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How Big Does A Portuguese Water Dog Get? [Average Size Guide]

If you are looking at the Portuguese Water dog, then naturally you are going to want to know how big they are going to get. Besides, size really can make a difference when it comes to owning a particular breed. And when looking at pictures of this one, it can be very hard to tell! That is why I spent some time researching the Portuguese Water Dog average and standard to find out exactly what size you can expect. I’ll be sharing with you all that I found here today.

So, how big does a Portuguese water dog get? The Portuguese Water Dog is classified as a medium-sized breed, averaging between 17-23 inches in height and weighing between 35-60 pounds. Males are typically larger and heavier than females. Either way, you can expect this particular breed to reach their full adult height by the time they are 18 months of age.

And they don’t usually stop there, either.

They typically continue to grow out and increase in weight until they reach 2 years of age – when their final pre-determined size is typically revealed.

Portuguese Water Dog Size

These are certainly not the biggest of dogs, but that does not mean they are small either.

While they may not look too intimidating, they will definitely not be able to sit on your lap either!

Anyone interested in this breed will need to know a few things.

The first is that they are high-spirited.

Second, they are highly intelligent and eager to please.

And third, they are known to have their own minds.

It takes a committed owner to get the best out of the dog.

This will mean consistent training from the day that they are brought home.

Otherwise, the willful temperament can get the better of you.

Taking it one step further, this particular breed is far from a couch potato.

You may have guessed by their name, but these are active dogs and you will need to be willing to meet their exercise needs.

But at least they’re not aggressive.

With all this in mind, let us now take a closer look at the average size of this dog breed.

We will be looking at the specific height and weights for both male and female sexes.

We’ll also explore their growth trajectory and when they reach adulthood; both in terms of size and mental maturity.

Lastly, we will be looking at whether this particular breed is right for you, from both a size and personality perspective.

So, be sure to keep on reading if you want to learn more about Porties (as they are affectionately known) and you are serious about taking one in!

Average Portuguese Water Dog Height, Weight, And Size

Portuguese water dogs will reach different sizes depending on their sex:

  • Male Portuguese Water Dogs will reach an average height of 20-23″ and weighing 42-60 pounds.
  • Females are somewhat smaller, averaging between 17-21″ and weighing between 35-50 pounds.

In build, they are strong and athletic. Due in part to their long working history being used to assist fishermen on their boats, herding fish into the nets, and retrieving lost gear.

Hence, the ‘water’ aspect of their name.

Since their working days, they have become more commonly kept as pets due to a range of positive characteristics and traits.

They make excellent companions and they suit many households, including those with children.

These dogs thrive in active families, particularly if they have a pool or live near a beach.

Taking these dogs swimming is a great way to exercise them, and enable them to put their power and energy to use.

One thing to note with this breed is that they typically grow faster compared to other smaller breeds within the first year of life.

So, they must be closely observed during this time and appropriately cared for.

It goes without saying that a high-quality diet is a must; providing all the nutrients and protein that they need to grow up and reach their full-size potential.

But, while they are young and are growing through their growth spurts, it is equally important that you do not over-exercise them.

Their joints and bones are tender during the early months, and the growth plates can be damaged if they undertake any activity for too long or too rigorously (i.e. excessive running or jumping).

Thankfully, Porties do very well with training; and can excel in sports such as obedience, agility, rally, tracking, and water work due to their frames and strength.

Nevertheless, activity is important for this particular breed or they otherwise become bored and discontented.

It is during this time they will resort to being destructive.

But, as long as this dog gets sufficient training and exercise; they can adapt well to most homes, including apartments. Size not being a major issue here.

Is A Portuguese Water Dog A Large Breed?

Portuguese Water Dogs are not deemed a large breed; instead being classified as medium-sized dogs.

They quite closely meet the criteria of the medium size classification; from an average breed standard perspective nonetheless.

That being said, the bigger males of this breed do edge on the side of the larger category, in terms of weight at least.

We can see this by looking at the medium size classification:

A dog breed is considered to be medium-sized if they range from 8-27″ in height and fall between 25-55 pounds in weight.

However, both requirements need to be met which is why the Portuguese Water Dog is classified as such.

In terms of their specific body type; this dog is somewhat longer and more stocky than they are tall. Most of this power will be hidden from sight, under their curly or wavy coat.

This dog is robust, they are well-muscled and capable of being active for long periods both in and out of the water.

When we consider their temperament too, overall, they are a very well-rounded dog that is competent at many things.

There are many benefits of medium-sized dogs like this breed.

They are small enough to fit in more compact spaces, while they are large enough to play like a large breed.

Suitable for apartment living, but capable of living in much larger spaces too.

The other main advantages of owning a medium-sized breed like this are that they are not as delicate as some other, small, miniature or toy breeds.

Better yet, they usually have longer lifespans with fewer orthopedic problems than large breeds.

Nevertheless, we must always remember that all dogs are different. Even from within the same breed.

They are come with their unique personalities, and are bred from a different lineage of dogs; inheriting different genes.

This is why we get such a variance in dogs even among the same breed. We can see this clearly with the coat of the Portuguese Water dog, but we can also see it in temperament and physical capacities too.

Still, people tend to love the Portuguese Water dog due to the breed average and the tendencies they typically acquire.

They are very affectionate and loyal to their families, do not shed too much, and are an appropriate size to take care of and manage.

At What Age Are Portuguese Water Dogs Fully Grown?

