Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd Mix 101: The Essential Guide 

Height           17 to 26 inches
Weight35 to 90 pounds
Life Expectancy7 – 13 years
Breed GroupHybrid/Designer Dog
Affection Level⭐⭐⭐
Activity Level⭐⭐⭐
Barking/Howling Level⭐⭐
Pet Friendly⭐⭐
Easy to Groom⭐⭐
Easy to Train⭐⭐⭐


The Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd mix (PWD-GSD mix) is a designer dog with a history that is tough to trace as a special pooch. Crossbreeding is undeniably becoming a common practice in the last 20 to 30 years which means there are several other mixes out there.

There is one best way to get a good read on this exciting designer dog, and that is to get to know both of its parents. With the name of this dog alone, it’s a no-brainer to identify what breeds were involved.

The first parent is a fisherman’s aid, an excellent swimmer and retriever called the Portuguese Water Dog. He was a common sight in ships, especially around Portugal’s coast. The PWD, as others would call him, almost vanished around the 20th century when modernization in fishing started. 

Through the effort of Vasco Bensaude, the breed’s rapid decline changed its course, and this eventually led several Porties to reach England a few decades later.

Meanwhile, the other parent is a relatively new breed that came into existence around 1899– the German Shepherd. He’s the outcome of Max von Stephanitz’s efforts to develop a herding dog with excellent skills. Though there were loads of herding dogs already used in the fields, the distinction in appearance was lacking.

Hence the arrival of what is, by far, one of the most favorite dog breeds in America. 


As a new hybrid dog, the Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd mix will always have varying looks, sizes, colors, and even build. The exact appearance is still yet to be established, and that would require a lot of time for selective breeding and other essential processes.

Indeed, the outcome of a puppy of this kind will either make him look a lot more like the German Shepherd, the Portuguese Water Dog, or somewhere in between. 

For the coat colors, all the natural shades available from both breeds like black, blue, gray, liver, sable, brown, black, and white are the possible outcomes, and there’s also a small chance of white markings appearing in his dense, straight, curly, or wavy coat.

In terms of measurements, the PWD-GSD mix can be medium to large, with a height that can be anywhere between 17 to 26 inches and a weight of about 35 to 90 pounds. 


The Portie and the GSD are known to have excellent temperaments making them good choices as family additions. As long as both the parents have good behavior, the chances are that the litter born will also end up becoming even-tempered. 

Since we are talking about two breeds being crossed with each other, the personality of the puppy is going to be an interesting read. Let’s find out more about the PWD-GSD’s personality traits.


The general behavior of a dog is not solely based on his nature or genetics. The way he’s raised will also have a significant impact on how he acts around other people or pets. A stable Portie-GSD mix must be able to show his loving side to his family with no signs of unpredictability.

Affection shows depending on how you treat your dog. Creating a positive, warm, and meaningful environment for your dog enables him to show that he’s capable of returning the same treatment to you in the love language he understands. 

It’s no rocket science when it comes to deciphering how your dog feels toward you. His body language will give you the assurance that your assumption that he loves you is accurate.

A PWD-GSD mix definitely has affection for you if he does some of all of the following:

  • Wagging his tail around your presence
  • Exhibiting big, soulful eyes
  • Following you everywhere
  • Licking or leaning on you
  • Engages with you during playtime


All dogs are capable of becoming friendly, but amiability is mostly rooted in how socialized they are. A PWD-GSD mix that’s been taught to positively respond to people, dogs, or other pets that don’t exhibit any suspicious or threatening moves will be more than happy to bond or receive pets and affection from them. 

One of the reasons why some dogs are so guarded and closed to the idea of mingling around new faces or being surrounded by new scents is due to a lack of thorough exposure during puppyhood. 

When nothing is done with their high guarding instincts, it’s less likely for them to be social but rather aggressive, overprotective, and highly territorial, even if they are dealing with kids. 

Also, even if a PWD-GSD mix shows a genial nature, getting him to be surrounded by the wrong people can be problematic. The friendliest of dogs can end up reacting negatively if he’s mishandled or mistreated by rough-playing kids or hostile dogs. 

Activity Level

It’s not surprising to know that the offspring of the Portie dog and the German Shepherd are also highly energetic. After all, both parents are working dogs, although the other does his task in the field and the other in the sea.

The PWD-GSD mix will usually ask for playtime and activities that can physically and mentally stimulate him. There are  tons of different games you can do with this free-spirited dog, and that includes the common game of fetch or hide and seek.

If the puppy turns out to have a larger reservoir of energy in him, perhaps a tug-of-war will be his perfect outlet to let out his pent-up energy. The best toy you can invest in for this game is the ULEFIX suction cup dog toy. All you have to do is let the other end stick on the ground and let the pooch pull it off with all his might by biting on the other end with the ball.


Taking good care of your Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd mix basically involves providing him with his basic needs. However, what the other breed of dog requires might not be an appropriate formula for maintaining the PWD-GSD mix.

Before you get any dog, especially this one, which is currently quite uncommon, you have to be knowledgeable first regarding what constitutes the overall care essential to this pooch.


What you should know is that the German Shepherd sheds continuously, which gets intense during the spring and fall. Meanwhile, the Portie parent sheds little, making him a hypoallergenic breed!

The frequency of running the brush down the PWD-GSD mix’s body depends on what coat quality he has. Hypersensitive individuals must take proper precautions and not proceed to bring a puppy of this kind at home. 

