labradoodle vs portuguese water dog

Labradoodle Vs Portuguese Water Dog

Labradoodle vs Portuguese Water Dog? These are both curly coated breeds with high energy levels, affectionate and loyal natures. Portuguese Water Dogs can have higher prey drive and be a little more wary of strangers, and Labradoodles can vary more in terms of their temperament and coat type. The differences between them mean that they are better suited to slightly different homes and lifestyles. Today we’ll help you to separate the two dogs’ traits, and decide which is better suited to your family and lifestyle.

In this complete decision making guide to the Labradoodle vs Portuguese Water Dog (PWD), we compare all the similarities and differences between these dogs, and help you identify what qualities are most important to you. The Labradoodle vs Portuguese Water Dog dilemma is a common one among people looking for a medium sized, friendly, active, non-shedding dog. In fact these canines have an awful lot in common.

Portuguese Water Dogs are as cute and curly as a Labradoodle, but could they possibly be better? Let’s find out!

Labradoodle vs Portuguese Water Dog History

Labradoodles are usually a first generation crossbreed between a Labrador Retriever and a Standard Poodle. (Except when they’re an Australian Labradoodle – but we’ll come back to them later). Both of their parents were traditionally waterfowl retrieving breeds. But this mix has achieved worldwide success as a sought after family pet. On the other hand, Portuguese Water Dogs are a purebred dog breed from the Algarve region of Portugal. They were originally developed as a multi-talented fisherman’s dog. Jobs they carried out included herding fish into nets, retrieving items dropped into the water, carrying messages and rescuing men who fell overboard. These days they are more commonly kept as pets, but the differences in their past account for some differences in their temperament and lifestyle needs.

Labradoodle Vs Portuguese Water Dog appearance

Labradoodles’ appearance has the potential to vary a lot from one individual to another, depending upon whether they take after their Labrador or Poodle parent more. Their size can vary from 40lbs all the way up to 80lbs. Their frame can be lean and leggy like a Poodle, or square and stocky – especially if their Labrador parent was of show type, and they have inherited their looks strongly from that side of the family. Labradoodle coats can come in a wide range of colors and textures.

labradoodle vs portuguese water dog

By contrast, since they are a pedigree dog, Portuguese Water Dogs have a much more consistent appearance. Females weigh 35 to 50 pounds, and males weigh 42 to 60 pounds. Their single layer coat is curly or wavy and comes in black, brown, or white. Overall though, Labradoodles and PWDs are quite comparable in looks. So much so that the relatively unusual PWD is quite often mistaken for a Labradoodle when out and about!

Are Portuguese water dogs hypoallergenic?

Lots of interest in Labradoodles is fuelled by the misunderstanding that non-shedding coats are hypoallergenic. Portuguese Water Dogs are often shortlisted as another hypoallergenic alternative. Especially since the Obama family famously adopted two Portuguese Water Dogs on the basis that they were allergy-friendly. Unfortunately however, there is no evidence that either type of dog is more hypoallergenic than any other breed. The proteins which trigger people’s dog allergies are produced in dogs’ saliva, sweat and urine. And studies have revealed that non-shedding dogs produce the same amount of allergens as shedding dogs.

If someone in your household has dog allergies, sometimes their reaction can be managed by washing the dog at least twice a week, and dusting and vacuuming the house every day. Furthermore, the allergens which dogs produce are all subtly unique at a molecular level, as are our immune systems. So every now and then someone with allergies lucks out and meets a dog which doesn’t trigger them. But it won’t be to do with them being either a Labradoodle or a PWD!

Labradoodle Vs Portuguese Water Dog temperament

Labradoodles owe much of their success to the idea that they combine a Poodle’s non-shedding coat, and a Labrador’s easy-going good nature. As with all mixed breed dogs though, it’s important to bear in mind that Labradoodles don’t always inherit the most desirable traits of each breed. Poodles tend to be less confident around unfamiliar dogs than Labradors, and more like to display watchdog behaviors, like barking at people who approach their home. A Labradoodle can also inherit these traits. A Labradoodle’s personality will also be partly shaped by whether their Labrador parent comes from working or show lines. Working Labradors are much more high energy and always switched on, whilst show Labs are generally willing to spend a bit more time relaxing.

Portuguese Water Dog temperament is similar to that of a working Labrador. They are affectionate and active, and have a strong instinct to seek out mental stimulation as well as physical activity. PWDs are also similar to Poodles in the sense that they have a notable watchdog instinct. Since PWD temperament is quite reliably consistent and Labradoodles are variable, PWD personality is very similar to some Doodles, and very different to others!

In general, owing to their higher profile and popularity, more generations of show type Labradors and Poodles have been bred for a perfect pet personality. PWDs are less common, and their temperament is still closer to that of their working ancestors. PWDs and working Labs need several hours of training, engagement and exercise every day, which may overwhelm inexperienced dog owners. Arguably, Labradoodles from show dogs have more potential to be a good first time dog.

Labradoodle vs Portuguese Water Dog training and exercise

Both of these dogs are very active. You’ll need to spend at least two hours a day outside exercising with either of them. They are also both very intelligent – they are capable of learning and remembering new cues relatively quickly and easily. In fact they are both successful in service roles, such as supporting deaf or blind people, and detecting the onset of epileptic seizures or blood sugar changes in people with diabetes.

Dogs with lots of working ancestors in their family tree are the quickest to teach, but also demand the most mental stimulation. You can’t just teach them the basics quickly and declare them ‘finished’! They will get bored, and probably eat your house or dig their way out of your garden. To occupy them you’ll need to provide mental activities such as training in additional skills. This is likely to be the case for Labradoodles with working Labrador parents, and PWDs. Labradoodles with a show Labrador parent might be a little less demanding. But they still need at least two hours of exercise a day, and lots of games to play at home.

