Most people know that Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are great at swimming, but that's likely because these are some of the most popular breeds we often see near lakes and swimming pools. In truth, they aren’t the only ones, so we've compiled a list of 20 best swimming dogs that could enter the Olympics in swimming.
If you're an active person that loves outdoors or live by the lake or beach, adopting a canine companion who's not afraid of water is likely a good idea. It's true that majority of dogs can figure out how to swim if they end up in a water, but the fact is that not all of them are actually good swimmers. So here are the 20 best swimming dogs that are likely to fit your lifestyle perfectly, and keep you company near the water without you having to worry about your dog drowning.
Top 20 Best Swimming Dogs
1. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
It's only fair to start the best swimming dogs list here. With the word “bay” and the word “retriever” in the name, you know that the dogs in this breed have to love water. Any owner of Chesapeake Bay Retriever expected for them to be included in this list of best swimming dogs because they know how excited these pets are about going to visits lakes and beaches.
Pros – A quintessential hunting dog, the “Chessie” can track and retrieve. They love the water and have a water-proof coat made just for that purpose.
Cons – Stubborn and tenacious, an owner of this breed has to have the time and knowledge to train this dog right, or it will do its own thing. They are also not fond of strangers. To avoid aggressiveness, this canine needs frequent socialization.
Another less known dog breed in adoption centers, Barbet will be on any list of best swimming dogs for a good reason. Also known as the French Water Dog, the Barbet is a “no shed” breed that loves water and swimming above all things. If you have a dog pool, you will definitely find your Barbet there throughout most of the day.
Pros – Social and friendly, this breed is great for families, dog parks, and family reunions. Not only do they love water, but they are agile and do great on obstacle courses.
Cons – These puffballs have quite a lot of grooming needs. They need to be brushed, then bathed, then blown dry. Also, their nails grow fast and need frequent clipping.
These smaller sized hound dogs can sniff out the trail and will climb, slide, and even swim anywhere to find their prey. Beagles are known for their many interests, whether it's hunting, running, playing or swimming. Owners of this pooch already know that Beagles take to the water naturally and are decent swimmers.
Pros – Beagles are a dog’s dog. They love to chase scents, dig, swim, bark, and howl. They are happiest on a farm or somewhere they can just be a dog. Friendly and outgoing, they never meet a dog, kid, or stranger that they don’t like.
Cons – If you don’t have time for daily exercise and mental stimulation, this isn’t the breed for you. They are energetic and need lots of play times and chew toys.
4. American Water Spaniel
Originally bred and developed in the river valleys of Wisconsin, AWS was first recognized in the early 1900s. American Water Spaniel is one of the most rare dog breeds we have today, and the breed has been swimming since its conception. This State Dog of Wisconsin is found mainly in the Great Lakes Region.
Pros – Energetic and eager to please, these pups are great for active families. Hunting, hiking, and camping are suitable activities for this breed.
Cons – Not made for apartments and small yards, the American Water Spaniel needs room to run. While they are great in human families, they usually don’t like other dogs or strangers.
5. Boykin Spaniel
Originally bred in South Carolina, Boykin Spaniel breed’s foundation stock started with a stray dog, according to the club's history page. With spaniel and retriever in the foundation stock, this breed can’t help but love to swim and they're one of the best swimming dogs you can adopt right now.
Pros – An all-around bird dog, the Boykin Spaniel is happy running the terrain and swimming the bayou. They are sweet natured toward children and make great family dogs.
Cons – This pup needs brushing several times a week to stay clean and mat free. If you aren’t an outdoors person, this is not the breed for you.
6. Cocker Spaniel
Although the Cocker Spaniel is prized as a companion dog these days, it still retains all its hunting dog characteristics, including a love of the water and being one of the most prized and respected hunting dogs out there. They're decent swimmers and enjoy spending time by the water any time you offer the opportunity.
