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How Much Exercise Does a Portuguese Water Dog Need? Vet-Approved Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Lauren Demos

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A Portuguese Water Dog or Portie is undoubtedly recognizable by its woolly compact curls and unique lion cut. This unusual haircut served its purpose since the dogs were once bred to perform various tasks for fishermen in Portugal, and the short back allowed for easier movement. The fact that these dogs were bred for an array of water-active tasks also means that they are spectacular athletes and are brimming with energy.

These highly spirited and active dogs will need at least an hour of exercise a day. They are swimmers through and through but also love jogging, hiking, and various other dog sports.

If you are looking for an active and adventurous canine, you can’t go wrong with the Portuguese Water Dog.

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How Much Exercise Does a Portuguese Water Dog Need?

Portuguese Water Dogs will need at least an hour of exercise a day. This can be done through various activities, but it needs to be mentally and physically stimulating since a bored Portie can get destructive. Porties love water, so a 30-minute swim and a game of fetch is a good daily combination. Other times it can be a long hike or jog, a playdate in the park, water polo, and even surfing!

Because Porties are so driven and ready to work, they usually won’t stop until the job is done, so they mustn’t overdo it either. If you enjoy hiking, your Portie can join you for a hike as far as 10 miles. However, it’s best to exercise early in the day in the summer to prevent your dog from getting overworked and overheated.

Portuguese Water Dog
Image By: Zé Maria, Unsplash

What Exercise and Activities Can I Do with a Portuguese Water Dog

An active and athletic dog like a Portie will need vigorous and fun activities to keep it happy and healthy. These activities can come in many forms to keep you and your Portie enthused.

For many Portie owners, the most rewarding form of exercise involves water sports. It’s evident by their name that they enjoy several water-based activities, including swimming, retrieving, water polo, and surfing. Beaches or areas with large bodies of water that are dog friendly are prime areas for you and your Portie to have fun.

Obedience, tracking, agility, dock diving, and other sports and activities will keep your Portie mentally and physically happy. Overall, activities that your Portie will love can include:

  • Swimming
  • Walking or running
  • Hiking
  • Fetch
  • Tug-of-war
  • Dog park visits
  • Dock diving
  • Agility training
  • Obedience training
  • Puzzle games

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Are Portuguese Water Dogs Hyper?

Porties are not inherently hyperactive dogs, but they can easily become hyperactive if their energy is pent up, they are bored, and they are not being exercised enough. They were bred to do multiple jobs for fishermen, such as herd schools of fish, retrieve broken nets, and deliver messages between ships, which means they have a strong appetite for work.

Even though they are mostly companions, they still love learning new tricks, are incredibly smart, and need to have a job to do. They are sociable, outgoing dogs that can easily make new friends. They are usually great with children and other pets, but if they don’t get the right amount of daily physical activity, they can become too boisterous.

A Portuguese Water Dog in a dog agility competition (Image By: Ron Armstrong, Wikimedia Commons CC0 2.0 Generic)

Are Portuguese Water Dogs Suitable for Active Families?

Porties are among the best companions for an active family, especially one that loves water sports and outdoor adventures, including hiking. A family that owns a property with a pool or lives close to the beach or any other swimmable water source will be ideal for a Portie to live its best life. If you enjoy fishing, no dog better fits the bill for an ideal companion.

These dogs are athletes with strong bodies and minds and are confident and enthusiastic, making them perfect dogs for owners with active lifestyles. They are also perfect dogs if competitive training is what you are looking for.

They can also adapt to apartment living if you can regularly keep them mentally and physically stimulated by taking them out for a run or a game of fetch, and if there is water nearby, they’ll undoubtedly stay happy.

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Tips to Keep Your Portuguese Water Dog Physically and Mentally Healthy

Portuguese Water Dogs are medium-sized dogs, ranging in size from 35–60 pounds, and can stand 17–23 inches tall. This energetic and athletic dog is a wonderful family pet, but it requires a suitable amount of exercise, training, and attention to stay an all-around happy and healthy pet. Here are some tips to keep your Portie mentally and physically healthy:

  • Provide an hour of vigorous exercise a day.
  • Proper training and socialization should start early and continue throughout their lives.
  • Feed your Portie a high-quality, well-balanced diet approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
  • Ensure your dog sees your vet for its annual checkups.
  • Use positive reinforcement for successful training.
  • Maintain your Portie’s weight to reduce the risk of more severe health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and arthritis.
  • Provide mental stimulation with slow feeders and puzzle feeders. This stimulates mental activity and activates the nose while it sniffs for its treat.
  • Agility and obedience courses are also great for mental and physical stimulation.
  • Ensure your Portie always has a fresh supply of water to drink.
  • Consider visiting an animal behaviorist to assess and help you and your Portie.
a couple of Portuguese Water Dogs standing on rocks
Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

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Portuguese Water Dogs are active dogs that need plenty of exercise. They will need an hour a day, which can be in the form of many fun activities such as hiking, running, sports, games, and any water sports, as they love water! They will thrive with an active family that loves the outdoors, but without proper training and exercise, they can become bored and destructive. Proper physical and mental stimulation is essential for your Portie’s all-around health and happiness.

Featured Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock

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