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Male vs Female Portuguese Water Dogs: The Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

Male vs Female Portuguese Water Dogs: The Differences (With Pictures)

Portuguese water dogs (PWDs) have one thing in common – they were once fisher dogs. However, while females tend to be affectionate on their own terms, males are ever affectionate as long as they can trust you.

Also, females are surprisingly multitasked while males aren’t. Females can see a squirrel across the road while playing with you, but males can only concentrate on the play.

So which gender is best for you?

Your personality is the primary determinant when choosing the correct gender of the PWD. So your best choice will be based on the differences of the female and male PWD and what you desire to have. PWDs are generally medium-sized dogs, but they are also well-muscled, thanks to their fisher dog ancestors. They reach full maturity at 1-2 years, but they are generally fully grown at 6-8 months.

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Visual Differences

male vs female portuguese water dog side by side
Image Credit: Left: (Male Portuguese Water Dogs) Robinson, Shutterstock; Right( Female Portuguese Water Dogs) Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Male Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Average height (adult): 20-23 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 40-60 pounds
Female Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Average height (adult): 17-20 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 35-60 pounds

Portuguese Water Dog 101

PWD ancestors were once fisher dogs who joined the fishing crew to herd fish together to the fishing nets and pick up items when they fell. This close relationship with humans has prized PWDs as one of the most obedient, playful and dogs that love to please.

PWDs or parties, as they are sometimes referred to, are excellent for an active family because they are not only friendly but also very active. They can be the best for families with swimming pools or people living close to a beach because they love water and activity.

Parties are also very active, and lack of daily exercise would make your portie a depressed and destructive dog. Swimming is a choice, but parties are an excellent company for jogging or walking.

PWDs, just like any other animals, shed their fur, but they only shed a little. The PWDs fur is like human hair, and you will notice that it becomes matted if you do not brush it regularly.

PWDs only have a single coat of fur, which is why they shed less fur than double-coated dog breeds.

Are PWDs hypoallergenic? PWDs are considered to be hypoallergenic because they do not shed a lot of fur. However, the truth is that no animal with fur can be fully hypoallergenic. The only way to know if you are allergic to a certain breed of dog is by being close to them and living with them. Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03

Male Portuguese Water Dog Overview

Portuguese Water Dog in beautiful green park
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock


As mentioned before, the boys are much more open to people and life in general. Once you have their attention, you will have it for a longer time.

They can only concentrate on one activity at a time. For instance, if you are playing with them or training them, they might miss a cat playing on the other side of the fence.

Also, if you succeed in gaining their loyalty, you will forever have it. Male PWDs also get the urge to dominate when they are at their budding maturity age, generally five to fifteen months.


Training any gender of the PWD is easy, especially if they are neutered. Neutering your male PWD will diminish their need to mark by urinating in the most inappropriate places. Training a neutered male portie is very easy because it won’t be easy to distract them, especially when training them with other dogs.

Health & Care

Are you thinking of neutering your male PWD? Hold it right there! How old is your male portie? If he has not reached his sexual maturity age, then you cannot neuter him just yet. You need to wait until they have reached their sexual maturity age of 18-24 months to neuter them.

Porties are people-loving dogs who happen to be very active too. Life in the kennel may not be ideal for the male PWD dog. A fenced yard is the best place for them to play safely. However, parties can also live in an apartment as long as you give them their much-needed exercise.

portuguese water dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock


In 1981, the PWD was recorded as the rarest dog in the world by the World Guinness Book of Records. At that time, there were only 85 PWDs worldwide, with the biggest number of PWds being in the US. Over the years, extra caution has been taken to avoid making the PWD extinct, and currently, there are many of them to choose from.

  • Highly affectionate and loyal
  • Can train efficiently when neutered
  • They can be aggressive sometimes
  • They tend to ‘mark’ frequently before they are neutered


Female Portuguese Water Dog Overview

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


Female PWDs, on the other hand, tend to be very affectionate but only on their terms. They are self-serving and a little bit calculating. They are also very independent and excellent multi-taskers.

Unlike their male counterparts, the females are very alert to their surroundings. The female PWD will challenge your authority but subtly compared to how the male PWDs challenge you. These dogs can ‘train’ your whole household to answer to her every whim without your knowledge.

They are also very unpredictable, which is a character that makes them even more charming. They use the charm to have your heart and home under her paws. So you need to decide how far she can go with her tricks while she is still young.


Just like the male PWD, training a female is not as difficult. However, they can be easily distracted, especially if you are training them in the absence of other dogs.

You may need to train them in the company of other dogs for fruitful training. This way, the female PWD will be focused on what the rest of the dogs are doing, and she will do the same.

Health & Care

Just like the male PWD female PWDs are not kennel dogs, they need to be let out and enjoy their vibrant personality. As mentioned before, PWDs were once fisher dogs which means they were all very active dogs helping the fishermen in the fishing grounds. Therefore, keeping a female Portuguese water dog completely in their kennel is subjecting her to torture.

They also need regular brushing of their fur to prevent it from matting up.

portuguese water dog near lake
Image By: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock


The Portuguese water dog is a purebred dog descending from an ancestral lineage of water-loving dogs. For this reason, some character traits from your female PWD are all about her breeding genetics.

Some character traits can only be ditched with frequent training. All you need when it comes to breeding is a good breeder who will know which is the best PWD pup breed for you.

  • They are super independent
  • They are also super charming
  • Affectionate at their own terms
  • They need regular fur brushing
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Why Do They Shave Portuguese Water Dogs?

PWDs have a single coat that does not shed much. This is an excellent benefit for people who are allergic to animal fur. However, the downside of this is that PWDs need regular shaving and grooming. Otherwise, the PWD’s fur will keep on growing and growing.

Another downside to the fur is that it grows so much that it might end up impeding the vision of your PWD. So to avoid this, the PWD fur needs to be shaved every two months and brushed regularly to prevent matting.

For many years, the portie’s coat has always been styled differently. Below are some of the most common styles of a PWD coat:

  • The lion cut
  • The retriever cut
brown and white portuguese water dog puppy
Image By: Melchor Gama, Pexels

Which Breed is Right for You?

Your choice will depend on how you want to relate to your dog once you get home with them.

You, however, need to know that while dogs are a stable gender, bitches are not. They will be affectionate at their choice of time. For instance, if they want some petting, they will come directly to you and leave when they’ve had enough.

Also, while dogs are emotionally stable, bitches tend to have different moods. For example, they may be happy at one time, but they will act mad and aggressive when they dislike something.

Female PWDs can be so manipulative. If they do not want something, they will work out their charm to have you under their paws. They will whine when they do not want something, and as unaware as you can be, you will eventually obey her whines.

With that said, you are the only one who knows what you want from a pet dog. Consider all you have learned above and choose your breed carefully.

Related Read:

Featured Image Credit: Up: Robinson, Shutterstock; Down: slipschutz, Pixabay

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