Portuguese Water Dog Male vs Female: Their Differences + Pros & Cons

Portuguese Water Dogs are incredibly smart dogs regardless of gender. Any experienced dog owner can bring home a male or female Portie as long as they consider a few minor differences between them.

It’s important to find out which between them suits you better, especially if your space is limited. Also, there’ll be significant behavioral distinctions every Portie lover should take note of. 

Let’s learn all of that and more through this article.

Differences in Physical Appearance


A male Portuguese Water Dog is larger than his female counterparts. That means he’s taller and heavier. The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests that the proportions should be 20 to 23 inches for the height and 42 to 60 pounds for the weight.

When it comes to appearance, a male Portie won’t usually look that distinct from a female. After all, his body is covered by dense, coiled fur. 


Meanwhile, female Porties are slightly smaller. Yet, they still fall under the category of medium-sized dogs. They can reach 17 to 21 inches and aim for 35 to 50 pounds of weight.

In visuals, females have less broad shoulders and have more feminine features. Apart from that and their size, there is nothing much to identify them from males. 

Read more: Portuguese Water Dog Weight: His Ideal Mass and How to Maintain It 

Differences in Temperament


Male Porties, especially the puppy ones, are typically happy-go-lucky. Dog lovers prefer them for their extroverted, carefree attitudes. Usually, their parents would also describe them as:

  • Playful.
  • Rambunctious.
  • Extremely clingy.

This is due to their lateness in maturity. Male Porties cling to their puppy-like behavior for years which draws the interest of many potential dog owners.

Also, male Porties are more open to developing relationships with other people and pets. They also tend to get attached too much to their owners.

Interestingly, they also aren’t capable of multi-tasking. If they’re doing something, they wouldn’t be able to notice a squirrel sneaking into the garden.

They’re loyal as well. However, once their maturity starts budding, challenges may come in the way. He’ll usually exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Acts of protest.
  • Urge to dominate.
  • Signs of stubbornness.

Firm training will resolve these and help hone him into becoming a well-mannered companion.


Female Porties are loving and affectionate too. But this only happens as long as it’s under their terms. They are intelligent and calculating, so be sure not to underestimate this lady dog. 

You can say that they are a bit of the opposite of male Porties. After all, while males can’t stand being left on their own, female Porties won’t find it a problem. Multi-tasking won’t also be a challenge at all.

When trained to guard their parents’ home, you can fully rely on their guarding instinct. This is more of a case too if your dog is nursing her puppies or is currently pregnant. 

To list, here are more of her distinct behavior:

  • Usually strict.
  • Tends to control kids.
  • Highly cautious of strangers.

There’s also unpredictability that’s embedded in her. Female Porties may experience varying hormone levels, which may explain their change of mood.

Differences in Health


One thing to know is that some illnesses or diseases do not discriminate between genders, especially in dogs. However, male Porties can develop health issues that can be related to their sex.

One of those is prostate cancer. Although most tumors found in the prostate are malignant, they can still pose a threat to your dog’s health as they can spread quickly. 

For lower chances of your Portie developing this, research shows that intact dogs are less prone to having prostate cancer. So, weigh the pros and cons before you get your pooch fixed.


Aside from the genetic health issues a female Portie can get, she may also possibly develop mammary tumors or an infected uterus that would need immediate professional attention, says Jessica May, a veterinarian at FirstVet.

While it’s true that spaying a female Portuguese Water Dog offers a lot of health benefits, it’s advised that dog owners do so at the right time. This helps achieve the goal of avoiding unnecessary health concerns, so be sure to consult your vet to discuss this type of surgery.

Differences in Trainability


It takes some time for a male Portie to fully grasp the task you teach him to do. Grab his attention by utilizing toys or giving out treats as positive reinforcements. Praises and other forms of rewards are welcome too. 

If you’re dealing with a full-grown Portie, the chances are that you’ll witness him trying to get the authority over you. As much as you can, stay firm with your instruction and let him understand that you’re the pack leader.


What dog owners find as an advantage in having a female dog is their ease in trainability. As mentioned, they mature faster than males and are typically independent at an early age. 

They also tend to act more serious in fulfilling their roles in the house. As long as your training drills make sense, a people-pleaser such as a Portie will obediently follow your commands.

You might be interested to read: Are Portuguese Water Dogs Easy to Train? 4 Reasons and 7 Training Tips

Who’s Better with Kids?

Both male and female Porties can be trusted around kids. However, females seem to do better with children. They are caring, gentle, and protective as they see them like their puppies. Male Porties are great with kids when it comes to playtime.

No matter how well-mannered they are, I advise you never to draw your attention to something else. Monitoring their interaction is essential to prevent injuries or accidents caused by boisterous plays.

Whos’ Better with Pets?

Portuguese Water Dogs, both male and female, are great with other pets. This is only possible if they are socialized early with other faces and scents. With that, it’s no problem introducing your new cat or even your new puppy to them.

Take note, though, that same-sex aggression may occur, especially with male dogs. I suggest that if you have a male dog, you should opt for a female as a second four-legged companion.

To add, Porties have a low prey drive. That means they can get along very well with animals such as:

  • Birds.
  • Rabbits.
  • Squirrels.
  • Hamsters.

You may also want to read: Are Portuguese Water Dogs Aggressive? 6 Reasons and 5 Tips

Who’s Better as a Guard Dog?

Due to their size, Portuguese Water Dogs are not fit to become guard dogs. Their bodies wouldn’t be able to take down an average man due to their lack of mass, muscles, and necessary strength. Instead, this breed can be better off as an alert dog. 

They are naturally curious and wary of strangers. They will bark to catch their owner’s attention and won’t stop doing it until someone in the family checks what’s going on.

Benefits of Having a Male Portuguese Water Dog

  • More playful. 
  • Bigger in size.
  • Highly affectionate.
  • A certified people-pleaser.

Benefits of Having a Female Portuguese Water Dog

  • Easier to train.
  • More protective.
  • More independent.
  • Considerably smaller.