Portuguese Water Dog

  • Overview

    Portuguese Water Dogs are tireless, athletic dogs who love to swim and play. They enjoy receiving affirmation for their humorous antics and make excellent dogs for active families who can give them the attention they crave.

    Portuguese Water Dogs make the perfect dog for fun-loving owners who are ready to spend significant time training and exercising their intelligent pet. These sociable, active dogs love making their owners laugh with their clownish behavior. They enjoy nothing more than an invigorating swim, and they waterproof coat makes aquatic play a breeze. Throughout history, the Portuguese Water Dog has been prized for his spirited nature, but now, he makes a devoted family pet who will love becoming an important part of your life.

    View Grooming Diagram for portuguese water dog
  • Personality

    Portuguese Water Dogs are lively and energetic dogs who love keeping up with active families. The Portie was bred to be a hard-working water retriever, and many of these traits are present in the breed today. These adaptable dogs love the water. Their webbed feet make them excellent swimmers. They are seemingly tireless swimmers who love spending all day in the water. Porties are independent thinkers who take their family's safety and happiness very seriously. Porties are sturdy dogs who can weigh up to 65 pounds, but some of them play like puppies their whole lives. They require significant vigorous exercise to burn off energy that can otherwise be channeled into mischievous activities, like chewing and barking.

    Porties are very intelligent and eager to please, but they can occasionally out-think and trick their owners. They appreciate praise and love to learn, so they respond well to consistent, varied training that helps them stay engaged. They love to explore and devise their own amusements, but they can be very well-behaved if they are trained early. Like other dogs bred for work, the Portie is happiest when he has a purpose. He loves being given a job to do or a trick to learn. He even enjoys accompanying his family on errands and daily activities.

  • Coat Care

    Portuguese Water Dogs have either wavy or tightly curled coats. They have no undercoat, which prevents them from shedding very much. The wavy coat is shinier than the thick, curly coat, which more closely resembles a Poodle's. The Portuguese Water Dog's lustrous coats are hypoallergenic and waterproof. The coat is available in black, white or brown and occasionally gray. Portuguese Water Dogs are shown in two clips, the lion clip and the retriever clip. The lion clip is very popular in the show ring and requires more effort to maintain.

Portuguese Water Dog
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Even though the Portuguese Water Dog requires less grooming than the Poodle, their coats still require routine brushing and combing to avoid tangling. Wavy coats will require slightly more brushing and trimming to stay out of the Portie's way.

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If you are planning to let your dog spend lots of time in the water, make sure he is bathed frequently so his coat stays clean and his ears don't become infected.

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Hair Clipping

The curly coat must be clipped every 6 to 8 weeks and can become matted if it is not frequently brushed. The Portie's high-energy lifestyle can often cause tangled coats, especially in wavy-coated dogs. Wavy coats will require slightly more brushing and trimming to stay out of the Portie's way.  A Portie with a lion clip is shaved along the underbelly, tail, and legs but left long and evenly trimmed on the chest, muzzle, and the ball of the tail. The working retriever clip, or puppy clip, is clipped short all over. This clip helps the Portie stay comfortable and aerodynamic in the water.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Curly and wavy coated dogs have large, sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Poodles are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.