Portuguese Water Dog Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Portuguese Water Dog Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The AKC Standard calls him "an animal of spirited disposition, self-willed, brave, and very resistant to fatigue."
Emotionally the Portuguese Water Dog is stable and sensible. But physically he's lively and athletic, poised for any activity. He loves to play and needs vigorous exercise: long walks, occasional runs, and swimming whenever possible, for he is a master swimmer and diver.
Mental stimulation (agility, fetching, advanced obedience) is just as important to this clever, thinking breed.
When well socialized, his reaction to strangers varies from friendly to polite, but he should always remain steadfast and hold his ground. This observant breed makes a fine watchdog, but not a guardian.
Most Portuguese Water Dogs are accepting of other pets when raised with them.
PWDs are strong-minded, with an independent streak and a wicked sense of humor. Consistent leadership is a must.
A natural retriever, the Portuguese Water Dog is a very mouthy dog who will pick up everything in his path, chew up both edible and inedible objects, and try to gnaw on your hands. Provide a box filled with toys so he can satisfy his oral fixation by carrying something around in his mouth.
Youngsters are especially rambunctious, bore easily, and without enough attention and structured activity can excavate vast chasms in your yard.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium-sized, strong and durable, athletic and agile
- Has a curly or wavy coat
- Sheds less than many other breeds, because shed hairs are trapped in the tousled coat
- Thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities.
- Makes a fine watchdog, but is too polite to be a guardian
- Is usually fine with other pets
A Portuguese Water Dog may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Regular brushing and clipping
- Mouthiness -- carrying and chewing objects, mouthing your hands
A Portuguese Water Dog may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Portuguese Water Dog
If I was considering a Portuguese Water Dog, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Portuguese Water Dogs MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Portuguese Water Dogs can make a shambles of your house and yard.
If you simply want a pet for your family, and don't have the time or inclination to take your dog running or hiking or biking or swimming, or to get involved in agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or tracking, or a similar canine activity, I do not recommend this breed.
- Bounciness. Young Portuguese Water Dogs (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people.
If you have small children, or if you or anyone who lives with you is elderly or infirm, I do not recommend PWD puppies. The temptation to play roughly and nip at moving people is too strong in many young Portuguese Water Dogs.
- Mind of their own. Portuguese Water Dogs are not Golden Retrievers. The best PWDs are very smart and capable of learning a great deal, but they have an independent mind of their own. They can be manipulative and willful. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Portuguese Water Dog to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Portuguese Water Dog Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Grooming. Portuguese Water Dogs have a tousled coat that requires regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming. But don't expect your pet PWD to look like the show dogs you've seen in books or on TV. That particular look takes hours of work by experienced show groomers.
- Shedding. Contrary to what some breeders claim, the Portuguese Water Dog is NOT a good choice for people with allergies. They definitely shed, though some of the shed hair gets caught in the long coat rather than ending up on your floor. Thus, frequent brushing is essential not only for keeping the coat mat-free, but for removing shed hair.
- Health problems. Hip dysplasia, eye diseases, heart disease, skin conditions, immune system disorders -- Portuguese Water Dogs can be risky in the health department.
To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Portuguese Water Dog Health Page.
To learn more about training Portuguese Water Dogs to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Portuguese Water Dog the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Portuguese Water Dog. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Portuguese Water Dog might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Portuguese Water Dog home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Portuguese Water Dog...
When you're acquiring a Portuguese Water Dog PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Portuguese Water Dogs who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
No part of this website may be copied, displayed on another website,
or distributed in any way without the express permission of the author.
PWD photo: © tanakawho and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0