Do Labradoodles like water?

It’s hardly surprising that Portuguese Water Dogs have a strong affinity for water. It’s a trait of the breed which made them so well suited to their jobs helping fishermen in the past. Labradoodles also usually have a strong love of water. The original working Labs and Poodles were sent to collect shot waterfowl, wherever it landed, which being waterfowl quite often meant in water.

So whether you choose a Labradoodle or a PWD, they’re almost certain to love swimming! Swimming and retrieving items from water are a great way to provide exercise which is gentle on their joints. They also satisfy an emotional need to carry out the instinctive behaviors which we bred them for in the first place. If they really enjoy it, you might even be interested in trying dock diving together!

Labradoodle and Portuguese Water Dog Health

How do Labradoodles and Portuguese Water Dogs compare at the veterinary clinic? The most common health problems of Labradoodles are

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Allergies
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Ear infections
  • Obesity

Labradoodles do enjoy some health advantages of being a mixed breed too. For example purebred Poodles are prone to sebaceous adenitis, an irritating and itchy skin condition which is caused by a faulty gene. Since it appears to only affect puppies who inherit the faulty gene from both parents, and the faulty gene is rare in Labradors, most first generation Labradoodles are protected from it.

Large samples of health data are less readily available for PWDs, but the most common hereditary health problems affecting the breed seem to be hip and elbow dysplasia and thyroid disease. It’s likely that they are also prone to ear infections, since It’s the shape of the Labradoodles ear, and their love of swimming, which means that bacteria easily end up trapped in the warm, moist inside of their ear, and flourish.

A significant problem facing PWDs is that their population size is small. In smaller populations it is harder to minimize the effects of inbreeding, and breeding within small pedigrees is known to reduce average life expectancy. On the other hand, crossbreeding is good for longevity, because it can protect dogs against some hereditary diseases, as we’ve already seen. As it stands, data from longevity surveys suggests that Labradoodles live 12 to 13 years on average, whilst PWDs live 11 to 12 years. But again only information from a small number of PWDs was available to produce that figure.

Labradoodles vs Portuguese Water Dog puppies

One of the big advantages of the Labradoodle over the Portuguese Water Dogs is a pragmatic one. Labradoodles are widely bred and finding a planned litter for sale or an older dog for adoption near you is likely to be pretty straightforward. PWDs are much less common, and breeders’ waiting lists for puppies are likely to be longer. You might also have to travel further to collect your puppy.

However this isn’t a completely unqualified ‘win’ for the Labradoodle. Due to their popularity, Labradoodles are also one of the dogs most commonly offered for sale by puppy farmers. Puppy farmers operate by breeding litters as intensively as possible to make maximum profit. They don’t commission health tests for their sires and dams, and they don’t take care to socialize their puppies before it’s time to sell them. As a result, puppies from puppy farms are more likely to have long term problems with their health and behavior.

Whichever dog you pick, it’s important to take your time to choose a responsible and reputable breeder. In the case of the Labradoodle, you might have to discount a lot more bad breeders before you find a good one. Remember that good quality puppies are always worth the wait!

Portuguese water dog vs Australian Labradoodle?

One of the main drawbacks of a Labradoodle vs Portuguese Water Dog is that Labradoodles are first generation crossbreed dogs, which means that some of their qualities are variable and unpredictable. Significantly, their behavior when you meet them as a puppy isn’t a reliable indicator of which parent they will be most like when they are grown up.

Australian Labradoodles are the result of a breeding project started in Australia in the 1990s to turn Labradoodles into a new pedigree dog breed in their own right. These days, two Australian Labradoodle puppies ought to ‘breed true’, meaning that their puppies will be reliably the same again. Genetic analysis suggests that they have turned out rather more like Poodles than Labradors, but if you meet a breeder with a sire and dam you love, you can be reassured that you know what to expect their puppies to be like. You can find out more about how Australian Labradoodles compare to first generation Labradoodles right here. LINK

Which dog is best for you??

Neither the Labradoodle nor the Portuguese Water Dog is objectively a better pet. There’s only what’s best for you, according to your expectations, your lifestyle, and the kind of home you’re able to offer a dog. In fact, these two dogs have so much in common that it’s very hard to draw any distinctions between them.

Both dogs have a lot of energy, and need plenty of physical and mental activities to channel that energy into. Before committing to either, it’s a good idea to be completely honest with yourself about how many other responsibilities and obligations you have, and whether this is the right time to make such a big commitment to a dog. Neither breed will cope well with being left without anything to do for long periods. But a Labradoodle from show-type Labrador lines might be satisfied with slightly fewer jobs and activities to occupy them than a Labradoodle from working lines or a PWD.

Both dogs are well suited to active families where someone is at home and available to interact with them for several hours a day. They can both be good companions for children too, but bear in mind that young children should always be supervised with dogs, and a high energy Labradoodle or PWD can easily knock over a small child (or elderly person!) by accident.

Do you have a Labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog?

Please tell us about your reasons for choosing them in the comments!

References and Further Reading

Adams et al. Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2010.

Nicholas et al. Dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic compared with non hypoallergenic dogs. American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy. 2011.

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

Robinson et al. Puppy Temperament Assessments Predict Breed and American Kennel Club Group but Not Adult Temperament. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 2016.

Vredegoor et al. Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds. Lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2012.

Wauthier et al. Using the mini C-BARQ to investigate the effects of puppy farming on dog behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2018.

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