breeding Portuguese water dogs since 2002

Miraval PWDs

Before you fill out an application what you need to know…

The media hypes these dogs as great family dogs that are hypoallergenic.

PWDs are not hypoallergenic. No dog is. The hypo-allergenic myth comes from the fact that they have hair not fur. That means they don’t shed all over the place. However, they lose hair the same way we do. You won’t find hair on your clothes and furniture, but you can get dust bunnies depending on how often you vacuum.

Because they shed LESS, they have LESS dander, but just like us, they drop skin cells all over the place and thus allergic people can still have an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to pollen or anything else outside know they will bring it in on their coats.  Some people aren’t allergic to the dander but are allergic to the saliva.  If you are near a PWD you will get saliva on you. They are very licky, mouthy dogs. They will lick exposed skin and your clothes. You may even be allergic to the saliva on the toys they bring you.

A PWD is not a good dog for the very young, the very old, or the frail. 

They are enthusiastic, passionate dogs. Although they can be taught not to jump on people, or pull when walking, getting to the point when those behaviors are reliable is a process. Anyone who is not very stable on their feet is likely to be knocked down or pulled over.  Except under extraordinary circumstances I don’t consider families with children under 5. I think there are better breeds for young children.

As cute as PWD puppies are they are also incredibly mouthy – more so than many other breeds.  As young puppies they have needle teeth that can draw blood when overexcited, no manners or impulse control.

They are very energetic dogs throughout their entire life. They eventually do slow down but it may not be until they are 10 or so.

A note to people who have had a PWD… While you know much of what I’m talking about from experience, chances are that your best memories are of having an older, trained PWD. The challenges of puppyhood were a long time ago when you were younger. Please think realistically if you are up for a puppy or if a young adult might be a better match.

They “can” be great family dogs, but they require more work than a lab or Golden Retriever to get there. They are as smart, maybe even smarter than some of the popular breeds, and they are definitely more creative. You’ll see top obedience competitors with Golden Retrievers because you can drill behaviors when training. A PWD will do it a couple of times and then try it a new way. That’s what I love about them, but you must be willing to stay a step ahead.


After more than 20 years of being involved with PWDs and training many other kinds of dogs both one-on-one and in classes I have figured out what makes some owners and families more successful than others. These are the things that I look at as I review applications.

>> Does it seem like you have done your homework. Getting a puppy can’t be an impulse purchase. Are you ready to have another family member for 10-12 or more years?


to the puppy application >

>> Why do you want a PWD instead of another breed. Is it just based on what you read online?  If you haven’t met any PWDs you must do that before you can decide if this is the right breed for you. The Portuguese Water Dog group on Facebook has a lot of pet owners. Perhaps you can meet someone who lives near you for a socially distanced visit.

>> Do you have young children? These are very mouthy puppies with sharp needle teeth, and they quickly grow into a young dog that will knock a child down. This is not a good breed for children who haven’t been exposed to medium size dogs.

>> Have you had a dog before? This is not a good breed as a first dog. They have known to bring strong adults to tears. They really require management and training more then most other breeds.

>> Do you have a fenced yard? Unless you live in an apartment you must have a fenced area for your puppy. Someday it will be raining or you will be in a rush and just want to let the dog out. An underground fence works around the perimeter, but not as an only fence. You can fence off a portion of your yard where you can spend time with your dog and play with them, or you can have a fenced dog run. You can’t just let the dog loose on your property – even if a previous dog was fine with that.

>> Are you interested in training or do you look at it as something you have to agree to do? The more interested you are in training the better. Besides basic manners training, there are so many opportunities to do things with your dog that are fun for both of you and build your relationship. There is agility, obedience, tracking (following the scent on a trail) nose work (identifying a sent hidden in or around boxes, buildings cars, and other places. There is dock diving and water work based on the work the dogs did on the boats in Portugal.

There are places that are doing in-person classes with safety precautions, on-line trainers, in-home trainers, and online classes. There are free and paid resources.

Someone who is committed to working with their dog and doing positive training moves up the list. If you have trained a dog in the past that will give you a great foundation. You just need to keep in mind that training methods have changed in the last 10 years and every dog is different.

>> Can you keep up with a dog that will be like a toddler for 10 years? PWDs are an active, busy dog. They are curious and smart and if you fail to provide them with both physical AND mental stimulation, they will destroy your house.

>> Will you commit to crate training and continuing to use a crate? Your puppy needs a place to be safe when you can’t watch it or be with it. Everyone in the family must be consistent to teach the dog that raiding the garbage, the clothes hamper, or shredding important papers, is not appropriate behavior.

>> Once you have the puppy will you follow through?  You’ve probably heard about puppy socialization. You’ll need to do more than a puppy class. The more experiences, noises, surfaces your puppy is exposed to when it’s young will create the most stable adult dog.

A happy puppy is a physically and mentally tired puppy.  Many people think that they can just take their pup out for a long hike and it will go to sleep and be good.

First, young puppies can’t do long walks. They can have lots of playtime in the yard where they control the level of activity and go for short walks.  Second. the more physical exercise the puppy gets, the greater stamina that puppy will have to be active, alert, and naughty.

>> Will you keep your puppy at a good weight and manage its exercise?

>> Will you check out your Vet and challenge them if you (or I) don’t agree with them? I am not a Vet, and will not give medical advice, but there is a lot of work being done by behaviorists about “Fear Free” Veterinary protocols, and research about vaccination schedules and spaying and neutering that all Vets are not familiar with. It’s important to have a Vet that is open to learning.

>> Will you wait to neuter or spay your puppy until it is 18 months – 2 years old? Your veterinarian may very well argue with you about this as they are taught that doing it at a young age will reduce animal populations. However, all research is pointing to the dangers of early spay/neuter in terms of higher rates of cancers, more behavioral problems, and elimination of proper signals for growth.

That’s why it’s important that we be on the same page about these issues.  One of the most important features of my contract is that if you EVER decide you can’t keep your dog you will return it to me. I will rehome it and may be able to return some of what you paid for it. If something happens to you and a family member wants it we can certainly discuss that.

The reason you don’t see many PWDs in rescue is because ALL responsible breeders include this clause.

If after reading this, you think you are a good fit please fill out an application.

If you don’t meet some of my criteria, for example, you have young children or you don’t have a fenced yard, please explain why you are the right home anyway.

to the application