Portuguese Water dogs?


Experienced Member
When I watched an episode of dogs 101 featuring Portuguese Water Dogs they captured my attention as a potential next dog. My main interest regarding PWD’s is their aptitude for training and their natural retrieve. My main concern is that they are bred to work all day long and I want to make sure I would be able to provide as much exercise as they needed.

I want to hear about your PWDs.
How much exercise do they truly need. How would you describe what it is like to train them. Are they food and or toy motivated, willing to please, friendly with other dogs? Do they truly want to go-go-go 24/7 or will they relax at various times throughout the day if they have a few hours of exercise and mental stimulation.



Honored Member
You are wise wise wise to try to match your lifestyle with the type of dog you are considering, WOW, wish everyone did that!!

I know nothing of PWD, but, i too, brought home a high energy breed. So i know a lil something about high energy dogs. turns out, even dogs are individuals. My dog suffered such severe malnutrition in his infancy that he is not quite as difficult to tire out as some border collies are, that said, some people might find him too high of energy for their home.

We make our dog run AT FULL SPEED at least once a day, and usually a few times a day, all year round, outside in our own big yard, or, down at the local schoolyard, which is huge and entirely fenced in (most school yards are). Ha, occasionally inside the house, but, inside the house only lasts a few minutes.

We are usually not running alongside, but coaching him to run, stimulating him to run. He understands the chant, "go buddy go!" is time to run about, we get him fired up, (doesn't take much) He loves to run. We egg him on to go faster and faster....and faster.

IN truth, this is not enough running for a dog that is bred to run all day long for hours and hours, but, we make him run FULL SPEED for several minutes a day, usually several times a day.
IF our dog had any social skills, we could also wear him out in doggie daycare, or, agility, but, we just have our own agility set in our yard. A FEW of the items i can bring into the house during wintertime.
We set up play dates for him to play with his dog pals at least once a week, THAT wears him out nicely, too. He only likes a few dogs, so we are limited.

In summer, my dog probably walks about 8 miles a day, i take him for evening walk of 4 miles, and my guy takes hims for about an hour long walk in the morning.
HOWEVER, in the brutal winters we get, we do not walk him nearly that far, not at all, poor dog, he only gets about 30 to 45 minute walks/ twice a day in winter... and if the snow is icecovered, no running,:dognowink: cuz it scrapes up his legs, and yanks on them as they punch in/out of the icecovered snow surface...dang.

soooooooooo, here comes the part i am getting to:
even a high energy breed,---- in the depths of winter----, when our dog is NOT getting enough physical excercize, i mean, only an hour of walk total for entire day, plus the runs, plus making him go up/down stairs a lot, and much playtime/roughhousing, is absolute minimum to keep him sane, and many outings to park walks, about 1x or 2x a week in the winter, etc, if it is tolerable to be outdoors very long, etc,)

-----------can be manageable, evne in winter time, if you are committed to helping your dog find ways to burn off energy without having access to all the physical activity he'd really like. NOt ideal, but, can be done.

BUT i discovered, that---------teaching him tricks WEARS HIM OUT.:dogclosedeyes:

just flat out wears him OUT. like, take a nap pretty soon after, is fully contented, worn out. He settles right down if i wear out his lil mind. ha ha. anyway, good to know, if you do get high energy breed. A few short lessons, scattered throughout the day, helps satisfy him, esp in winter.

Other things we do to keep his energy needs satisfied in winter, is giving him laundry baskets, which he herds inside the house, occasional gnaw things, i make various homemade puzzles with a treat inside--- that he has to work to get the treat out, he gets lots of att'n and play times, goes everywhere we go, trips to Petsmart, or anywhere dogs are allowed to go inside, and Buddy is with one of us almost 24/7, (but he's cool home alone, too)

MY POINT IS, even though IN THE WINTER, Buddy's life is NOT ideal for a high energy breed, we have found ways to help keep him sane on bad weather days, but, not ideal, but, he is kept contented.
It IS a big focus to us,------ that we very much ENJOY doing, (some ppl might not) is, finding places to take our dog, thinking up stuff to wear out our dog, please our dog, stimulate our dog, finding ways to keep him busy as we can in the winter.

