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Portuguese Water Dog - Appearance & Grooming

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Portuguese Water Dog


The Portuguese Water Dog is a muscular, medium size dog with a hardy build. The body is slightly longer than it is tall, with a straight, level topline. The chest is broad and the brisket reaches the elbows. The head of is large and broad and should have a pronounced occiput and stop. The ears are heart-shaped and hang down next to the head. The eyes are dark, alert and expressive. The tail is thick at the base then tapers toward the tip. The coat is thick and curly or wavy and because there is no undercoat, sheds very lightly. Portuguese Water Dogs may be black, white, brown, black with white or brown with white. As the name suggests, the breed is made for swimming, complete with webbed feet, which is more webbed between the toes than most other swimming breeds.

Size and Weight

Males can stand from 20 to 23 inches, with the ideal height being 22. Females typically stand 17 to 21 inches, with the ideal height being 19. Males weigh in from 42 to 60 pounds, while females weigh slightly less at a range of 35 to 50. Portuguese Water Dogs should be slightly off square in proportion, being slightly longer than tall when measured from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks, and from withers to ground.

Coat and Color

The Portuguese Water Dog wears a single coat – there is no undercoat, thus there is very little shedding – and are therefore considered a hypoallergenic dog and good for people with allergies. The coat can either be curly or wavy and comes in colors of black, white, brown, black with white or brown with white.

Grooming Needs

Though the coat of the Portuguese Water Dog sheds very lightly, regular grooming is still required to keep the coat tangle free. Brushing two to three times per week is the norm. Monthly clips or trims are required to keep the coat looking neat. The coat may be trimmed in a lion clip or a retriever clip. The lion clip involves keeping the muzzle, mid body and rear end short, but keeping a tuft at the end of the tail. The retriever clip is achieved by clipping the coat all over to one inch in length, but leaving the hair at the end of the tail to grow full length.

This breed enjoys swimming, and when he comes out of the water, it is important to rinse him with fresh water to remove chlorine, salt, dirt, debris and other things that may cause skin issues or coat problems. The ears should also dried after a swim in order to prevent painful ear infections.

Check the ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.

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