How to Groom a Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese water dog sheds minimal fur.
Black small poodle puppy image by Vitalij Geraskin from

The Portuguese water dog is known for his trademark waterproof coat, unerring spirit and sense of adventure. He is an energetic dog that requires daily exercise as well as routine coat maintenance. The water dog can have a curly or wavy coat, but the grooming and trimming standards remain the same. A water dog with a curly coat has fur that is tightly curled with little luster, and a dog with a wavy coat has looser curls and a light sheen. Grooming your water dog is beneficial to the health of his coat and skin, and is time well spent bonding with your canine.

Step 1

Shampoo your Portuguese water dog with a shampoo designed for dogs. Wet him thoroughly with warm water, and lather his entire body. Avoid getting shampoo in his eyes, ears or mouth. Rinse him thoroughly with warm water. Bathe your dog once every two months or on an as-needed basis.

Step 2

Apply conditioner to your water dog, if desired. Because a water dog does not have an undercoat, you can dilute conditioner for a light yet thorough application. Pour two or three tablespoons of conditioner designed for dogs in an empty plastic milk or juice jug, and fill the jug with water. Pour the contents over your dog's body, working the conditioner mixture into the fur and skin. Rinse the conditioner out thoroughly, and dry your dog with a clean towel. Conditioner moisturizes the coat and skin and can be especially beneficial in colder weather.

Step 3

Brush your Portuguese water dog with a slicker brush. The slicker brush is gentle enough to remove mats and snarls without causing damage to sensitive skin. A water dog is known for his strong coat, but be gentle in areas where the fur is thinner, such as the groin and behind the elbow.

Step 4

Trim your water dog's body to maintain the breed standard with what is known as a Retriever Clip. Trim the fur on his body using blunt-end scissors to about one inch. You may opt to use thinning shears if you prefer a longer coat, although a correctly groomed water dog's fur follows the natural outline of his body. Trim his tail except for the tip, which can grow naturally. Stand back and inspect your work periodically to ensure a well-blended trim.

Step 5

Trim your Portuguese water dog's face and muzzle to give him a refined appearance. The muzzle is trimmed slightly shorter than the rest of the body. Take extra care trimming around his eyes and ears to prevent injury.

Step 6

Brush your water dog's teeth at least once weekly to keep plaque under control. Slide a finger brush over your index finger, and apply a small amount of toothpaste designed for dogs. Brush his teeth gently and stimulate his gums to maintain optimal oral health.

Items You Will Need

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner (optional)
  • Plastic jug
  • Slicker brush
  • Blunt-end scissors or thinning shears
  • Finger brush
  • Dog toothpaste


About the Author

Kimberly DeCosta is an accomplished equestrian and entrepreneur. She has written for numerous equestrian publications and authored marketing packages for large companies and sports teams.

Photo Credits

  • Black small poodle puppy image by Vitalij Geraskin from