"Health Issues Commonly Associated with the Portuguese Water Dog

"Health Issues Commonly Associated with the Portuguese Water Dog

Health & Safety

There are some really stunning dogs on the planet and none more so than the Portuguese Water Dog. Not only do these dogs boast wonderful coats but unlike many other pure breeds, they are also known to be pretty robust characters. If you are looking for a loyal and loving four-legged friend to share your home with, the Portuguese Water Dog might just fit the bill perfectly.

These lovely dogs have a long life span and if well cared for they can live up to 15+ years. However, there are a few conditions which the breed is prone to suffer from which are worth knowing about. It's important to recognise any symptoms earlier rather than later because the sooner a condition is correctly diagnosed and then treated, the better the outcome generally is for the dog and the quicker they are made more comfortable.

Below is a list of the conditions more commonly associated with the Portuguese Water Dog.

Hip Dysplasia

A painful condition that commonly affects many breeds including the Portuguese Water Dog, hip dysplasia is caused by the hip joint not developing as it should. The condition rears its ugly head when dogs are still relatively young and it needs to be correctly diagnosed early so dogs are made more comfortable sooner rather than later.

Very often dogs with hip dysplasia are very lame and can suffer from arthritis which debilitates their movement. If you are worried that your dog may be suffering from the condition, you should make an appointment with the vet so they can carry out a thorough examination before recommending a treatment.


Distichiasis is a painful eye disorder where too many eyelashes grow around the eyelid. This is typically where two hairs grow out of one single follicle. The condition needs to be treated as soon as possible otherwise a dog's corneas many become ulcerated which might cause permanent damage to their eyes.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy – PRA, is another eye disorder where dogs gradually lose their vision. A vet would carry out certain tests and if a dog is found to be suffering from PRA would recommend they undergo an annual test to see how the condition is progressing. Sadly, there is no cure for PRA at the present time, but breeds which are predisposed to suffering from it can be tested and then taken out of any breeding programmes.


Cataracts are more often seen in older, senior dogs and it's a condition that causes their eyes to become cloudy. If the condition is severe, it can affect a dog's vision quite badly, but if the cataracts are only slight their sight would not be that impaired. Many breeds are predisposed to developing cataracts and it is an hereditary condition, however, dogs that have been diagnosed with diabetes may also suffer from them.


Several factors may cause a dog to have a seizure and sadly, they can happen quite suddenly for no apparent reason. Symptoms to look out for include the following:

  • Trembling
  • Dogs may become rigid
  • Staring into the distance yet not aware of their surroundings

A dog might also experience muscle spasms and in a worse case scenario they could even loose consciousness. Seizures can be very successfully managed with the right sort of medication, but because they are incurable a dog would need to be prescribed medication for the rest of their lives.

Juvenile Cardiomyopathy

Juvenile Cardiomyopathy is a complicated disorder very young Portuguese Water Dogs are predisposed to suffer from. Symptoms to watch out for include the following:

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Intermittent rapid heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Coma

All too often the condition may go unnoticed which could prove fatal which is why if you are at all concerned about your dog, you should take them along to the vet sooner rather than later.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Luckily, irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that is rarely seen in dogs. However, it has been reported in the Portuguese Water Dog. Nobody actually knows what causes the disorder, but it is thought to be diet and allergy related. Once the vet has made a correct diagnosis, they would normally recommend a dog be put on a specific diet and one that is very digestible containing a lot of fibre so food passes through the dog's system that much easier.


Alopecia is quite a common issue seen in dogs including the Portuguese Water Dog and it can affect their skin quite mildly or pretty severely. A vet would recommend treating the condition with specific shampoos while at the same time giving them antibiotics. There could be several reasons why a dog suffers from hair loss and a vet would need to find out the root cause in order to treat it effectively. It's important to make sure any exposed skin does not become infected and follow up visits to the vet are a must.


The Portuguese Water Dog has a lot to boast about in the looks department. They are loving and incredibly loyal dogs, but like so many other pure breeds, they are prone to develop certain hereditary health disorders as well as a few acquired conditions too. It's worth making a note of these health issues if you are thinking about sharing your home with one of these lovely looking dogs, but it's also worth remembering that not all Portuguese Water Dogs will suffer from any of the conditions listed above during the course of their lives.

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