We also go to goodwill store, and stock up on cheapo toys, cuz he loves new toys, for really bad bad stormy days, he might get a new toy for his tricks. suddenly a boring day is more fun then.

He also entertains his own self, tossing toys up into air and catching them, all by himself, stoff like that, he loves toys, plays vigorously with some of them. He really does, play a LOT. Is fun to watch, he lets us know IF he wants company, but, he often does amuse his own self for an hour at a pop, with his toys, running around with them, jumping on them, is very physical playtime.

Buddy does get the 'zoomies" on days he is not allowed to run outside (cuz of icecovered snow) well,then, he DOES do laps, at full speed, or as fast as he can, around and around and around INSIDE our big house, up and down the stairs, and then around and around,
we LOVE to watch him do this, he looks so stoked:dogbiggrin: to be running....so even Buddy is participating in finding ways to burn off his energy.
Some ppl might not care for that, indoor zoomies, but, we think it is great, and very much encourage it, very much. We've even re-arranged our furniture to fascilitate this. he also does this when we come home, "victory laps", always has.

(summers are way way easier, WAY easier, he gets plenty of excercise in summer) oh wow, he does. Just outside, running around, in the woods, or swimming, or whatever.
INsummer, we kinda almost make him take a nap now and then, is EASY in summer to wear him out, with really long walks, running sessions, agility in the yard, etc etc.

hopefully, someone who knows about PWD will come along. But, even high energy dogs can be managed, with some effort, in the depth of winter.


Honored Member
so anyway, that is what our dog's life is like in THE WINTER, but, i left out, he DOES chill nicely in the house, he can settle down. So maybe if PWD are high energy, maybe it will be like that for your dog....???

Buddy has zero zero zero behavioral issues (except he hates some dogs) whatsoever, none, he never like, rips up the couch, or anything that signifies a REALLY bored, frustrated dog, he doesn't even rip up his toys.:msnhugegrin:

He only rips up his toys if he is mad about something, like, he THOUGHT he was going to get to somewhere, but, he didn't get to along, well, he might 'kill' one of his lesser toys then. If Buddy 'kills' a toy, is kinda rare, though... i know he is upset about something or getting way too bored/time to find him something to do!!!

Buddy is probably only a medium energy for a border collie, but-------, compared to my friends dogs, he is much much higher than those dogs. but, in truth, my dog is so so much more fascinating than their dogs are. A doglover pal of mine and i were recently swapping out interesting or cute things our dogs did, back and forth, and after listening to what Buddy had done cute lately, she sighed and said, "My dog is such a dud next to Buddy...he just lays around, never does anything like that stuff...":msniwonder:

A higher energy, intelligent dog might take up more time each day, but, you get SO MUCH MORE out the dog, in every way. It's soooooo worth it, in my opinion.

But, you do have to have the time and commitment to dedicate some time and thought into keeping the dog busy or stimulated, but, is NOT like, nonstop all day long. not at all. We are older ppl, in our 50s, we neither one of us much ever jog or rollerblade anymore, but, we are doing it okay.


Honored Member
also, once we were both sick, sick sick. Buddy did okay, kinda, with only getting put out into yard by himself and very lil half hearted playtimes, etc. He was kinda on his own for an entire day, yeah, he complained about it,:dogblink: but he did give up pestering us. He just did his indoor zoomie thing and tried to cope.

On 2nd day, he got just a tad more time from us, but still no walks. He tore up a toy, he kinda whimpered a bit, but, not for long, slumped ot floor with a groan. Had some indoor zoomies that day, too. (we never correct those, but, we probably could make him stop, but, we find it hilarious).

ON 3rd day, he got one walk, a short one. He was antsy, several rounds of indoor zoomies, but, not destructive or anything.
so even Buddy, once lived through 3 reeeeeeeeeally boring days IN A ROW, ha ha, and even day 4 was not a lot to brag about, but, he made it.

Not sure if PWD are similar to border collies' energy needs, but, you also might wanna consider the FUR CARE/grooming req'd on a PWD...but wow, they DO sound like really appealing dogs!!!!!!!!!!


Experienced Member
Thanks so much for offering information and your experience. I am not planning to get a second dog for several years, so I stil have plenty of time to research and decide.

I think I will visit as many breeders in my area as I can to see for myself what they are like.

