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Portuguese Water Dog Grooming: 7 Easy & Effective Tips

Written by: Jana Blagojevic

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

portuguese water dog getting a bath

Portuguese Water Dog Grooming: 7 Easy & Effective Tips


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

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

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If you’ve got a Portuguese Water Dog but don’t know how to take care of their gorgeous curls, you’re in the right place! This dog breed has one of the more beautiful coats in the dog world, with luscious curls or waves that cover their entire body. These dogs have several possible haircuts, but grooming includes trimming their nails and brushing their teeth, as well.

If you’d like to learn how to care for your Portuguese Water Dog and groom them properly, read the article below.

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The 7 Portuguese Water Dog Grooming Tips

1. Consider the Type of Coat Your Portuguese Water Dog Has

The first and most important part of grooming your Portuguese Water Dog’s unique coat is determining its exact type. This breed can have two types of coats—curly and wavy. A curly coat can easily be recognized by the tight and compact curls that are almost cylindrical in shape. This curliness can often be spread evenly around the ears and even inside as well. The wavy coat is much looser and gentler; the waves fall toward the ground and have a slight sheen.

Differentiating between these two coats will help you learn how to groom your dog properly.

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

2. Decide on the Type of Haircut

Once you learn the type of coat your dog has, it is time to learn the appropriate haircut. There are various types of haircuts to give a Portuguese Water Dog—a retriever trim or a lion clip being the most popular two. You can opt for a groomer to clip your dog, or learn to do this yourself.

A retriever trim keeps the entire body the same length while the end of the tail stays long and intact. The length of the coat is an individual preference, with the hair on the muzzle needing to be slightly shorter. This type of haircut requires constant maintenance and even regular brushing. This haircut needs maintenance and trimming every 6 to 8 weeks to keep it neat and in shape.

A lion cut is a unique haircut that keeps the hair on the thorax and forelimbs a natural length while the muzzle and rear end are extremely short. The tail is trimmed in the same way as the retriever trim. While this type of haircut is much easier and quicker to achieve, it requires even more regular brushing several times a week, which can be tedious.

3. Bathing Your Portuguese Water Dog

Your Portuguese Water Dog must have a proper and fairly regular bath. Bathing your dog with dog shampoo (not human shampoo) should be done every month or two to keep your dog feeling fresh and smelling great.

black and white Portuguese Water dog
Image By: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

4. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Often

A regular part of grooming your dog should be dental care. Since dogs can get periodontal disease when plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth, brushing their teeth as frequently as possible is recommended. This will help reduce the plaque collecting on their teeth and can prevent serious dental issues in the future. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste appropriate for dogs and give them dental chew toys.

5. Ear Care

Because the Portuguese Water Dog has longer ears, they are more susceptible to ear infections. Their unique thick fur also spreads all the way inside their ears, so regular trimming is important. You need to clean your dog’s ears with a solution safe for dogs. Make sure to consult your veterinarian for a perfect ear-cleaning solution to use on your pooch. If you feel unsure, you can always take your dog to a professional to have their ears cleaned and trimmed thoroughly.

close up of a black portuguese water dog
Image By: Zadranka, Shutterstock

6. Brushing

Whether you decide to get your dog a haircut or not, this breed needs to be brushed daily or every other day to prevent tangles from forming. We advise you to begin early in their life with this habit to get them used to the feeling of a comb. The best choice for this type of coat is a sturdy, slicker brush although for those with long and wavy coats a pin brush would be ok too. It would be best if you were persistent in removing any tangles in your dog’s fur but be careful not to hurt them—we don’t want to make this a traumatic experience for them. If a tangle is stubborn and resists a comb, it might be best to carefully cut it away to prevent further forming of knots and tangles.

7. Trimming Their Nails

Trimming your dog’s nails is essential if you want to keep your dog well-groomed. This can be done either by a professional or from your own home. If you decide to do it on your own, you need to have suitable clippers and ensure not to cut them too short. so as not to get the quick, which has nerves and blood vessels. Cutting the quick can cause pain and bleeding, so make sure you know how to avoid it. One rule of thumb to remember is to cut a dog’s nails only when they begin touching the ground. Dogs that are more active and spend most of their time running around can go longer without nail clipping because their nails shorten from constant contact with the ground.

Dog nail grinder
Image By: LightField Studios, Shutterstock


After you read about all the best ways to keep your Portuguese Water Dog well-groomed, you can give them the best treatments while ensuring they always look their best. This dog has a lovely unique coat, but it certainly needs a fair bit of maintenance!

Featured Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

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