Many dogs enjoy spending time in the water, but some breeds of dogs were developed specifically to hunt, help, and work in the water alongside people.
The top water dog breeds tend to have these features:
- strong and agile swimmers
- water-repellent coats to keep them warm while diving into frigid waters
- some breeds have webbed feet.
If you love spending time near the water and are considering adding a new dog to your family, a water-loving breed is the right fit for you. Keep in mind that each of these dog breeds is active and needs regular training, exercise and enrichment outside the water, too.
Here are the most skilled swimmers in the dog world:
One of the most popular dogs in the United States, the Labrador Retriever was first developed as a duck-hunting dog; they’d retrieve the birds after they were shot. Labs maintain a love of water to this day. Labradors have a short dense coat, a strong natural retrieving instinct and an attraction to water. These dogs are active, playful and naturally outgoing making them very popular family dogs.
This giant breed was developed specifically to work in frigid Canadian waters. Natural swimmers, Newfoundlands have partially webbed feet and were bred to pull in fishing nets from the frigid North Atlantic waters. These dogs have historically been used for water rescue. A full-grown Newfoundland dog can pull people and even boats from the water. This strong, large dog has a thick coat to keep him warm in frigid waters and maintains strong working instincts.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Bred as a duck dog to assist hunters, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog breed has an oily waterproof coat to glide through the water and keep him warm. The unique oily coat repels water in the same way duck feathers do. These dogs have webbed paws and can swim powerfully in cold waters, while maintaining a strong retrieving drive, which makes them popular hunting dogs.
Don’t let the fancy appearance of this breed fool you: The Standard Poodle is a born and bred water dog. Developed as a duck hunting dog in Germany, Standard Poodles were bred as strong swimmers. The fancy show Poodle haircut we see today was developed to reference the work these dogs were originally bred for: The hair poofs, or pom-poms, give these dogs full range of motion, but provide warmth and protection over their joints and organs.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
This small retriever is built to powerfully move through the water. Developed to look like foxes, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers were bred to get game birds into shooting range without arousing suspicion. Then, these agile retrievers go into the water and retrieve the birds. These dogs are strong swimmers, high-energy, known for their unique vocalizations sometimes called a “toller scream,” and thrive when they have a job to do.
How to introduce a dog to water:
Regardless if you have a dog who is bred to be in the water or a breed who takes to water less naturally, be slow and intentional about how you introduce your dog or puppy to water. Choose quiet water that isn’t too overwhelming, has minimal waves and a gentle slope. Here are more tips for teaching your dog to swim. Once he is comfortable in the water, you can spend time swimming together, or even get him involved in Dock Diving.