Pros – These healthy dogs can still be used as a hunting dog. They are easily trainable and can live as a companion dog in an apartment as long as they are exercised regularly.
Cons – The grooming needs of this four-legged friend are pretty heavy. The popularity of this breed led to unsafe breeding practices. This, in turn, has led to nervous, aggressive, and shy animals. Make sure your new puppy comes from a legitimate dog breeder.
7. Curly-coated Retriever
Similar in appearance to another curly dog called the “Chessie”, this breed is not the one you often see on urban streets. Curly-coated Retriever, often abbreviated as “CCR,” is a great hunting dog that has made its way into competitions and backyards (with pools), too.
Pros – These canines have an unusual coat that is still easy to care for. Their coat is waterproof and they can easily shake off the wet after a nice swim.
Cons – Dogs in this breed become bored easily. A bored dog becomes loud and destructive. The Curly Coated Retriever does best in active families.
8. Drentsche Patrijshond
The “Dutch Partridge Dog” is commonly known as the “Drent”. A spaniel-type hunting gun dog, Drentsche Patrijshond (or Drentse Patrijshond) canines love to get wet and are some of the best swimming dogs out there. First recognized back in 1943, the breed has been a common ally to hunters to this day.
Pros – Loyal and sensitive, the Drentsche Patrijshond is easy to train. An all-around farm dog, this four-legged friend isn’t just for hunting. They can keep the area clear of vermin while still being a great family dog.
Cons – Reserved and wary, members of this breed need to be trained and socialized to avoid being overly aggressive with people they do not know. These are active dogs. They are not for apartments and small yards.
9. English Setter
Mostly known as a gun dog, this dog has many skills, including swimming and acute sense of smell. As foundation stock for many other breeds, the English Setter has long been prized for its ability in the water as well as on land, and no list of best swimming dogs can go without this popular gun dog breed.
Pros – This canine is friendly and agreeable with everyone and everything it meets. It is a multi-purpose dog that can set, point, retrieve, and compete.
Cons – Sensitive and somewhat needy, these dogs do not like to be left alone. They want to be involved in family life at all times.
10. Irish Setter
Instantly recognizable thanks to popular dog food commercials and TV ads, the Irish Setter is one of the most beautiful dog breeds out there due to its luxurious red coat. But don’t worry, this dog still makes a great swimming partner and enjoys spending time in water. An Irish Setter will not be worried about getting that beautiful hair wet.
Pros – This dog is a great family dog. You also can’t go wrong with bringing this pooch to cookouts and campgrounds. It is happy and friendly with anyone at any time.
Cons – Sensitive and social, dogs in this breed can develop separation anxiety. They are quite active and need a lot of daily exercises to avoid being destructive.
11. Irish Water Spaniel
Like other candidates on this best swimming dogs list, the Irish Water Spaniel is another one expected to be included. It has a curly water-resistant coat, but its coat is also long. One of the oldest spaniels in existence, this grandfather breed loves the water and wouldn’t be happy without regular swims in pools or lakes.
Pros – Independent and rugged, these pups do well with some time alone. They can also withstand many different temperatures and conditions. Their webbed feet are a great characteristic for swimming.
Cons – These outdoor pets need room to run and be free. They don’t do well always being under someone’s thumb. They are prone to several genetic illnesses. Make sure your new puppy comes from a reputable breeder.
12. Lagotto Romagnolo
If you are beginning to see the trend of curly coats on canines who love water among all of these best swimming dogs candidates, then this one will not disappoint. The Lagotto Romagnolo is another rare breed that loves to swim and has a coat of dense curls.
Pros – Not a hunting dog, this breed is nevertheless a sporty, rugged one. Made to scour the Italian countryside for truffles, these pets are great for the outdoorsy family.
Cons – This independent, reserved canine needs to be well socialized at an early age to make a good companion dog. They don’t demand a lot from their owners but can become aggressive if left to their own defenses.
