Portuguese Water Dogs are medium sized working dogs that were developed to help fisherman in Portugal in the 1930s. They excelled at tasks such as herding fish into nets, retrieving lost fishing equipment and sending messages between ships, and from ship to shore.
These days, they’re best known as affectionate, trainable and eager to please companions. But they’re sometimes used for water rescue work given their natural skill in this area.
Do they shed lots? Portuguese Water Dogs (Porties) are a low shedding breed that, according to the American Kennel Club, has a hypoallergenic coat. However, they are a bit higher maintenance than the average dog when it comes to grooming.
Let’s take a closer look at just how much Porties shed and what it takes to maintain their coat, to give you a better idea of what to expect before deciding to adopt.
Portuguese Water Dog Shedding
Porties are a low shedding breed.
In fact, they are one of the lowest shedding dogs out there. They shed about the same as dogs like the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and Poodle.
Some will say the reason they don’t shed much is because they “have hair rather than fur.” But this is not the case because hair and fur are the same thing.
However, there is some truth to this.
Because, in dogdom, the term “hair” is often associated with dogs that have longer hair, and a longer hair growth cycle, than dogs with “fur.”
Similar to humans, the hair growth cycle in dogs is the natural process of hair growing (anagen), resting (catagen), and eventually falling out to make way for the new batch (telogen). And the longer the anagen phase takes to run its course, the longer the hair tends to grow and the less the dog tends to shed.
Another reason Porties don’t shed much is because they do not have an undercoat. As a result, they don’t shed very heavily during times like spring and fall as most double coated dogs do. So, if you do notice any hair loss, it will typically be very minimal and steady throughout the year.
With that being said, if you are noticing heavy shedding, there may be an underlying problem. Things like stress, fleas, allergies and poor diet can cause excessive shedding. So if you have any concerns, contact your local veterinarian.
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Are PWDs Hypoallergenic?
Yes, Portuguese Water Dogs are considered to be a hypoallergenic dog breed by the American Kennel Club. However, it’s important to understand that no dog is ever truly hypoallergenic. Meaning, all dogs can potentially trigger allergies in some people. It’s just that dogs, like the PWD and others like Irish Water Spaniel, are less likely to do so.
Why are they considered hypoallergenic?
The reason Porties are considered to be “hypoallergenic” is mostly because their coat produces less dander. But how little they shed can also play a part. Not because of the hair itself, this doesn’t cause dog allergies, their dander (dead skin), drool, urine and sweat does.
But because the less a dog molts, the less dander he is likely to spread around the home. So most so-called non-allergenic dogs are normally low shedders.
What Are Porties Like to Groom?
Grooming a Portie takes more time and effort than the average dog.
Although it does depend on the type of coat your Portie has. The AKC breed standard states that Porties can have two types of coat. Either curly or wavy.
Curly coated PWDs have compact, curly and somewhat dull curls compared to a Poodle for example. Whereas wavy coated Porties have straighter, wavier hair.
There are some commonalities though.
Both varieties are single coated, meaning they only have one layer of fur instead of an outer coat and an undercoat. And both have thick, profuse coats that come in black, white or brown.
How much time you spend grooming him also depends on how you decide to keep his coat. There are basically two different grooming styles, lion cut and retriever cut, and one is easier to maintain than the other. But both involve clipping because if they’re not clipped, their hair will continue growing to the point it can cause problems.
- The lion cut: this involves shaving two thirds of the hair off of the hindquarters, muzzle and tail of the PWD. This is the traditional cut used to help them adjust to the initial shock of jumping into the cold waters of Portugal in which they worked.
- The retriever cut: This cut simply involves shaving them down to one inch (or 2.5cm) over their whole body.
The easier grooming option is by far the retriever cut, and this is what most owners opt for. Simply because it removes the need for constant brushing and specialized clipping. However, keep in mind that this cut won’t insulate him as well in cold water and he will normally need clipping or trimming every month or two to keep his coat in good shape anyway.
If you let his hair grow longer, brush a few times per week with a slicker brush. These are ideal for gently removing mats and tangles, as well as removing any loose hairs from his coat. And if you keep him clipped, brushing with a pin or bristle brush should suffice.
Aside from brushing, there are some other things to keep in mind when it comes to grooming. Such as bathing, regular nail trimming, and cleaning his ears and teeth properly.
What about bathing?
He doesn’t need to be bathed very often, but the occasional bath can help maintain his coat. Just be sure to use a good quality shampoo designed for dogs, and preferably one that adds moisture to his skin. Over bathing, or using harsh shampoos can cause dryness, irritation. Which in turn can lead to excessive shedding.
Also, whenever he’s been out for a swim, rinse his coat with some fresh water. This simple routine can help prevent issues due to dry salt or other substances left on his coat after swimming.
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Portuguese Water Dogs are affectionate, trainable and eager to please family dogs, as well as capable working dogs that excel in the water.
And to top it off, they don’t shed much!
However, the PWD’s coat is fairly high maintenance. So you should expect to either to put some time into trimming the coat yourself or hire a professional groomer to do it for you.
So, Porties are a beautiful and unique dog that most people will love having around the home. But if you’re looking for a low shedding dog that is also lower maintenance, dogs like the Basenji are worth considering as an alternative breed.