Portuguese water dogs generally reach their full adult size by the time that they are 18 months old. Yet, it can take until the age of two to reach their total weight.

This is a breed that grows quickly, even faster than some smaller breeds which are known for growing quicker than larger dogs.

For the Portuguese Water Dog, their growth rate does slow down somewhat during the adolescent stage, which begins around the 6-month mark.

From there, they will then fill out more by gaining weight and muscle mass.

Ensuring this dog is properly supported through diet is critical here and liaising with your vet comes advised throughout their early months and years.

You need to get the balance right; sufficient to support growth but not in excess, with a focus on diet quality.

Some Porties are prone to becoming overweight, so the amount you feed should be reflective of their age and activity level.

Treats are considered a necessary evil when training; they do help but giving too many of the wrong type can lead to weight issues.

Again, healthier treat options should be sought out and they should not b over-relied upon.

Its a good idea to research and educate yourself on some of the best treats for dogs; not only those that are designed for them but from human foods too.

If you have any concerns about your dogs weight, you can always check in with your vet.

Consider sticking to a schedule when feeding your Portuguese water dog, as this helps to feed the appropriate amount.

Remember that clean drinking water must be available at all times.

Developmental Milestones

Below, we look at the different milestones you can expect your dog to go through:

2-4 WeeksYour dogs ears and eyes will begin to open. They will begin to attempt to start walking.
2 MonthsThis is when you will typically take on your dog.
At this stage, training can begin and they transition over to solid food.
3 MonthsA small amount of appropriate activity can be introduced.
Vaccinations typically are given at this stage.
6 MonthsA Portuguese Water Dog will enter the Adolescent phase.
Behavioral changes should be expected including increased energy, stubbornness and disobedience.
9-10 MonthsYour dog will go through sexual maturity.
They should be moved over to a food and quantity advised for adults.
18-20 Months+Your dog reaches their full adult height, weight and size.
They should begin to settle down.

When Do Portuguese Water Dogs Mentally Mature?

Portuguese water dogs notoriously take longer to mentally mature than most other breeds, and this type of development is gradual rather than all of a sudden.

This steady progress into maturity does not come without its benefits; an owner can enjoy the puppy stages for longer. It doesn’t typically last long in dogs, so this is something to cherish.

As we can see from the table above:

  • Portie pups reach adolescence at six months,
  • They become sexually mature between 9 to 10 months,
  • They reach full social maturity by 20 months.

Nevertheless, many Porties retain their puppyish behavior well into adulthood.

Like any dog breed, Portuguese water dogs experience six stages of mental development, and each stage matters as much as the next.

As adolescents, Porties begin asserting themselves more and challenging their owners. This is a key phase in their development and the resulting relationship you will have with your dog.

You need to be assertive. This dog breed is naturally headstrong and will try to manipulate you to ensure they get what they want.

You must be firm but fair.

Consistent training will help your dog develop into a better manned and disciplined dog.

Better yet, you can solve many Portie puppy behavior problems by preventing them before they arise.

It’s essential your Portie knows his place in your home and knows where he stands in your family’s hierarchical pack.

Any dog that doesn’t know its position is likely to seek leadership resulting in serious problems that can be very challenging to overcome.

Consider the following tips when training your Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) puppy:

  • Only feed your dog after you eat; never before, and never feed them from the table. Alphas eat first.
  • Enter a room before they do; in other words, experience things first.
  • Try not to make a fuss over your puppy when you leave or return home, as this leads to separation anxiety. You don’t want your dog thinking that their needs are above everything else. Wait at least 5 minutes before greeting them and ignore them if they jump up on you, as this deters jumping habits from forming.
  • Never allow your dog on any furniture, particularly your bed, as this will make them think they are equal to you.
  • Avoid carrying your dog around constantly as this makes him feel superior.
  • Socialize them with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and other animals.
  • Provide them with obedience training, using firm but positive teachings.
  • Ensure they get daily exercise as PWD’s have plenty of energy to burn; if they don’t, they can become destructive.
  • Introduce crate training to your PWD since they are den animals that need a place of their own. The crate can help with housebreaking while keeping them safe while you are away.

Is The Portuguese Water Dog The Right Size For You?

The Portuguese Water dog is a good size of dog that suits most homes, families and households.

They hey can easily fit into most cars for transportation, and owners report that they have kept this breed in an apartment without an issue.

While it is true that they will need a sufficient amount of designated space within your home (an area to relax, or for their crate), what is of equal importance is the space you can afford them outside.

Whether or not it is your property, or an open space that you can regularly take them, should not matter; so long as they are able to exercise, run and play.

Along similar lines, the less space you have in your home, the more you will need to place priority on their exercise and the time they can spend outside.

They need between 30 minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise daily when they are fully grown adults.

This may include walking, jogging, running, fetch, tug-of-war, and the like. Or you can even take them for a swim and put their heritage to the test! Ensure that they are competent and safe at all times of course.

When they are still puppies, two shorter 10-15 minute walks will suffice.

All in all, you have to ultimately ask yourself if you have what it takes to look after a high-energy dog.


Portuguese Water dogs are definitely not the biggest dogs in the world. But they are far from small and are quite the powerful breed.

They’re somewhat stocky and some of the males can reach up to 60 pounds; which is not light by a long shot!

While size will unlikely be an issue when it comes to keeping them, meeting their high energy and desire for exercise may be. This is the key thing to consider regarding their ownership.

But, if you are an active family already or know that you can commit to a regular exercise schedule with them, then there is no doubt that you will be rewarded.

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