It is a good point to consider the grooming. I work with poodles and I know grooming PWDs won't be exactly the same but I am guessing they are similar in the amount of time needed for grooming.

Thanks again for your thought about high energy breeds and their needs!


Active Member
I don't have a PWD of my own but I have been around them a lot since the mid-90s. There is a lot of variation in the breed temperament wise, especially in the past 10 years or so. Some have fairly high food/toy/prey drive and high retrieve drive, others are very low drive and not much interested in toys and many are some where in between. They are active and definitely need exercise but they can be good house dogs too, especially once they are mature. As youngsters they can be pretty wild and rather destructive if left unattended. They are a breed who is very devoted to their people, some tend to be one person type dogs but others are more family type dogs. They definitely need a lot of early training and early socialization to grow into well rounded adults. Some can have a tendency to be territorial and protective of their home and yard.

Unfortunately some temperament issues are becoming more and more common in the breed and you definitely should be aware of these issues when looking for a breeder/puppy. These issues include sound sensitivity, sight sensitivity and other fear related issues such as shyness with strangers or soft dogs who easily shut down. The breed should not be that way - they should be exuberant, bold and very work oriented. Your best bet is to try to find a breeder who does more than just conformation with their dogs. If retrieve drive is important to you, be sure that is something that the breeder is selecting for or at least looking for in their litters, as that is not something you can assume you will get in.

PWD puppies are pricey (expect around $1800+) and often hard to find. The breed is prone to quite a lot of health issues and breeders do extensive health testing before breeding including hips, elbows, eyes, cardio and DNA tests. Ask about early cancer in the line, a problem that is sadly becoming more known in the breed. They come in two coat types - the curly, which is Poodle-like and the wavy. Both are very low shedding and both can mat badly if not brushed out regularly. There are also "improper coats" that pop up in litters which can range from a coat like a Flat Coated Retriever to a almost Border Collie looking coat. Obviously the grooming requirements are much less with improper coats but they shed, depending on the amount of undercoat they have.


Experienced Member
Thanks for sharing your knowledge of PWD s! I greatly appreciate your input! I still have a long time to decide before I get my next dog. During that time I will continue to research and figure out where my next dog will come from and what breed they will be. I have a bunch of breeds in mind to check out. What ever the breed is/ particular dog is like I know we will be doing a ton of training!


Staff member
I've met several PWD's, the owners of those dogs think they're absolutely perfect! I met a couple who had 3 PWD and a Spanish Water Dog... they just love them! I know not much except they're grooming requirements are actually not as bad as poodles, as they have looser curls, and an oilier coat, so less easily matted, and easier to brush out... which, as I raised a litter of St. poodles and kept them in show coats for 4 months, I am experienced with them! LOL


Experienced Member
I've met several PWD's, the owners of those dogs think they're absolutely perfect! I met a couple who had 3 PWD and a Spanish Water Dog... they just love them! I know not much except they're grooming requirements are actually not as bad as poodles, as they have looser curls, and an oilier coat, so less easily matted, and easier to brush out... which, as I raised a litter of St. poodles and kept them in show coats for 4 months, I am experienced with them! LOL
I am aware of the amount of work poodle grooming can be. Although, poodles have a range of hair texture. Some mat quite easily and are matted again 5 minutes after they have been brushed others never mat and don't need brushing. My assumption was that PWD's would be the same (having a range of hair textures and matting quite easily to never matting). Is this true?


Staff member
I am aware of the amount of work poodle grooming can be. Although, poodles have a range of hair texture. Some mat quite easily and are matted again 5 minutes after they have been brushed others never mat and don't need brushing. My assumption was that PWD's would be the same (having a range of hair textures and matting quite easily to never matting). Is this true?
It probably is, like I said, I've no real experience with PWD's, but I do imagine that PWD's are similar, as far as range of coats. Though the people I've talked to say they're a tad easier than Poodles... I really dont know.


Active Member
It depends on the Poodle and the PWD you're comparing. PWDs don't tend to have as dense of a coat as a show Poodle does or as curly but some could. There is a range with both breeds for sure. The wavies have a different sort of coat all together.


Well-Known Member
There is a PWD in Siren's puppy class. He's such a gorgeous, laid back, low key dog. He doesn't have much drive for much beside being petted. However I do know two that compete in disc that although are calm dogs they do have that drive to do sports.

