Country of OriginPortugal
Nicknames and Other Namescão de água português,
cão de água algarvio,
PWD, Water Dog, Portie
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypePurebred
GroupWorking Group
Gun Dogs
Bred ForHerding fish into fisherman’s nets
retrieve broken nets or lost tackle
Life Span11-13 years
Ideal WeightMale: 42-60 pounds
Female: 35-50 pounds
Ideal HeightMale: 20-23 inches
Female: 17-21 inches
Fur TypeCurly or wavy
Common ColorsBlack
MarkingsWhite Markings
AvailabilityCommonly available
AchievementsKnown as ‘dog of water’
Suitable for ApartmentsNo
Used in World WarNo
Most Similar ToIrish Water Spaniel

The Portuguese Water Dog is a breed of working dogs originating from Portugal. These dogs were used by the Portuguese fishermen to drive fishes into nets.

The medium-sized Portuguese Water Dog is an obedient and intelligent dog breed. They are all-rounder fisher dogs. Here is everything you need to know about the breed.

Origin & History

The Portuguese Water Dog is an ancient breed. It is known to have originated in the central Asiatic steppes somewhere around 700 BC. They are either believed to be brought to Portugal by the Berbers or the Goths.

Portuguese Water Dogs were used to herd fishes into nets and retrieve broken nets. These dogs were also used as courier dogs between fishermen and from ship to shore.

A girl with a Portuguese Water Dog on her owner’s shoulder.
Image Source: [email protected]

The Portuguese Water Dog suffered a bad fate as fishing declined in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, Dr. Vasco Bensuade started efforts to save the breed.

In 1958, a rare breed exchange program in the United States first witnessed two Portuguese Water Dogs. The Water Dog grew popular slowly but gradually. The Portuguese Water Dog got its recognition as a working breed by the AKC on January 1, 1984.

Behavior, Temperament & Personality

The Portuguese Water Dog is a very active breed. It has a friendly and affectionate temperament. These dogs enjoy being with their human pack and looking after them. Hence, they have a habit of getting attached to their people and don’t like being left alone in kennel and home.

Talking about the personality, the Portuguese Water Dog has an agile and smart personality. They are tireless and fun-loving dogs with a great sense of humor. In fact, these dogs are independent and strong-willed. But can adapt themselves as good family dogs.

Are the Portuguese Water Dogs child-friendly?

Yes, the Portuguese Water Dogs are very child-friendly dogs. Their lively and friendly temperature helps them to bond with the children very fast. If bonded properly, they are likely to spend most of their time playing with the kids.

Portuguese Water Dog with a boy.
Image Source: Instagram@chambersfugere

However, what is to be concerned is that they can outplay the children while playing. To clarify, their natural instinct causes them to play a bit too rough. So, they must be trained properly and taught to control their mouthing as well. They should also be supervised while with the kids.

Trainability of the Portuguese Water Dogs

Training the Portuguese Water should be relatively easy because of their great intelligence. As they are intelligent, they are pretty good at learning things at a quick pace. Besides this, these dogs are strong-willed and independent which can play a major role while training. So, this should be considered and the dog should be socialized as early as possible.

Fetching with a Portuguese Water Dog.

Facts about the Portuguese Water Dog

Here are some facts about the Portuguese Water Dog breed:

  • The Portuguese Water Dog is also called “cau de agua” or “dog of water.”
  • The late politician Ted Kennedy had two Portuguese Water Dogs.
  • Kennedy gave one of those puppies to Barack Obama.

Common Health Issues of the Portuguese Water Dog

General HealthHealthy
Common Health IssuesHip Dysplasia, Distichiasis,
Abnormally Small Eyes,
Cataracts, Entropion, Addison’s
Vaccination RequiredKennel Cough, Rabies, Canine Distemper,
Canine Coronavirus, Canine Parvovirus,
Leptospirosis, Canine Parainfluenza
SheddingNone to Minimal
DroolingLow Drooler
GroomingAverage Grooming Required
Weight Gain PotentialAverage
Separation AnxietyHigh Chance
Diets and SupplementsProtein:
Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids

Living a normal life of 12-15 years, the Portuguese Water Dogs suffer from various diseases. Some of the diseases are:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary disease caused due to the malformation of the hip joints of the dogs.


Alopecia refers to the condition of losing hairs in a circular and patchy formation.


Seizures are the sudden surge of electrical activities in the brain that usually changes how a dog feels or acts.

Color Patterns

The Portuguese Water Dogs have five different color varieties which are as follows:

  • Brown
  • White
  • Black
  • Black & White
  • Brown & White


A female Portuguese Water Dog is 43–52 cm with a weight of 16-23 kg. Whereas, the height of a male Portuguese Water Dog is 50–57 cm weighing around 19-27 kg.

A Portuguese Water Dog with her puppies.

Price of Portuguese Water Dog

A mother Portuguese Water Dog gives birth to 4-8 puppies at a time. And a healthy puppy will cost you an approximate amount of $2500-$2800 depending on the purity of the breed.

Which dog breeds are they similar to?

Here are some dog breeds that are similar to the Portuguese Water Dog:

Visit Doglime for more dog breeds information.