  • Is rowdy and jumps a lot, especially as a youngster.
  • Is strong-willed and needs a confident owner.
  • Needs regular grooming and brushing.
  • Is mouthy, always carrying and chewing on objects.

5. Avoid Negative Traits

You can avoid some negative traits in a puppy by choosing a reputable breeder and the right puppy. With a puppy, though, you usually can’t tell if he’ll have health problems or inserted temperament issues until he grows up.

You can also avoid some negative traits in an adult dog by choosing one from a rescue group or animal shelter. With adult dogs, it’s easy to see what you’re getting, both health- and temperament-wise.

6. Allergies

Contrary to some claims, the PWD isn’t a good dog for people with allergies to dog dander. While being a low-shed dog, the shed hairs get caught in his coat and need to be brushed out, or he’ll end up with horrible mats. He does produce dander.

7. Health Problems

Some of the more common health problems typical to the Portuguese Water Dog are hip dysplasia, heart disease, eye diseases, immune system disorders, and skin conditions.

Tip: The inheritance of temperament is a lot less predictable than the inherence of physical traits. Temperament and behaviour can also be shaped and moulded by proper raising and training.


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