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Is a Portuguese Water Dog Hypoallergenic? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQs

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

portrait of a white and black Portuguese Water Dog wearing a collar

Is a Portuguese Water Dog Hypoallergenic? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQs


Dr. Lorna Whittemore  Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

The Portuguese Water Dog, also known as the fisherman’s canine, is an affectionate breed that is athletic and adventurous. These dogs are light shedders and medium-sized, making them desirable canine companions. They are eager to please, intelligent, and easy to train, all of which make them sought-after dogs to own. Given they are light shedders, you may wonder if the Portuguese Water Dog is hypoallergenic. In short, yes, people consider the Portuguese Water Dog “hypoallergenic.” This is not, however, backed up by scientific evidence.

A truly hypoallergenic dog breed doesn’t exist, but having a dog considered as such is generally a more suitable option for the allergy sufferer. Let’s learn about this dog breed and discover more about their “hypoallergenic” coats.

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Hypoallergenic?

Low-shedding dogs, such as the Portuguese Water Dog, tend to be easier on the allergies due to less pet dander in your home.1 Pet dander released from a dog’s coat, which is a common allergy trigger, is often the culprit. Dog lovers with allergies are often faced with the dilemma of owning a dog or not, but if you’re an allergy sufferer and are dead-set on being a dog owner, the Portuguese Water Dog could be a good option.

Allergies to dogs are triggered by proteins in dander, urine and saliva. So far 7 proteins have been identified, Can f-1 to Can f-7.2

These dogs have either tight, curly hair or loose, wavy hair. The dense coat requires weekly grooming, but the occasional bath will suffice as far as keeping the Portie clean. Porties typically have one of two types of haircuts—the retriever clip, where the entire coat is clipped to 1 inch in length with the tail tip left at full length, or the lion clip, where the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle are clipped down to the skin.

portuguese water dog in the forest
Image Credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock

How Can I Keep Allergy Symptoms to a Minimum?

As mentioned, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, but breeds that shed less are often more tolerable for allergy sufferers. However, you can take extra measures to keep your allergy symptoms down even further. Let’s check them out:

Limit access within the home

You can create an “allergy-free” zone in your home. In other words, this area of the home will be off limits to your Portie, such as your bedroom or another part of the home you frequent. If you must have your Portie sleep with you at night, use impermeable covers for your pillows and mattress. You should also use an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your bedroom should you choose to allow access to your dog.

Use HEPA cleaners

We’ve mentioned air purifiers with a HEPA filter, but it’s worth mentioning a second time. These devices can really help keep allergy triggers to a minimum by removing 99.7% of pet dander and other pollutants from the air. If you’re a dog owner or are considering becoming one, we highly recommend investing in a couple of these machines, whether you have allergies or not.

Bathe your Portie weekly

Porties do not require a weekly bath, but it can help with your allergies. You can always take your Portie to a groomer if needed, but this can get pricey. If you bathe your Portie at home, ask your veterinarian what shampoo is best to use.

Consider immunotherapy

If you suffer from dog allergies it is strongly recommended you discuss your treatment options with an allergy specialist before getting a pet. Immunotherapy typically comes in the form of weekly allergy shots and can offer a good long term option. Antihistamine or steroidal nose sprays and pills are also commonly discussed. Consult with an allergist to determine the best course of treatment if you suffer from dog allergies.

Black Portuguese Water Dog
Image Credit: Zé Maria, Unsplash

How to Keep a Portuguese Water Dog Healthy and Safe

After reading this post, have you decided to add a Portie to your family? If so, here are some tips on keeping a Portie healthy, happy, and safe.

For starters, these dogs are happiest when they have a job to do. Porties are hardworking dogs that have been used to herd fish into nets, retrieve lines and tackle, and guide boats when needed (remember, they are known as the “fisherman’s canine”).

Porties are not for everyone; they are high-energy and demand your attention. They need regular grooming, vigorous exercise, and obedience training to excel. Ensure you have adequate space for your Portie run and play and the time to devote to your Portie for exercise.

Porties need an experienced, firm, and consistent leader due to their strong-willed nature and will not do well with a timid and inconsistent trainer. Early socialization and obedience training are highly recommended with this breed, but with proper training, these dogs will become fun, loving, and loyal family companions.

A Portie’s coat is water-repellant—when bathing a Portie, ensure you wet him down thoroughly and rinse all of the shampoo out to avoid dry skin.

Keep plenty of chew toys around, as these dogs love to carry things in their mouths and chew. Chewing behavior may lead to nipping, so keeping plenty of sturdy toys everywhere is essential to avoid undesirable behaviors. These dogs tend to be mouthy and need constant reminders for acceptable behavior.

Ensure you feed a complete and balanced diet with high-quality ingredients with no artificial flavoring or preservatives. Ensure you exercise your Portie for at least 1 hour daily in the form of long walks, playing fetch, hiking, swimming, or any other sport your Portie enjoys.

portuguese water dog_susan lipschutz_Pixabay
Image Credit: susan lipschutz, Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Owning a Portuguese Water Dog is a fun and rewarding experience. These affectionate and energetic dogs are high-energy and love to run and swim. They excel in agility courses, obedience training, rally, tracking, water work, herding, fly ball, and hunting, to name a few.

If you’re an allergy sufferer and want to own one of these dogs, practicing any or all of the measures mentioned above can keep allergy symptoms to a minimum. Consult with your allergist and meet the individual dog you are interested in to see if they trigger your allergies. No dog is truly hypoallergenic but Porties shed less than other breeds.

Featured Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

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