Are Portuguese Water Dogs Good for Families? What You Need to Know

Photo from: pico_o_portie (IG)

Portuguese Water Dogs are well-known to be great family pets. They’re affectionate, smart, and gentle around kids and other smaller pets due to their low prey drive. These dogs are highly trainable. You can teach them house rules and manners without the headache. 

The Portuguese dog breed is ideal for families, but not just any family. Their perfect match is those who have a deep interest in getting to know how this pooch acts and behaves, including what they need. Learn more on why they should be considered as your family’s next addition. Keep reading!

Get To Know the Portuguese Water Dog

Every Portuguese Water Dog is different, and the best way to get to know them is to spend time with them first. However, you may still learn about what to expect by getting to know them generally. Here is their basic information in certain areas:


Porties are medium-sized dogs. They can fit well in apartment-type spaces provided, of course, that they get to go outside from time to time. Their height ideally starts at 17 to 23 inches with a weight that is 35 to 60 pounds, with males being typically taller and heavier.


Your Portie may sometimes be mistaken for a Poodle. This is all because of their coat similarity. The Portuguese breed may feature two varieties which are compact and wavy, and they’re only available in black, brown, and white.

The eyes are brown and gentle-looking, and their button noses come either in black or brown.  Knowing the physical features of a Portie is crucial so you’d be able to further determine if the dog suits your taste appearance-wise. 


It’s a given that Porties are highly-trainable as long as they’re with the right owner. Their working history is epic as they worked with fishermen, and it’s worth noting how high their independence level is too. They may be stubborn, but with positive reinforcements, a Portie would easily follow their master’s commands.

When trained from puppyhood, they’ll master several pieces of training like:

  • Potty training.
  • Crate training.
  • Basic obedience.
  • Verbal commands.
  • Other advanced drills.

Grooming Needs

Indeed, a dog won’t be excellent for a family if it has been assessed that the pooch’s grooming requirements can’t be adequately met by his humans. In the case of the Portie, they aren’t that high in maintenance in contrast to a Poodle, but they do require to be groomed every month or so due to their coat’s quality.

Health and Lifespan

You’re definitely in for a lot of good memories with a Portie as they live an average of 11-13 years. This is a healthy breed, after all, although they can be prone to a few minor health issues like progressive retinal atrophy. 

Learn more about the breed: Portuguese Water Dog 101: The Essential Guide

4 Things to Consider When Getting a Portuguese Water Dog

It’s certainly worthwhile to get a Portuguese Water puppy for your family. The breed has proven itself to be ideal, especially since they’ve been former President Barack Obama’s top pick as White House pets. Though you may be excited to get one for yourself, here are 4 things you should consider first before getting a wonderful pooch of this breed.

1. They Require Mental Stimulation

The last thing you’d want is to see your Portie bored. In the Intelligence of Dogs by Dr. Coren Stanley, the breed impressively ranks 28th. This tells that any prospective owners should commit to religiously training their Porties and making use of their strength and smartness. 

Read more: Are Portuguese Water Dogs Smart? 4 Ways To Increase Their Intelligence

2. They Need Socialization

Your Portie requires getting exposed to different scents and faces. Of course, there has to be an interaction. Bring your pooch to parks or doggy daycare, so they can mingle with other dogs. Doing so will make them lower their guard and not be too overly unfriendly at the sight of a non-threatening person or dog.

3. They’re Sensitive 

Sadness, happiness, jealousy, you name it. Your Portie can feel a wide range of emotions. This is why harsh punishments and verbal abuses are discouraged because these only negatively impact a dog’s behavior. Instead, understanding, patience, and rewarded behaviors are what put your pooch in a better mood and behavior.

4. They Require Constant Grooming

The long, curly hair of the Portie has to be checked regularly, and make sure it doesn’t matt or tangle. Brushing them thrice a week is needed, and monthly trimming their fur will keep them in shape as well as hygienic.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Affectionate?

Portuguese Water Dogs are affectionate with their owners. Once the meaningful bond has been established, the family is set to have a loyal dog for life. You can quickly find out if your dog is being affectionate if they make eye contact or if they jump excitedly the moment they see you.

A study shows that positive interactions between humans and dogs trigger oxytocin which is responsible for reducing stress and reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels. Aim to spend time with your Portie often, and you’ll witness their genuine ways of showing that they love you.

Reading tip: Do Portuguese Water Dogs Like to Cuddle? 3 Reasons + More to Know

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Great With Kids?

Trained and socialized Portuguese Water Dogs do well with kids. Males may tend to play rambunctiously, but as long as they’re monitored, no mishaps would happen. They are up for games and activities, too, making them the suitable companions to drain out the infinite zest of your children. 

Gender plays a lot when it comes to behavior. If you prefer a Portie that’s more strict; then a female would be the best option. They’ll treat your little ones like her puppy and would even protect them to bits.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Great With Pets?

Big or small pets, the Portuguese Water Dog will treat them with respect, love, and kindness. As long as you’re not mixing your dog with another family pet that’s aggressive, the atmosphere at home will be calm and peaceful.

Cats and rabbits won’t find it difficult to bond with your pooch. Just make sure they’re familiar with each other and are equally socialized early.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Great With Other People?

Expect your Portuguese Water Dog to act aloof around strangers. They reserve their love only for their family members. It would take some time before they warmed up with other people, so during this period, they should try to earn this dog’s trust.

Never exhibit any suspicious movements, so the Portie won’t react badly. Properly introduce your furry friend to your guests. This way, your dog won’t find them threatening and would instead treat them nicely, eventually. 

Portuguese Water Dogs Are Great for Families That…

  • Need a smart dog.
  • Like affectionate dogs.
  • Have an active lifestyle.
  • Have the time for dog grooming.
  • Are looking for a family companion.

Don’t Get a Portuguese Water Dog If…

  • Your family isn’t ready.
  • You can’t train them daily.
  • You’re financially unprepared.
  • You can’t give them regular exercise.