One thing to expect about this puppy when it comes to his grooming needs is that you’ll either have to brush him weekly or more often, depending on what works for the both of you.

Only use dog grooming tools like a quality slicker brush from Solid to get rid of the future hairy mess on the couch and other pieces of furniture. To aid him in having a wonderful coat, resort to using the Tropiclean Papaya and Coconut Shampoo– a pH balanced and dye and paraben-free solution your dog will love.

Food and Diet

The food requirements of a mixed dog of this kind vary according to his age, size, health, and dietary needs. No one else is more reliable in providing how much your dog needs to eat per day than a licensed veterinarian. 

Each day though, the PWD-GSD mix can be fed twice a day as an adult or 3 to 4 times daily as a puppy. The reason behind the number of portions for puppies is that they are in their most crucial stage of growth and would, therefore, need all essential nutrients to aid them in their development.

To add, the dog is prone to dysplasia, but this can be prevented if his diet includes glucosamine-chondroitin supplements and fish oil. Dog foods can range from BARF to commercial ones. For ready-made food, we suggest you consider the following:

  • Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet: Blue Buffalo features duck meat as its primary source of protein along with potatoes, pumpkin, and peas to aid healthy stomach digestion. The lack of chicken, beef and food fillers makes this a great option for dogs who have sensitivities.
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Dish Premium Dry Dog Food: Your dog will surely not get his paws off this as Rachael Ray Nutrish Dish scores high in flavor and quality of ingredients. The bag contains real chicken, fruit, and vegetable chunks coated with vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s good health. Let your dog feel the goodness and texture in a bowl by going for this must-have dry dog food formula that’s more superb than any other.


It’s enough to  hint that this mix’s high energy levels should be complemented with appropriate activities that can help lower his zest. Remember, a dog that is bored most of the time will end up pouring his energy into undesirable antics and misbehavior.

Let him out for long walks, hikes, or even take him swimming on the beach. Most dogs love the water, and this can be the case considering his Portie ancestry. Ideally, around 60 minutes of playtime is enough each day.

Don’t let him get active in one sitting. Divide the desired time by letting him play in the yard for 30 minutes in the morning and another in the late afternoon. An apartment-style of living is suitable for those of you wondering as long as his basic daily needs are provided.


To make use of his vigor, agility training and other forms of dog sports are good ideas. The German Shepherd line makes this dog easier to train, after all– far better than any other breed out there. It’s the same case with the Portie, although he may tend to show off his independence, making it quite a challenge to train him.

The puppy has to be subjected to drills and training as early as possible. It helps create a smooth dynamic and system inside your home, which means lessening the probability of a conflict or unhealthy relationship between you and your dog. 

Start with the most basic and then gradually increase the complexity of the training. Basic commands, crate training, socialization, and obedience are just some of the important learnings to instill in your puppy.

Positive reinforcements are encouraged, and harsh punishments must be avoided. Dogs learn better without getting physically or mentally harmed. Be generous with your praise, pets, and treats but be sure he thoroughly deserves it. Every progress must be well-compensated.

Health Problems

Any dog, no matter the breed, has a risk of developing certain health problems. Some of them can be caused by poor care, while others are simply hereditary. Your PWD-GSD mix puppy has the potential to develop illnesses found in either of his parents. 

The good news is that you can help him stay healthy and prevent him from suffering from bad health conditions. It’s also a plus that he’s not a purebred dog. His wider genetic pool makes him more robust and capable of fighting off diseases. 

As an owner, you can expect a few issues which can be treated once properly diagnosed. Here are some of them:

  • Von Willebrands disease
  • Eye issues
  • Joint dysplasia
  • Panosteitis
  • Progressive retinal atrophy

Pros and Cons of Having a Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd Mix

It certainly isn’t easy to decide whether the Portie-GSD mix is the right dog for you. So, we have come up with a list of pros and cons which you can check about him and find out if you and this dog can live together alright.


  • Has more vigor in fighting off illnesses
  • Easy to train
  • Not too high-maintenance
  • Fit for apartment-style of living
  • Sociable and friendly
  • Fit as a guard dog
  • Loyal, affectionate, and loving


  • Can be difficult and stubborn
  • Has no standard appearance
  • Not a purebred dog
  • Requires an active lifestyle
  • It needs a strict owner
  • Rare to find

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd Mix?

Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize the Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd mix as a breed. There are other clubs and organizations that do acknowledge hybrid and designer dogs, but this one is still new and uncommon, so not a lot of records about him are out there yet.

For some, this fact is not bothersome at all. A dog being purebred or not shouldn’t matter for the most part. This pooch is no different than any other dog as he’s capable of showing love, loyalty, and genuine companionship. 


A mixed-breed dog, in general, costs from a few hundred dollars to around $1800-$3000 or more. It depends on a few factors like the demand, age, sex, and season.

If you are looking to save, we recommend that you visit adoption homes instead. Thousands of dogs, purebred or not, end up there and are in need of a new, loving home. With their diversity, the chances are that you’ll find your PWD-GSD mix, more so if you go to breed-specific rescue homes.

The center will only usually charge $75-$150 for a dog.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Portuguese Water Dog German Shepherd Mix

Though there are several places you can visit to get your hands on a PWD-GSD mix puppy, only a few are reputable. We strongly encourage you not to make a deal with a backyard breeder, as you’ll potentially end up with a sick, unsocialized dog.  

To save you the hassle, we have gathered a few sites you can check and research if their breeding practices complement your high standards for a dog.