Portuguese Water Dog vs Labradoodle: Which Pet Should You Be Getting?

We all know how much of a dilemma it was when we knew that former President Barack Obama had to choose between a Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) and a Labradoodle as the first family dog during the start of his term. Eventually, he picked the Portie dog over the other, but why was it a hard decision to make?

The PWD and the Labradoodle are two magnificent dog types that could make a huge difference in any dog lover’s life. The uniqueness of their temperaments doesn’t mean that one of them is better than the other. Remember that the PWD shares the same ancestry as the Poodle and the Labradoodle has a Poodle parentage. Somehow, they are both related to each other.

If you’re looking for an in-depth article that would help you see the difference between these two breeds, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to help you choose the right pet, so keep reading!

Breed Origins

Portuguese Water Dog

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For a long time in history, the Portie served a great purpose in the lives of the fishermen. He was originally from Portugal where he proved that his endurance excels far better than most dog breeds we know of today. Before, you would usually see this dog in boats ready to dive into the water to collect the pieces of fishing gear or help in making great seafood harvests by directing the fish to the nets laid out by the fishermen.

In some instances, they would also swim across another boat to deliver messages. It has been a tough timeline for the Porties especially during the 1970s. Most dogs of this breed lost their jobs and were replaced by modern equipment for fishing. When they neared extinction, Dr. Bensaude took interest in this dog and it paved the way to its survival. 

The number of this breed remains low until now, but Portie breeders are working hard to defy all odds!


Photo from: olithedoodle (IG)

To produce a hypoallergenic dog, Wally Conron developed a phenomenal Labradoodle in the year 1989. Not only was this dog intentionally crossbred through a Labrador and a Standard Poodle to be allergy-friendly, but Conron also wanted this to be an effective guide dog.

Sultan was the first Labradoodle who had the complete package to be a guide dog and the remarkable duty he has done was with a woman in Hawaii. It was by that point in time when breeders saw the work as something worth recognizing. Gradually, like the Labrador Retriever parent, the Labradoodle is rising to fame. This is one of the most sought out Doodle dogs of all time!

Currently, to create a recognizable breed, breeders are opting for a multigenerational breeding process.

Note: Multigenerational breeding means that the Labradoodle’s parents and Grandparents are Labradoodles instead of a purebred Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle.

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

Portuguese Water Dog

Photo from: leotheportie (IG)

The Portie dog has an off-square build and is typically longer than tall. Feeling his body behind his curly or wavy coat, you’d be able to guess rightly that he is substantially built to last a vigorous activity. He is neither coarse nor refined, but he’s generally robust and muscular. 

The reason why the Portie is a good swimmer is due to his webbed feet. He’s neither large nor small but is rather nicely sized to deal with the seas or rivers. The eyes may range from black to brown and the nose color will vary on the coat color. 

The shades of the fur may usually be in: 

  • Black
  • Brown 
  • Black & white
  • Brown & white


Photo from: teffidoodle (IG)

A Labradoodle is considered a large canine. He has acquired the soulful puppy eyes from the Labrador breed and they are set behind his curly coat. The ears droop gracefully and are set back on the head. Considering that this dog is not purebred, most of his appearances are not consistent. Some of this dog type will look more like a Poodle while others will exhibit a hint of the Labrador genes. 

Moreover, the coat color and type will vary a lot as well. For the coat texture, there are three known kinds:

  • Wool coat
  • Hair coat
  • Fleece coat

Meanwhile, the coat color may appear in a plethora of shades:

  • Gold
  • Caramel
  • Chalky white
  • Apricot
  • Black 
  • Red 
  • Silver
  • Cream
  • Cafe
  • Chocolate
  • Blue
  • Parchment 


Portuguese Water Dog

Photo from: _belo_pwd (IG)

The PWD is a dog that loves to develop meaningful relationships with his family members. He is sociable and playful so expect him to move a lot in the house seeking to be physically stimulated. If you are at work most times of the day, the maximum time you could leave him alone is six hours. Destructive behaviors would show if he hasn’t been shown attention or he has been filled with pent-up energy.

In general, Porties like to be accompanied by children. He loves the outbursts of energy they could easily match against his, but due to him being a canine, the play must be keenly monitored to avoid mishaps.


A Labradoodle dog is considered good for first-time dog owners. Mostly, this type doesn’t have behavioral problems but is rather sociable and friendly with kids, adults, and even strangers. His gentle nature concludes that he doesn’t have the quality of being a guard dog, but he sure will alert you if someone is approaching the front door.

This doodle dog is always ready to play, but he knows when to stay calm. Mentioning that the quality of this dog is inconsistent, expect some Labradoodles to be a mixture of reserved, boisterous, and slow to mature types. 

Trainability & Intelligence Level

Portuguese Water Dog

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Porties are highly intelligent dogs. They love to learn new things every day so this is a great thing when he’s a puppy. This means that you wouldn’t have an overwhelming time to teach him basic house rules, crate, and obedience training because he can pick all these up easily and quickly. However, you should create training sessions that are challenging or you’ll end up facing a bored canine who’s itching to leave the training area. 

