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8 Portuguese Water Dog Pros & Cons to Know Before You Get One


Jun 10, 2023
portrait of a white and black Portuguese Water Dog wearing a collar


portrait of a white and black Portuguese Water Dog wearing a collar

Portuguese Water Dogs (AKA PWDs or Porties) are some of the most gregarious, playful dogs you can own, and their curly coat is simply to die for. However, as with any dog breed, you should be aware of both their pros and cons before welcoming a bright-eyed Portuguese Water Dog into your home. It’s essential that you carefully evaluate both when deciding whether a PWD is the right dog for you, so let’s dive into all the good and bad stuff you need to know about down below.


The 8 Pros & Cons of Having a Portuguese Water Dog

The Pros

There’s a lot to love about Portuguese Water Dogs, from their whip-smart intelligence, low-shedding coat, unbridled zest for life, and more. Let’s delve into some of the major reasons why a Portuguese Water Dog would make an irresistible addition to your home.

1. Easy to Train

PWDs are very clever canines with an eager-to-please mentality, so training them is usually a fun time for everyone. They can be sassy and funny, but it’s never mean-spirited. The AKC notes that the Portuguese Water Dog is both biddable and super smart, which is a perfect combo for new would-be dog parents.

As with all dogs, consistent positive reinforcement is your best friend. They have an inquisitive nature, too, and you can almost see the gears turning in their little furry heads when they’re exploring or figuring out how things in their environment work.

Portuguese Water Dogs
Image Credit: slipschutz, Pixabay

2. Less Allergenic Than Other Breeds

While no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic, the Portuguese Water Dog comes close. They shed much less than other fluffy dog breeds, making them ideal companions for allergy sufferers. Bear in mind that they can trigger allergies with dander and saliva, so that will take some regular cleaning with a high-quality vacuum to mitigate.

Keeping their coat trimmed will also help minimize shedding. The less fur they have to begin with, the less hair there is to trigger dastardly allergies! Not to mention your vacuum will thank you with fewer trips to the trash bin.

3. Friendly

There’s not a mean bone in the Portuguese Water Dog’s body, though they’ll be a little warier around strangers than family. They warm up fast, though! Combined with their attractive, manageable size, the PWD’s outgoing personality makes them great companions for children.

They love frolicking in the yard, lounging in a doggy pool, running some laps, and chilling at your feet later in the evening. Sometimes mistaken for sassiness, a Portuguese Water Dog’s frequent goofy antics are really just attempts to amuse you and bond.

close up of a black portuguese water dog
Image Credit: Zadranka, Shutterstock

4. Playful

Portuguese Water Dogs are a high-energy breed that can keep up with the most active households. True to their name, PWDs are adept swimmers, but they’re happy to join you on a morning jog too. Expect plenty of trips to the dog park and lots of playtime. Porties need plenty of mental stimulation as well as raw exercise.  That means toys like tug-of-war ropes and puzzle-feeding toys like stuffed Kongs, but their playfulness helps them thrive in agility or advanced obedience training too.

The Cons of Having a Portuguese Water Dog

Being a dog parent involves walks in the park but isn’t entirely a walk in the park. Besides the typical responsibilities of caring for a dog, Portuguese Water Dogs have a few notable downsides you should be aware of. They range from minor to deal breakers, so join us down below and judge for yourself.

1. Expensive

Porties are a rarer breed that is difficult to find outside of professional dog breeders. Of course, these breeders command a high price—prices hover from $2,000 to $3,000 or more depending on your area and availability. That’s not even going into the vaccines and vet visits you’ll need to pay for as well.

All told, you should expect to take a serious look at your finances and see if you can realistically afford not only the price of a puppy but their care as well. Dog food, toys, leashes, collars, doggy beds, and all the other must-haves aren’t cheap!

black portuguese water dog looking up
Image Credit: janeb13, Pixabay

2. Requires Frequent Grooming

Despite their minimally shedding coat, the Portuguese Water Dog’s thick, plush fur needs regular grooming to stay clean, healthy, and presentable. You’ll need a sturdy double-sided de-shedding brush, with both a soft-bristled side and a pin-headed side. The latter is for untangling mats, while the former side is for redistributing oils in the fur to restore its natural luster. Ideally, you want to brush your Portie once or twice a week after a nice bath to keep their coat in good shape.

Trimming their fur is also necessary to keep it from becoming unkempt and matted. The retriever cut is the most popular haircut for PWDs, which is sort of a short cut all over with an emphasis on the dog’s face and rear end. A showier alternative is the lion cut, which is longer but harder to maintain. We recommend a retriever cut if you’d prefer to minimize time spent brushing, but the lion cut is gorgeous if you’re willing to put in the work.

3. Almost Too Clever

The phrase “too clever for their own good” could have been written about Portuguese Water Dogs. They’re typically eager to please but may have an independent stubborn streak—every pup is different. That means they can wander off to investigate new or interesting things at a whim, with no mind for the damage they can cause.

That translates to being more careful about where you put things with your dog in mind, as well as keeping them engaged enough to not seek entertainment elsewhere. They pick up new things easily but can be surprisingly sassy when they feel like it.

brown and white portuguese water dog puppy
Image Credit: Melchor Gama, Pexels

4. Prone to Boredom

Like many energetic breeds, the Portuguese Water Dog can get frustrated and anxious when they’re bored. If you miss a walk, they will let you know one way or another. That could be chewing up your shoes or digging craters in your yard, but the point is you want to keep them busy. An hour of exercise daily is a good place to start, but you may want to dial it up if your PWD still shows signs of boredom at the end of the day.



Portuguese Water Dogs are criminally underrated considering the pros. They’re intelligent, eager family companions with a charming sense of humor and gorgeous coats. If you’re up to the task of keeping their fur in good shape with regular grooming sessions and can afford their care, a Portie might be the perfect dog for your home!

Featured Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

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