The Portuguese Water Dog is a strong, robust, medium sized, agile dog with stamina and endurance to do a full days work. It should be of substantial bone and well muscled. Its head is large with a broad top skull and muzzle.
It has a coat of non-shedding hair that continues to grow as human hair does. It has no undercoat. The coat can be curly or wavy. The colors are black, white, and various tones of brown; also combinations of black or brown with white. The coat should be clipped in either of two clips. In the Retriever Clip, the entire coat is scissored or clipped to a length of one inch, except the end of the tail which is left long. In the Lion Clip, the hindquarters as well as the muzzle are clipped short, the end of the tail is left long and the coat on the head, neck forequarters and chest is left long.
The breed is loyal, affectionate, energetic, intelligent family companion and watchdog which thrives on and demands human attention. Its appearance often belies its true character. It remains a true working dog, tough and independent at times, not a dog for everyone.
The life expectancy of the average Portuguese Water Dog is 12 to 15 years. They tend to mature slowly and remain active well into their senior years.
Basic obedience training must start from the moment you bring your puppy home. The training and socialization of the puppy actually started in the whelping box with its dam and siblings. In general puppies should not be removed from their littermates until they are about 7 to 8 weeks old. They should also have significant human contact during this time for proper socialization. A foundation of proper training and socialization of the puppy and adolescent Portuguese Water Dog will provide you with an adult Portuguese Water Dog that will be a wonderful companion.
Daily doses of exercise outdoors are a must or the Portuguese Water Dog will provide its own exuberant exercise indoors. Portuguese Water Dogs require an owner as active, involved and intelligent as they are or will soon be running the household and getting into major mischief. The robustness and high spirits of this fisherman's dog should be understood as natural exuberance just as its retriever qualities make it "mouthy" not intentionally destructive. The Portuguese Water Dog has a unique sense of humor, its owner needs a sense of humor too.
Rare is the Portuguese Water Dog that does not like to be in the water. Where access to water is possible, they enjoy playing and working in the water with their families. They can, however, survive quite well in areas where swimming is not possible.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a complex canine that wants love and trust. It needs people, bonds readily, and is loyal to its "crewmates". It thrives as a family member and gets on well with children and other pets. With its sense of humor it will invariably compete for center stage. In its role as watchman, the Portuguese Water Dog is alert and protective rather than aggressive and is cautious and sensible with strangers. It is not successful as a kennel dog. As stated earlier, it is a people-oriented dog and requires prolonged daily human interaction for proper personality development