Most dogs like to play in the water – swimming, paddling, diving, and splashing are all part of the modern dog’s repertoire. However, some breeds don’t just like the water – they love it. Many dog breeds were specifically developed with water in mind, and have an inbuilt love for aquatic activities of all kinds.
If you live near a beach, lake, or river – or maybe you’re just a keen swimmer – you might want to choose a dog who shares your passion for open water. To help you find your perfect swimming buddy, we’ve put together a list of 10 dog breeds who just can’t get enough of the water.
The most popular breed in the US, UK, and Canada is also one of the strongest swimmers of the canine world. Labradors were originally bred to retrieve game when it fell in the water, and very well-suited they are.
Labradors have a thick, waterproof coat, which can protect them against very low temperatures. This coat features a lightly oiled surface, along with a thick undercoat for insulation. They also have very strong legs, helping them to negotiate strong currents, and keep on swimming for long stretches of time. Equipped with a strong jaw, Labs find it easy to bring sticks, balls, or toys back from the water to their owners on land.
Thanks to their friendly nature, thick coats, and impressive muscles, Labradors are one of the best swimming companions you could hope for.
As we mentioned in an earlier article, ‘25 Amazing Facts about Dogs’, the comical Poodle haircut actually has quite practical origins. Although they’re mainly bred as companion dogs today, Poodles have something of an aquatic background.
Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl in lakes and rivers, Poodles are very much built for swimming. In fact, the distinctive, ‘pampered poodle’ haircut was designed to make the dog more streamlined in the water. A Poodle’s thick coat helps them to stay warm in the water, while long, strong legs allow them to swim for long stretches without tiring.
Because they’re one of the most intelligent and easy to train breeds around, Poodles are a great companion for all your beach or lake adventures. Remember to bear in mind that they do require regular grooming to prevent painful mats, though.
Portuguese Water Dog
With this breed, the clue really is in the name. Portuguese Water Dogs were originally bred in, you guessed it, Portugal. Here, the dogs worked with local fishermen, to herd fish into the nets, and bring lost nets and tackle back to shore. This unique combination of herding and retrieving instincts make the Portuguese water a truly unusual breed.
These energetic dogs are well-suited to a life near the water. Their strong legs allow them to swim for long stretches of time, while their sharp minds are always up for stimulating games whether on the land or water. Their coats aren’t as thick as some other water-loving breeds, bred as they were to live in a hot, Mediterranean nation. Although this means they shed less, and are easier to groom, it does mean you’ll need to keep an eye on your pooch in colder climates.
Canada is a popular point of origin for water-loving dogs. Both Labrador retrievers and Newfoundlands can trace the roots back to the Great White North. Newfies are a strong and hardy breed, originally bred to help fishermen pull in their nets, and carry wood from the forest, they’ve also been known to help out on water rescue missions. Today, they retain their love of outdoor adventures – especially when water is involved.
The Newfoundland’s sturdy build helps them to swim for long stretches of time, while their thick and lustrous coat keeps the cold at bay. These sweet and loveable dogs are great family pets, as long as they have enough companionship. Known for their quiet dignity, Newfoundlands are a large and loyal breed, more than happy to join you on any aquatic adventures. These dogs do best in a non-humid climate and require plenty of space to roam because of their large size.
Irish Water Spaniel
As their name would imply, Irish Water Spaniels simply love to swim and play in the water. Originally bred as a sporting dog, these Spaniels would retrieve waterfowl and other game from marshy areas that were difficult for humans to navigate. Today, some Irish Water Spaniels carry on the gundog tradition, while others have migrated into companionship positions.
Their dark coat is made up of tight ringlets, and thick enough to protect them against the biting cold. Although every dog boasts an impressive nose compared to use humans, Irish Water Spaniels have a particularly advanced array, earning them a reputation as ‘detector dogs’.
Overall, these sociable and intelligent dogs are very strong swimmers, and more than happy to accompany their owner to the lake or beach.
Surprisingly enough, the diminutive Beagle is another strong swimmer. Although they’re better known for tracking and hunting on land, they naturally take to the water, and love a good swim. Energetic and excitable, Beagles are up for almost any adventure – involving water or otherwise. Despite their small stature, they have a lot of stamina, so it’s important that owners make time for regular exercise.
They might not be quite as strong in the water as a Labrador or Newfoundland, but Beagles exhibit an adventurous spirit that allows them to enjoy almost any terrain. With their short, smooth coats, Beagles can dry off in no time after a swimming adventure.
Because of their energetic temperament, the Beagle, while very friendly, can be challenging to train. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend a Beagle as your first dog.
Originating in France, the teddy-bear like Barbet is a rare water breed, developed to retrieve waterfowl and help sailors about their boats. These strong dogs require plenty of exercise, and thanks to their aquatic origins, swimming is the perfect fit.
The Barbet has a long, waterproof coat, which ranges in texture from wavy to curly, and black to white. Whatever the color and texture, though, this coat keeps the Barbet warm and cozy on their swimming adventures. Thanks to strong legs, and webbed feet, this breed can swim for long stretches without getting tired. Despite their large stature, Barbets are surprisingly nifty on their feet, and excel on the agility course in their native France and beyond.
With their high intelligence and loyalty, Barbets may be in for a come-back in the near future.
German Shorthaired Pointer
These lean pooches were originally bred as hunting dogs, and continue to be used as gundog to this day. Easy to train, energetic, and eager to work, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a great addition to the active family.
Their short, thick coat is water repellent, helping them to stay warm and dry after a swim. Thanks to their impressive stamina and sinewy build, they can keep on swimming for a long time, too. Intensely loyal and makes a great companion whether you’re a distance runner, hiker, or open water swimmer. Although they weren’t bred for water specifically, German Shorthaired Pointers are known for their love of the wet stuff, and swimming makes great exercise for such an energetic pooch.
Similar in appearance to a yellow Labrador, the Golden Retriever was also bred to retrieve game including waterfowl. For this reason, this breed is a strong swimmer to this day, and loves to dive into the water given half a chance. Originating in England in the 1800s, these friendly and affectionate dogs retain their popularity to this day.
wn for their dual layer coat, which allows them to stay warm, and keep water at bay. Although they’re a little smaller than a Labrador, Golden Retrievers are also very strong and energetic, which stands them in good stead when it comes to swimming. Friendly and laid back, Golden Retrievers are a family pet you can enjoy the lake or beach with at the weekend.
Last, but not least, comes the Cocker Spaniel. Although they’re primarily bred as companion dogs today, this feisty little breed were once a prized hunting dog. As a hunting companion, Spaniels were expected to retrieve prey from land and water alike, lending them an inbuilt love of the water, and strong swimming credentials.
Despite their boisterous nature, Spaniels are highly trainable. As long as they receive regular exercise, they can be a fun and friendly addition to any household. Bear in mind that the Cocker Spaniel’s lustrous coat comes with a hefty price tag, time-wise: daily brushing and regular trips to the groomer will be required to avoid trapped debris and painful matting.