What are they like to live with?
The UK breed standard states:
Characteristics: Very intelligent and tremendously energetic ‘fisherman’s dog’ with great swimming and diving traits.
Temperament: Pleasant disposition, self-willed but very obedient to owner. Brave and tireless.
From the ouset it is important to note that PWD are not a breed suitable for everyone.However, we believe that with the right feeding, training, exercise and mental stimulation PWD’s can be the perfect family dog capable of doing almost anything asked of them. However all potential owners need to know that Portuguese Water Dogs are strong-minded, with an independent streak so your consistent, strong leadership is a must.
Known for being a loyal, friendly and intelligent dog that likes nothing better than to please, they become valuable members of a household and like nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on around them.
The PWD is tireless and, although keen to learn, they do have a very definite streak of obstinacy, being wilful and determined, traits that need to be controlled from a young age as, without firm direction, they may become unruly.
The PWD is the eternal optimist of the dog world and always ready to join in activities, especially games and they definitely prefer company. They mix well with other breeds of dog and have a seemingly endless supply of energy, They are well suited to canine activities such as agility and working trials and although quite capable of obedience exercises to a very good standard they are likely to find obedience work at a higher / elite levels a little stifling for their exuberant nature. They prefer more physical activities which allow them the freedom to express their personality.
PWD will walk to heel on a lead, but it takes persistent training, without it they have a tendency to pull.
Portuguese Water Dogs are very excitable and a bouncy breed. This should be taken into consideration when purchasing a puppy. This can be managed by teaching them impulse control. However, people that own the breed or are thinking about purchasing one, understand that this is a strong part of their character and are loved for it.
As well as being an excitable breed, Portuguese Water Dogs are a natural retriever. This instinct is strong so tugging and chewing tendencies can be strong. They like to explore the world with their mouth, carrying things or picking up any object they desire. To help satisfy their mouthing / oral fixation, they need to be provided with plenty of toys. It is important to remember that they will mouth (this is different to biting) and any children in the home need to be fully supervised & taught how to behave around a dog.
They love being around humans and often attach themselves to one. Separation anxiety is likely to develop in this breed if their physical & mental requirements are not met – they need at least 30 mins to 1 hour per day of vigorous activity. PWDs like to be in sight of their human, they often do not like to be left alone. We have found that with careful training PWD’s can be left in outdoor runs during the day.
Because they are so intelligent, Portuguese Water Dogs need to be given the right amount of daily mental stimulation, otherwise a dog could develop some unwanted and destructive behavioral issues around the home. We would strongly recommend that all PWD are fully trained or at very least attend basic dog training or good citizen classes.
PWD have a multi-octave voice, because of this, their bark and other sounds they make are very distinctive. They may well ‘talk’ to their owners.
PWD are renowned for jumping as a greeting and owners may need to limit this behavior, especially if they have children or visitors. Some PWDs will stand upright at kitchen counters and tables, especially if they smell food above them. This habit is known as ‘counter surfing’ and is characteristic of the breed.
PWD love to have their bottoms scratched and will often reverse up to you to demand attention.
PWD will find the weakest member of the family and will try to persuade the human to feed them from the table with a gentle nuzzle, pleading look or paw.
PWD can often lie across your feet while you are cooking or working, acting as the perfect footwarmers.
PWD will tolerate cats if brought up with them in the home but are likely to chase unfamiliar cats, squirrels and birds.
They are a long lived dog - with a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years.
Height at the withers: Males 50 - 57 cm, Females 43 - 52 cm
Average weight: Males 19 - 25 kg, Females 16 - 22 kg
PWD can take longer to mature than many dog breeds, 2+ years. It is important to consider this when training your dog or exploring Neutering - castration for dogs or spaying for bitches.
This is not a breed for everybody, being a coated dog (requiring high levels of grooming), with a lively outgoing character with a willful mind of its own. They are gentle & patient - but boredom can cause them to be destructive. In the right hands with correct training, they become valued members of a family that will repay the time and love invested in them.