I honestly believe the PWD is what people were hoping to achieve when they started breeding Golden Doodles.


Well-Known Member
PWDs are wonderful, driven dogs. Some do sports for the love of it and others do sports for the love of their owner. They're very smart and like the poodle are very multifaceted. I know a couple that herd at least at the novice level. Many PWDs compete in tracking, agility, disc, rally, dock-diving, and their very own water-sports designed to test their natural instincts and what they were first bred for. A lot excel in therapy work too. They have very soft coats that are nice to touch but don't shed like goldens and labs do which may limit their benefit from certain hospital residents.

They're definitely land-sharks but you know all about that if you've had a golden retriever. Chaplin and other porties are very mouthy.

They're goof-balls to be honest. Chaplin is one of the funniest dogs I've ever met. He's very loving, wants to say hi to everyone and craves my attention. He has a very good off switch in the house but is destructive if I leave him alone outside of the crate, mostly because he gets bored quickly and I haven't been exercising him as much as I should (so coooold!).

I'd say they're pretty velcro-y but not excessively. Remember, they were bred to work in close proximity to their fisherman.

You would be wrong to think this breed is naturally docile. I mean, it's not that they aren't laid-back, it's just that they're very exuberant and while they do have an off switch you need to help them find it outside of the house when there's a lot going on. Chaplin can give the "wow he's so laid-back and calm" vibe too at our classes but we're the first ones in the door, we walk to the class, and I have heavy rewards for keeping focus on me that we practice with all the time outside of the facility. He'll certainly need his exercise.

They're a relatively small breed. My male is 50-55lbs but he's much shorter than Baby at 60lbs. He's actually a little on the small side for me.

Most PWDS are very vocal, I'm fortunate mine is not. They are bundles of energy and love to be in your face. Even the best trained porties have tendencies to jump up on you when you come home.

But they're smart, very smart and as a whole are a generally pretty healthy breed with a nice lifespan.

They come in two coat types, wavy and curly. They look pretty similar and both need to be brushed frequently and taken to the groomer like you would for a poodle. But their fur is softer than a poodle's. I keep Chaplin's short.

They're definitely a positive-reinforcement breed. Chaplin's very biddable but he responds so nicely to rewards why teach him anyway else? PWDs can be very stubborn though and can test your patience at times when they think they're going to do what you want but in a "better" way. A lot of portie owners that run agility joke because they never know when their dogs are going to decide they can choose their course better than their owner can.

I don't know why people would try to create a PWD with a poodle and a golden, why not just continue responsible breeding of the portie? You can't out-due the best ;) If it's a size thing, I do know a few breeders that are trying to breed for slightly larger males -- most of those dogs are going out for service work.


Experienced Member
Thanks Kcmetric,

I appreciate the information. It sounds like porties are a high drive/ higher energy 'golden'. Maybe a bit more stubborn though, although I have to say I have met a fair amount of "suborn" goldens, surprisingly enough. I think I will have to meet a few now.

Thanks again for the information I still have tons of research to do, but I am in no hurry.


Well-Known Member
Here is a more reformed version of an explanation I just gave someone on PWDs. Feel free to read if you'd like, I just figured I'd copy and paste it for you just in case I missed something previously...

They’re smart, very smart, and I’m surprised they don’t make it onto intelligent breed lists – I suppose it’s because they’re still relatively uncommon. They can and usually will take advantage of an inexperienced owner/trainer. Chaplin certainly did to me and my trainer had to point this out. He knew just what to do to get the treat when we worked on down stays until she pointed out to me what I was doing wrong and how I was reinforcing his shenanigans.

ATTENTION HOGS! They demand the spotlight, all eyes on them. Chaplin is especially so and often times Baby gets left out because Chaplin is in your face, on your lap, rolling around at your side, demanding your attention. If you like a snuggle bug, these are good dogs for that. They always know where the squeaker is in their toys and love to bite there when you’re on the phone or watching T.V...

