Porties have a non-shedding coat which some call hypoallergenic. While no dog is considered to be truly 100% hypoallergenic, Portuguese Water Dogs are darned close. Porties have a coat that grows much like human hair. They have no undercoat. Any dead hair that is shed is trapped in their coat rather than your carpet.
This wonderful ‘non-shedding’ trait does have a drawback though. Because the hair of a PWD will grow indefinitely, Portuguese Water Dogs need regular grooming . This is not an optional part of owning a PWD and should not be taken lightly.
PWDs can be a good breed for those with mild allergies. They produce far less dander than most dogs, making them less likely to irritate an allergy sufferer. People with dog allergies, however, should consult their medical advisor before considering the purchase of any dog.
Your portie will need very regular brushing (at least 2-3 times per week) from you, as well as a haircut every 4-6 weeks or so to make them look their best and to keep their hair from matting. This maintenance should be considered before choosing to bring home a portie.
Additionally all dogs require regular nail clipping, and checking and cleaning of their teeth.
The PWD can have either a curly or wavy coat. The curly coat is described as “Compact, cylindrical curls, somewhat lusterless. The hair on the ears is sometimes wavy.” While the wavy coat: “Falling gently in waves, not curls, and with a slight sheen.”
The coat is groomed in two general cuts, a ‘retriever’ or pet cut, and a fancier ‘lion trim’, often for show.
In the lion cut, the hindquarters, muzzle, and the base of the tail are shaved, with approximately 1/3 of the tail hair left long, also known as a flag, and the rest of the body is left full length. This traditional cut originated with the fishing dogs of Portugal. The lion cut diminished the initial shock of cold water when jumping from boats, as well as providing warmth to the vitals. The hindquarters were left shaved to allow easier movement of the back legs and the powerful, rudder-like tail.
The retriever cut is one inch (2.5 cm) long, evenly over the body (although some owners prefer the muzzle or the base of the tail shorter, again, with approximately 1/3 of the tail hair left long, also known as a flag,). This cut is a more recent style and originated because breeders wanted to make the breed more appealing to buyers. Sometimes owners will clip the hair of their dogs very short, especially in the summer months, in modified retriever cut.