Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Written by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2021

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The Portuguese Water Dog is believed to have come from Portuguese where the dogs were known as avid water dogs.  They helped fisherman by navigating the fish into their nets, help with gear in the water and even deliver messages.

Portuguese Water Dog

A descendant of the poodle, that was also bred to be a water retrieving pup, the Portuguese Water Dog (also known as the Cao de Agua), traveled with fisherman from the Portugal coast to even Newfoundland.

This breed disappeared in the 20th century when fishing became more modernized than in the earlier days.  But, a serious Portuguese water dog lover named Vasco Bensuade wanted to re-establish the breed. And that’s exactly what he did!

A few decades later, the Porties were found in England and later the United States.

Today, the Portuguese Water Dog has become a popular breed due to his loving personality and enthusiasm.

The Portie became even more renowned when Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, served as the First Family Dog during the Obama Administration.

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Portuguese Water Dog Breed Characteristics

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dogs are medium-sized dogs with males standing at 20 to 24 inches and weigh anywhere from 42 to 60 pounds.

Female Porties are approximately 18 to 22 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 35 to 55 pounds.

The Portuguese Water Dog has two different types of coats that are either wavy or curly. Both coats are a single coat and they don’t have an undercoat.

Due to this single coat, the Portuguese Water Dog doesn’t shed as much as other breeds and is thought to hypoallergenic.  There will be shedding, but just not as much as other dogs.

Their coat can be white, different shades of brown, black or even brown or balk with white.

They tend to be recognized with two different styles:

The Lion clip: The mid-body and muzzle are short and there is a tuft at the tip of the tail, like a lion!

The Retriever clip:  A fully clipped coat that covers the contour of the pups’ body and is usually about an inch in its length.

Brush your pup at least two to three times each week to keep the fur clean and to brush away the dead hair.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

Portuguese Water Dog Personality

The Portuguese Water Dog has a lot of great qualities and a big personality!

This is a fun-loving, clown-like dog who has boundless energy.  Always keep your eyes on this one because he can be a step ahead of you and you won’t even know it!

There are many different temperaments, like other breeds, from laid back to very stubborn and strong-willed.  Most Porties, however, are in the middle and are just happy, fun dogs.

Of course, early socialization and training will help you have a well-rounded Portuguese Water Dog.

This is a dog that loves the water so keep your eye on your Portie if you go to the beach.  He makes bathing easy because of his love for the water.

A Portuguese is a great fit for families and loves children.  If you have toddlers, just keep an eye on the pup as he can be a bit rambunctious at times.

This high energy dog, in the best of ways, needs plenty of daily exercises.  This isn’t an outdoor only dog as he loves to be with his family and not alone outside.

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Common Health Issues in Portuguese Water Dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs are healthy dogs, but similar to other breeds, they are prone to some common health issues.

Of course, not all Portuguese Water Dogs will develop any of these health conditions.  It’s important to know what they can develop, particularly if you are buying a Portie from a breeder.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition that occurs when the bone of the thigh doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint.  Some dogs will be affected on both rear legs which can cause difficulty in walking. Other dogs won’t show any symptoms at all.  However, as your pup ages, arthritis can occur more readily.

While hip dysplasia is hereditary, it can become more severe if a dog is very active and jumps often or is overweight.   Surgery is the best treatment for recovery in serious cases.

Learn More: Why I Wish I Bought Pet Insurance When I First Got My Dog

Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy is another genetic disease that can cause sudden death in puppies that are between 5 weeks and 7 months old.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure at this time and there is no way to even know if a young puppy will develop this condition.

The only way breeders can prevent the disease from reoccurring is to avoid breeding any dogs that are a carrier of the juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy gene.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a degenerative eye condition that can eventually lead to blindness due to the loss of the photoreceptors at the back of a dog’s eyes.  The condition is detectable before a dog will show any signs of vision loss.

A dog can still live a full, happy life; however, a responsible breeder will have their dogs’ take an annual eye exam and will not breed the dog if they develop PRA.

Storage Disease (GM1)

Storage disease is a rare, recessive hereditary disorder that occurs when there is a lack of an enzyme that fights the toxic substances that normally occur in nerve cells.  If both parents of a puppy have this condition, it can be fatal.

A DNA test has recently been developed that can determine if a dog is a carrier and any responsible breeder would not breed a pup that has this disease.

With any or all of these conditions, you should always get health clearance from a breeder when you are buying a puppy to make sure they do not have any serious health conditions.

In fact, most health conditions in dogs don’t appear until a dog is more than 2 or 3 years old.  Most breeders will not breed their pups until they are at this age to avoid health issues.

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Should You Purchase Pet Insurance For Your Portuguese Water Dog?

If you buy or adopt a Portuguese Water Dog, there are some breed-specific health conditions that might occur with your pup that are serious and expensive to treat.

Or even if you happen to have the healthiest Portie pup, there are conditions that can occur later in life.

Pet insurance will give you the financial and emotional peace of mind that if your pup develops any disease that you can get your dog the best care and afford it!

It is not unusual for a vet bill to cost anywhere from $7,000 to $20,000 to treat and a solid pet insurance provider will pay anywhere from 80% to 90% of the cost.

And that it can be a life-saver if something were to occur to your Portie.

The best, most well –rounded pet insurance plans are comprehensive which means that your dog will be covered for virtually every accident or illness that might occur.

Be wary of the accident only policies that cover only accidents and not any illness.

Another important tip is to enroll your puppy when he is young before any pre-existing conditions might occur.  This is true of even allergies.  Once any or all conditions have occurred, pet insurance will not cover it.

Pet insurance companies, like Healthy Paws, Figo and Petplan all have very well-rounded comprehensive plans.  They also cover hereditary and breed-specific conditions. That is very important in breeds like Portuguese Water Dogs.

Portuguese Water Dogs will bring you and your family so much joy and become an integral addition to your home.  And, pet insurance will help you to make sure this water-loving pup gets the proper care he needs!

If you are looking for a new pet insurance policy for your Portuguese Water Dog, our top 10 pet insurance companies can give you some tips!


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