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Portuguese Water Dog vs Poodle: The Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Portuguese Water Dog vs Poodle: The Differences (With Pictures)

The Poodle and the Portuguese Water Dog are both excellent dog breeds with a lot to recommend to them. Both dogs were initially bred to work in the water; the poodle was meant to be a duck hunter, and the Portuguese water dog helped to gather fish into nets. These days, the poodle is mostly seen as a show dog, whereas the Portuguese water dog is used for water rescue, but they maintain many similarities.

They are about the same size and share similar coat lengths and types. Beyond their physical features, much of their personalities are alike as well. They are affectionate, energetic dogs that love their families and are eager to please them.

Still, there are key differences between the two breeds. If you are trying to decide which breed is the best fit for you, this article will help you to take a deeper look at each breed’s characteristics.

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Visual Differences

Portuguese Water Dog vs Poodle - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock | Right – Sharon Snider, Pexels

At a Glance

Portuguese Water Dog
  • Average height (adult): 20–23 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 42–60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11–13 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Frequent
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Adaptable and eager to please
  • Average height (adult): 15–25 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 60–70 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–18 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Frequent
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Wary but willing to adapt
  • Trainability: Intelligent and eager to please


Portuguese Water Dog Overview

portuguese water dog standing in the water
Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

The Portuguese water dog is known as an adventurous and athletic dog breed. It is a high-energy dog that requires regular mental stimulation to be satisfied. These dogs enjoy having tasks to complete and are more than happy to do as their owner asks.

When it comes to their families, Portuguese water dogs are incredibly doting. They love to give and receive affection, and they are great with young children. They are well-behaved around other pets as long as they have been properly socialized and are well-supervised.

They are vigilant dogs, always keeping an eye out for any trouble. Although they may have some initial wariness of strangers, they are willing to welcome newcomers into the home and will typically adjust to them quickly.


These dogs are remarkably intelligent. This can make training a much easier task, as the Portuguese water dog can pick up on new lessons quicker than some other breeds. Likewise, the Portuguese water dog is also highly adaptable, allowing it to pivot to new environments and situations with relative ease.

Portuguese water dogs are considered biddable dogs, meaning that when they are given an order, they are quick to obey. Since these dogs are always looking to please their owners, training is a much more cooperative process.

Portuguese Water Dogs
Image Credit: slipschutz, Pixabay

Health & Care

The Portuguese water dog is a very healthy dog overall. Of course, there are potential health conditions that this breed is more prone to, but those issues tend to be relatively minor.

The less concerning issues that a Portuguese water dog may be at risk for include distichiasis, which is when an eyelash grows from an irregular spot and causes irritation to the eye. They may also be at a slightly higher risk for canine hip dysplasia, the loosening of the hip joint that can lead to discomfort and pain. They may also experience alopecia or significant hair loss.

A major health condition that they may be at higher risk for is progressive retinal atrophy. This condition is the deterioration of cells within the eye and can potentially lead to blindness.

When grooming the Portuguese water dog, regular care is required. These dogs have long, curly coats that require daily brushing. They also shed at around the same rate as an average dog, so some clean-up is expected.

Suitable For:

Since the Portuguese water dog is so friendly with their loved ones as well as young children, they can be great companions for families. However, these are active dogs, so any family that brings them home would need to be prepared to meet their dog’s exercise needs. Sometimes, Portuguese water dogs can be so excitable around their loved ones that they may accidentally go overboard around very young children, and the ages of any children in the home should be considered.

These dogs are energetic and require frequent mental stimulation, which is not the best fit for owners who cannot provide that outlet. First-time dog owners may enjoy the ease of training that a Portuguese water dog can provide, but their constant need for physical and mental activity may become quickly overwhelming.


Poodle Overview

white toy poodle in the grass
Image Credit: ardiwebs, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

Poodles are proud dogs with loving personalities. They are always eager to be around their family members and are good with younger children. When it comes to other pets, the poodle may be initially wary but will likely warm up to them over time with proper socialization and supervision.

They are energetic dogs, though slightly less so than the Portuguese water dog, and they require plenty of mental stimulation. If they are not regularly given a task or a form of entertainment, the poodle may be inclined to get into mischief to ease its boredom. They are playful dogs that are always looking to have some fun.

Poodles are vocal dogs that bark often and are always alert when it comes to watching over their family. However, they are happy to welcome strangers into the home with time and proper introductions.


Poodles are among the most intelligent dogs in the world and are eager to please. This makes them excellent dogs to train, as they are quick to learn new lessons and glad to obey orders. They are fairly adaptable dogs and can adjust to most new situations with relative ease.

Black Poodle Playing
Image Credit: Kieran Wood, Unsplash

Health & Care

There are some minor health issues that poodles may be at risk for, such as a luxating patella, which is the dislocation of the kneecap. Poodles may also be more prone to developing sebaceous adenitis, otherwise known as an inflammatory disease of the skin glands. In addition to these relatively minor health concerns, there are also a few serious complications that poodles may be more likely to deal with.

Poodles are at risk for gastric dilatation with volvulus, otherwise known as bloat. This may not sound all that serious, but the truth is that it can be life-threatening. When the bloat becomes so large that the stomach twists on itself and blocks both the entrance and exit to the stomach, a volvulus forms. When the condition progresses to this stage, immediate surgery is required.

Another issue that poodles may run into is Addison’s Disease. This condition is when the adrenal glands fail to produce enough corticosteroid hormones. These glands are responsible for managing stress levels, and when they do not work properly, poodles are unable to regulate their emotional state. This can lead to serious health issues, including death.

Grooming is important to the health of poodles. A poodle’s coat should receive regular grooming, including daily brushes and frequent hair trimmings. On the plus side, poodles barely shed at all. So, while they can be high maintenance in terms of grooming, there will be relatively little fur to sweep up.

Suitable For:

Poodles can be great family dogs; they love their owners and are good with children. A poodle will thrive the best with an energetic family that is able to participate in activities with their dog, so if you are looking for a lively partner to join you on any sort of activity, this dog could be the perfect fit.

Poodles require plenty of mental stimulation. If a first-time dog owner is not prepared to meet that need, they may find themselves in trouble sooner rather than later. Dog owners who are looking for an intelligent and obedient companion will find a great friend in the poodle.

Obedient purebred Poodle standing on rocky cliff near sea
Image Credit: Skyler Ewing, Pexels

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Which Breed Is Right For You?

Both the Portuguese water dog and the poodle make excellent companions. They are intelligent, energetic dogs with a deep affection for their family, and they are always looking to please their owners. Although their lively personalities may easily get out of hand with a less experienced dog owner, a prepared dog owner will be more than capable of instilling proper behavior into either of these breeds.

While there are differences between the breeds, overall, they are remarkably similar. Neither is a better or worse option than the other and in the end, the choice between the two will come down to personal preference.

Featured Image Credit: Top – Maria Bell, Shutterstock | Bottom – chili71, Pixabay

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