Pet Insurance for Portugese Water Dogs

Find out all about Portuguese Water Dogs and their common health conditions, and then compare pet insurance options from some of Australia’s leading insurers.

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, updated on October 3rd, 2023       

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Price range

$3,000 –$4,000


43cm - 57cm


16kg - 25kg


Affectionate, intelligent, lively

Coat length

Curly, hypoallergenic

Exercise needs




Life expectancy

10 - 14 years

Portugese Water Dog


The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized, athletic dog that originated in Portugal. They are an ancient breed, with roots dating back to the 8th century. They were originally bred to work as fishing dogs, helping fishermen by herding fish into nets, retrieving lost fishing gear, and carrying messages between boats. They were also used in water rescue operations and to guard ships against pirates. However, in more recent times they became famous as President Obama’s ‘First Dog,’ a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo.  

Portuguese Water Dogs are typically between 43cm and 57cm tall at the shoulder. They have a double coat, with a soft, dense undercoat and a curly, water-resistant outer coat. They have webbed feet which helps them swim fast. They do not shed, so are considered hypoallergenic dogs. They can be black, brown, white, or a combination of these colours. 

Portuguese Water Dogs are intelligent and highly trainable dogs. They are eager to please their owners, which makes them easy to teach, and they can be trained for a variety of tasks, including retrieval, obedience, agility, and water sports. As Portuguese Water Dogs are excellent swimmers and divers, they are often used in water rescue operations, as they are one of the few breeds that will actually dive underwater to retrieve objects. They are affectionate and loyal dogs, making great companion and service dogs. They are still used as working dogs in many parts of the world. They are good with children and other pets. 

Common diseases and conditions of Portuguese Water Dogs

  • Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a developmental condition that affects the hip joints. It can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis. 
  • Elbow dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is another similar condition that affects the elbow joints. It can cause lameness and arthritis. 
  • Patellar luxation: Patellar luxation is a condition in which the kneecap (patella) dislocates from its normal groove.  
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are a clouding of the eye lens that can lead to blindness. 
  • Von Willebrand's disease: Von Willebrand's disease is a blood clotting disorder that can cause excessive bleeding. 

Breed-specific issues:  

Their love for water means Portuguese Water Dogs love swimming and water sports, so if you have a backyard pool you may not be able to keep them out of it! They should always be rinsed in fresh water after a swim in chlorinated water to prevent water sanitation chemicals from irritating their eyes.  

How much does pet insurance cost for a Portuguese Water Dog

Most Australians can expect to pay between $20 and $60 a month for pet insurance. There are many factors that can influence the cost of pet insurance for your dog, which is why it's important to compare pet insurance policies. Factors affecting the cost of your insurance include: 

  • Age: The older your dog is, the more pet insurance is likely to cost. This is because senior dogs tend to have more physical health conditions and illnesses due to age, and so present a higher insurance risk.    
  • Type of insurance you choose:  There are three basic types of pet insurance available in Australia; accident-only, accident and illness, and comprehensive insurance. An accident-only policy is the cheapest type of insurance available, with comprehensive coverage costing the most.  
  • The policy annual limit: Each pet insurance policy has an annual limit, which is the maximum amount that will be paid out on the policy in one financial year. Annual limits range from around $10,000 up to $25,000 or more.   
  • Sub-limits: In addition to an annual limit, there may also be sub-limits that apply to the policy, for example, a $300 sub-limit for consultation fees, or a $5,000 limit for cruciate ligament conditions.   
  • Benefit percentage: Pet insurance does not cover 100% of the cost of your vet bill. Instead, it may pay a percentage of the total bill. This can range from 50% for cheaper policies, up to 90% for the best policies available.   
  • Excess amount: This is the amount you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket each time you make a claim on your policy. Some pet insurance policies do not come with an excess amount, whilst others do.  
  • Any add-ons you choose: It’s possible to add on more cover options to a basic policy, such as emergency boarding fees, routine care and dental care. These add-ons extend the scope of your pet insurance, but do increase the overall cost of the policy.  
  • Discounts: some insurers offer discounts of between 5% and 15% if you have multiple pets insured together, if you pay your premium annually, or if you bundle your pet insurance with other forms of insurance with the same company.
  • Gap-only insurance options: Some insurance companies offer a gap-only insurance option, which means when you go to the vet you'll only be required to pay the gap amount, not the cost of the whole bill. This is similar to the Medicare system of health insurance for humans in Australia, where gap payments can be made at HICAPS terminals at the time of treatment. 

Types of pet insurance you can choose from

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Common questions about Portuguese Water Dogs

What is the vocal range of Portuguese Water Dogs and what sounds do they make?

Portuguese Water Dogs have a wide vocal range and can make a variety of unusual sounds. They are known for their unique sound, a blend between a bark and a howl, which is sometimes described as similar to a yodel. They also have an audible laugh, sometimes called ‘expressive panting.’ They may also make a unique sound called a ‘woof-woo’ which they use as a greeting to their owners. They are not known for being excessive barkers, and are more likely to bark to alert their owners to something, to communicate a message or express excitement. 

Do Portuguese Water Dogs like playing with toys?

Yes, they are a breed that develops strong affection for their toys and likes to carry them around and sleep with their toys in bed. They need to be provided with ‘special’ toys that they can carry around and sleep next to for comfort. If no toys are provided, you may find your own socks, shoes, underwear, clothes or other possessions in their beds being jealously guarded! 

How do Portuguese Water Dogs get on with other pets?

Portuguese Water Dogs can get along very well with other dogs, but it is important to socialise them from a young age. They may be territorial of their home and backyard, so it is important to introduce them to new pets in a neutral environment. Portuguese Water Dogs may also have a high prey drive, so it is important to supervise their interactions with smaller animals including cats. 

How much exercise do Portuguese Water Dogs need?

Portuguese Water Dogs are active dogs and need regular exercise. A daily walk or playtime session of at least 60 minutes a day is typically sufficient for most Portuguese Water Dogs. Their exercise routine should include plenty of opportunities to swim, which they love doing.  

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Portugese Water Dog

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