The first thing that comes to mind when asked what Portuguese Water Dogs are like is that they are extremely intelligent - which is good and also challenging. It is easy to train a PWD and once they get it, they tire of repetition. The challenge occurs because they need mental stimulation. If you don't have a job or game for them, they will think up their own entertainment. They have a sense of humor and will laugh when they outwit you. PWDs keep you on your toes. I don't consider them hyper; rather they are busy. Always thinking...
Portuguese Water Dogs get along well with other dogs, but most choose human companionship over another dog. They are not afraid to look you in the eye. Not as a challenge, rather as a curious observer. They will shadow you around the house and lay on your feet when you sit down. They are happiest if they can be a big part of your life. PWDs have a big bark for a fluffy dog and will alert you to new arrivals. Within minutes, though, they are sitting in your guests' lap.
PWDs are agile and love watching life perched up high. They seem quite comfortable on an unsteady surface, which suits them well for a day on a boat. One of the favorite sports with PWDs is agility with all its ramps and jumps. Another trait for most PWDs is counter surfing. You will have to rethink what you leave on your counters when you live with a Portuguese Water Dog.
Portuguese Water Dogs love carrying things around. If the doorbell rings or they have gotten in trouble, they often run to get a toy as a peace offering. They often talk to you with that toy in their mouth. It's hard not to laugh at them and they know it. They have a tendency to grab hold of your clothes when excited. They also like to pinch you. These two tendencies can be controlled, but not totally eliminated.
Kids and dogs should always have adult supervision. It's important to let the children participate in supervised training of your PWD. Even toddlers can tell your dog to sit and give him a treat. They can also help walk the dog and put him in a crate. The smallest bit of "hands-on" is helpful in communicating your child's relationship to the dog. Children should be taught respect and gentleness with your dog. PWDs don't like to be pounced on and sat upon. They often get up and walk away.
Portuguese Water Dogs have a high maintenance coat. Ideally, they should be brushed several times a week and groomed once a month. This schedule helps discourage matting and keeps all the "stuff" out of their coat. The hair continues to grow if not trimmed. The shorter you keep their coat, the less work involved.
These dogs will never disappoint you. They are unlike any other breed of dog. Your life will never be the same after you own a Portuguese Water Dog.