Owning a dog of this kind comes with a commitment to always physically and mentally stimulate him. This canine is no couch potato nor is he amused by repetitive skill-learning tasks. Due to his work history, the thirst to always do something remains in his bloodline.


Photo from: theo_dorabledoodle (IG)

Labradoodles score high in intelligence too! This is no surprise at all since this dog type is an offspring of two remarkably bright dogs as well. Their eagerness to please their owners stands out as a quality that also makes training less challenging. In training a Labradoodle, it is necessary to maintain a schedule. Consistency, firmness, and positive reinforcements are imperative just like other dog breeds. 

Additionally, dogs don’t have long attention spans so keep the drills short. Don’t also forget that the owner-to-dog relationship factors in the success of training!

Exercise Needs

Portuguese Water Dog

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Depending on the energy level of the PWD, exercise has to be done for 30 minutes or longer. You can start the day by letting your dog enjoy a quick morning walk and let him indulge in a more rigorous exercise in the afternoon. This will help him in establishing good sleeping patterns while preventing yourself from dealing with an active dog at night if he’s exhausted at the end of the day.

Since he’s a waterdog, you can help him release energy by letting him swim in your pool or a nearby river. Simply regulate his time spent on playing or he won’t notice that the sun sets already!


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The endless stream of energy a Labradoodle has would require its owner to conduct games that would help him burn off steam. A game of fetch, hide and seek, or toy search will surely keep your Doodle interested and stimulated. You can also invent your own game for your pooch depending on the dog’s preference.

Generally, a 30 to 60-minute exercise would be enough. You can divide this into shorter sessions to avoid exhaustion especially if there are factors such as extreme summer heat.

Maintenance Level

The Portie and the Labradoodle vary in maintenance level. The former needs frequent grooming due to his coat type, so daily brushing, and occasional baths would be needed to avoid matting and tangling. Meanwhile, the Labradoodle is of a moderate maintenance level, generally. Since his coat type is varied, grooming needs will be different as well. Others might need a recurrent grooming session more than the other.

In terms of other needs, both dogs do well in high-quality food. The Labradoodle is a designer dog so he could be a high maintenance dog depending on the preferences and lifestyle of the owner. 

Cost per Puppy

Depending on where you got your puppy from, whether it be a Portie or a Labradoodle, the prices can increase or decrease dramatically. You can get a Portuguese Water Dog for $750 to $2000 or $3000 if he has a superior lineage. The Labradoodle comes off as expensive too as it can cost $1500 to $2000. In some cases, he can even be worth $4000 if he has superb quality.

Health Issues

Portuguese Water Dog

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Porties can live up to 13 years based on a good lifestyle. However, his vulnerability to diseases can affect it. The ones he would possibly have are:

  • Juvenile cardiomyopathy
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Alopecia
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • GM1 Storage Disease
  • Addison’s disease


Photo from: bailey.button_the.labradoodle (IG)

Labradoodles have a life expectancy of 14 years. Despite the positive health implication, this dog, being a mix of two breeds, makes him an inheritor of both purebred dog’s common health problems. Some of them are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Addison’s disease
  • Epilepsy

Advice: Bring your dog regularly to vet clinics for check-ups to either avoid or remedy pre-existing conditions. Tailoring an appropriate nutritional diet and medications with your veterinarian will also improve the health status of your pooch.

Breed Popularity

The Portie canine remains to be a rare class of dog yet this doesn’t hinder him from bagging 50th place in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) breed popularity ranking. He is gradually becoming a top choice for many American families especially that he’s a hypoallergenic dog breed. 

As for the Labradoodle, there is no exact figure that would help us determine his stand in the popularity game. But, it seems that out of all the Doodle dogs, this one is a top choice even for personalities like Jennifer Aniston, Tiger Woods, and Graham Norton!

Fun Facts

Portuguese Water Dog

  1. His original name is “Cao de Agua” which translates to “dog of water”.
  2. Two famous Portie dogs belong to Obama- Bo and Sunny.
  3. Lots of Porties became soldier dogs during the Spanish armada.
  4. He has a strong and independent nature.
  5. Porties are all single-coated, perfect for people with allergies!


Photo from: maple.labradoodle (IG)
  1. Labradoodles are also great swimmers!
  2. He can have amazing tracking skills.
  3. He’s an excellent therapy dog.
  4. Labradoodles are loved by many Hollywood celebrities.
  5. Many consider a Labradoodle as a perfect family dog!

Which Pet Should You Be Getting?

Porties and Labradoodles are two splendid dogs with slight differences in behavior, needs, and even appearance. If you prefer a more challenging dog, Porties will surely match your preference, especially in training. Labradoodles are more suitable for families who reflect the same vibes as him such as being easy-going and happy -go lucky!