Most dogs love water, whether they are drinking it, splashing in puddles, running through sprinklers, or chasing waves back into the sea. Water is a great way to cool off in the heat of summer, but swimming is not for every dog breed. Some canines can barely survive in the water, either from respiratory difficulties, short legs, weak bodies, or a high sensitivity to cool temperatures. While that may be the case for breeds who are poor swimmers, other dogs have been bred for the express purpose of being an excellent and adept in the water.  If you are in the market to adopt a new dog, (LINK), and you are a beach-frequenting, water-sports enthusiast, or a hunter who needs a good retriever, consider some of the breeds below.

Best Dog Breeds for Swimming

  • Newfoundlands –Originally hailing from cold northern regions, this breed has webbed feet designed for paddling through rivers and oceans.  Insulated by thick coats, these dogs are able to stay warm in low temperatures, working fearlessly as both rescue dogs and hunting partners.
  • Poodles – The frou-frou reputation can be tossed aside, as Poodles rank in the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds. They also are perfectly equipped to handle long hours tromping through cold forests and streams in search of waterfowl.  The dense coats insulate their lithe limbs, making swimming fluid and less strenuous than it is for other dogs.
  • Labrador Retrievers – America’s favorite dog breed was a companion not only to hunters but also fishermen. These web-toed beauties would swim to the prey, and carry it softly in their mouths back to their master.
  • Golden Retrievers – Like the Labrador, Goldens live for an eventful romp in the waves, and are known for innumerable water rescue accounts. Their semi-water repellent coats help them dry off quickly, so they can get right back to playing fetch with the family.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs – These dogs are some of the most tireless swimming canines that exist. Content to play in the water all day, the hard working Portuguese Water Dog is also the breed of choice for America’s current President.  The Spanish Water Dog is also a close cousin that shares the same skills of hunting, herding and fishing.
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers – Patient and steady, this breed carries as many skills as the words in its name.  From retrieving, tolling and luring waterfowl, this hunter’s dream dog was trained to mimic the tactics that wild foxes would use to coax birds within their grasp.
  • Irish Water Spaniels – It is hard to believe this double-coated breed would enjoy wading through icy waters in Ireland.  However both Irish Water Spaniels (the largest of Spaniel breeds) and Irish Setters relish diving in for a good cause.
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers – No stranger to rough waters, these thick-coated canines were bred as waterfowl retrieving gun dogs. Believed to be related to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and the Newfoundland, these massive dogs are as comfortable in the water as they are out of it.
  • Schipperke – Almost as feisty and small as they brave and tenacious, the Schipperke of Belgium was known for being a regular passenger on river barges and boats. Known to some as “captain” or “LBD” (no, ladies, NOT “little black dress”) but rather “little black devil,” the speedy-legged patroller enjoys both sailing and swimming.
  • American Water Spaniel – The American Water Spaniel lives up to its name, in that the breed (first developed in the early 19th century) is a beautiful melting pot of many spaniel and retriever breeds, but they also enjoy spending lots of time in the water.  These pups also grow deeply attached to their master, and make loyal and devoted pets.