Exercise is very necessary though I find that taking him to the dog park has been the best way to blow off steam. However, he does have a great off switch in the home, I’m not sure if this is with most PWDS. There’s something about playing and wrestling with other dogs that takes his energy out better than going on long walks and now that he’s older runs on the beach and such. If they aren’t learning a lot they will also be bored and destructive. These dogs were bred to work and they’re good at it. Similar to poodles, these are multi-faceted creatures. They’re good for carting, water sports, dock diving, agility, nosework/tracking, they’re good at retrieves, and I know of a few that herd. He does love water, though like with any dog, it’s not one size fits all. His mother, for instance, hates water. But Chaplin went swimming even in the winter in ice water without trouble. They have webbed feet and their coat is very dense; a man tried to make hats for sale out of PWD fur but they were a flop, why? Because they were so warm people began to sweat heavily and thus the sweat froze in winter and they got cold again.

Being bred to work they are good at it and most do so out of the joy of making you happy as well as themselves. Positive reinforcement is really the best way to go with these sensitive and sometimes willful/stubborn dogs.

However, when it comes to sports, like agility, when they’re on they’re on, but they are independent and can be defiant, sometimes they decide they know how to run the course better than you instruct them to and there’s really no arguing. If they want to do the weaves and then the tire when you say A-Frame and then “over” that’s how they’re going to do it.

Good watch dogs. The difference between Chap and Baby is Baby barks at anything and anyone he isn’t intimately knowledgeable with. Chaplin on the other hand studies the situation for a moment and then decides to bark.

They are not, however, intimidating dogs. Some dogs, even though they do not look intimidating, can sound like it and deter people before they get a good look. A PWD just sounds comical when they bark. Several of the PWDs that go to our dog park are known for their strange vocalizations and most people get a good laugh out of their barks.

Another thing to comment on, most are very “talkative” dogs, I’m fortunate Chaplin is not; they have a very wide vocal range as well. Some people can’t deal with this.

They’re bouncy dogs, even some of the best trained PWDs can’t control themselves when their owner returns home. It’s been a huge struggle to get him to stop jumping up on family as we enter the house. At least he doesn’t do it to strangers anymore =). They’re also notorious for being counter surfers. Once again, fortunately for me Chappy doesn’t do this one much either (much). When he’s left alone and gets bored he has on occasion leapt up to grab the tea bags in order to decorate my house.

Which reminds me. PWDs are home decorators. Most of them can’t be trusted alone in the house, out of sight and in trouble. No matter how clean you are most will find something to maul and leave a nice mess for your return. Crate training is a must. Some of them grow out of it after 3 or so years and some don’t. These dogs are very mouthy and anything will go into their mouths including you so be sure to set boundaries right away. It has its pros at times… I don’t have to coat his glucosamine and other supplements with peanut butter/other foods like I do for Baby =)

Coat care is high maintenance. These dogs come in two coat types. Curly and wavy. Wavy tends to be silkier and shinier looking while curly lacks some luster. They must be brushed consistently to keep their fur from tangling if kept longer. It’s easiest to keep them in a “retriever clip” but they must get hair cuts frequently like poodles. Most first time PWD owners have to have their dogs shaved down all the way in the first year of ownership because they didn’t realize how matted their dog’s fur got (you can’t really tell just from looking at it). But no, they do not shed (though will lose some hair during brushing) and none of my friends with allergies have had problems with Chaplin. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible and your boyfriend should hang around some before ruling out an allergen possibility.

As a whole they’re pretty healthy dogs, of course always go to a reputable breeder to better insure this.

These dogs are amazing but not for everyone. Loyal, smart, endearing, good work ethic, loving, energetic that will love to assist you with your tasks – he was of great help during my Easter egg hunt. If you think you can keep up with them ok. But it’s something to consider. Have I ever regretting getting Chaplin? Heck no! Not even when I come home to a house filled to the ceiling with torn up tea bags and boxes, destroyed folders, books, and other items I could’ve sworn I left on the top shelves of the house. He just looks up at me with those adorable, soulful eyes and he’s forgiven.

If you're more interested let me know, if you still want one I can give you the name of my breeder to hold onto for the future. She's really amazing and does a great job pairing you up with a dog. All of her puppies are temperament tested by three different professionals. She's sweet as pie and really listened to my needs in a dog as well as every one else's. She actually stays in touch with you, gives a little starter kit for your puppy, makes sure you take a bandana covered with the littermates' scents, etc. She's all around aimed to set you up for success.