Portuguese Water dogs are loyal, loving, athletic, gregarious, independent, brave, intelligent and easily trained companions. They enjoy being around water and their families.
This is a breed that will form close bonds with everyone in a household who lets them, and also makes quick friends. Additionally, most breed members will form an especially close bond with one person to whom they are incredibly devoted and usually stays near to them and would never willingly be out of sight from them.
Some speculate that this intense bonding arose in the breed because the dogs were selected to work in close proximity to their masters on small fishing boats, unlike other working dogs that range out to perform tasks.
They are gentle and patient but not "couch potatoes", and boredom can cause them to become destructive. They require regular intensive exercise as well as mental challenges. Training is important as this friendly and energetic dog is likely to become an inappropriate greeter, jumping on guests. Some Portuguese Water Dogs may walk, hop, or "dance" on their hind legs when greeting or when excited. Some will stand upright at kitchen counters and tables, a habit known as "counter surfing" and is characteristic of the breed.
Portuguese Water Dogs are also very alert and make excellent watchdogs, however, this breed would make a very poor guard dog as they are neither intimidating nor aggressive enough. They are generally friendly to strangers and children and enjoy the attention and playtime these encounters bring. The average Portuguese Water Dog is relatively good with other animals as well, since they do not suffer from major dominance, territorial, or possessiveness issues and have an average-to-low prey drive.
The Portuguese Water Dog is quite unique in appearance providing an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness. However, many Americans mistake the breed for the much more well-known Poodle. The Portuguese Water Dog is a truly medium-sized dog, with a robustly built muscular body, and stout legs. They are a well-proportioned animal, although slightly longer than they are tall. The dog’s hair makes it appear thicker than it is but is still a somewhat thick and stocky breed.
Males typically stand between 20 and 23 inches at the shoulders and weigh between 42 and 60 pounds. While the smaller females stand between 17 and 21 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 35 and 50 pounds.
Portuguese Water Dog eyes are black or various tones of brown, medium sized and set well apart. They have medium-length, heart-shaped ears, that hang close against the head except for a small space at the back and are set well above the line of the eye. The standard Portuguese Water Dog has an abundant single-layered, non-shedding coat that can be black, white, various tones of brown, or a combination of all three colors with either a wavy or curly texture. Their tail is quite long and powerful, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder while swimming. Many families see the size of the Portuguese Water Dog as ideal, given they are large enough to be rough and ready but small enough to easily transport them.