13. Newfoundland Dog
While you may not think of this giant dog (often weighing over a hundred pounds) as a good swimmer, they actually are! The Newfoundland dog breed was originally created to help fisherman with their nets and also perform water rescues. Today, that's what they're most well-known for.
Pros – This four-legged family member is protective but still friendly. When around children, they are very observant and will usually aid their family in any way possible.
Cons – At 100-150 pounds, these canines are not cheap to keep. They need room to fully stretch out a few times a day. If you don’t have safe access to water, then consider getting another breed. These animals would not be happy without a regular swim.
14. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Originally known as Little River Duck Dogs, this bird dog can’t get enough of water. If you are a regular swimmer and need a friend who will love the water as much as you do, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is one of the companions on this best swimming dogs list you should first look at.
Pros – The word tolling means to entice. These canines not only entice their prey but also the family they live with. These energetic dogs are friendly. They also have an easy to care for coat.
Cons – Like many breeds on this list, these dogs are rugged and energetic. They need an active family and plenty of time outdoors.
Another one of the rarest breeds in the world, the Otterhound is still prized by many people for its skills and abilities. They are a very active dog breed and enjoy many outdoor activities, including swimming. They're somewhat prone to joint issues, so if you have a pool or go boating, make sure to provide them with a water ramp for easy access.
Pros – These boisterous canines are entertaining and hearty. Full of spunk and love, they make a wonderful addition to the active family.
Cons – With a coat that is long and shaggy, this pup needs quite a bit of grooming. While intelligent, these dogs are independent and stubborn. They need more than a weekend trainer.
16. Portuguese Water Dog
The traditional cut of this dog’s fur is to make sure it has bouncy to keep its head above water. It's not a surprise to see Portuguese Water Dog on this list of best swimming dogs because they literally lived in the water. Back in the day, their jobs included swimming messages to other boats and the shore, fetching nets and lost tackle, and wrangling fish.
Pros – If you want a dog that is excellent in swimming in large bodies of water, this one is perfect for you. They have webbed feet and were designed for the frigid waters of the Atlantic.
Cons – There long curly hair will need to be brushed almost daily or clipped short. The Portuguese Water Dog is an active animal and must have more than just a short game of fetch.
Also known as the “Little Black Devil”, the Schipperke is a very interesting breed. Not created to be a hunting dog, they still love to swim and enjoy being around water. These little dynamites were originally bred to be ratters and watchdogs, and they can still fill those shoes making them a good guard dog as well.
Pros – Friendly and playful with family, this portable pup is always up for going somewhere new or chasing a few birds. Alert, curious, and lively, they are entertaining to own.
Cons – Like other ratters, the Schipperke needs to be well socialized to get along with other animals and strangers. While intelligent, they are independent and need a strong trainer.
18. Spanish Water Dog
Another fishing assistant dog from the early 1900s, the Spanish Water Dog also did double duty as a herding dog. Just like the above pick, SWD also make great guard dogs when they aren’t focused on swimming and enjoying themselves in the water.
Pros – This is a healthy breed. Energetic with high stamina, this is the great pet for a runner or daily swimmer. Smart and intuitive, this pup thrives on mental exercise as well as physical.
Cons – There is a specific way that this breed has its hair corded. You will need to learn from someone the correct way to groom them. This dog is active and work-oriented. It is not for first-time, inexperienced dog owners.
19. Standard Poodle
While some people think the traditional haircut of the Poodle makes it look weird and prissy, it actually helps it while it does its favorite task – swimming. Maybe surprising to some, it's likely not odd for owners of Poodles to see their pet included among the best swimming dogs, as they deservedly earn this spot.
Pros – These intelligent, adaptive dogs are great for apartment life or country life. They are affectionate and make great family dogs, therapy animals, or bird dogs.
Cons – While you don’t have to keep this canines hair long, it will still need frequent grooming to keep it clipped short. These dainty animals can really pack on the pounds. Carefully measure food and snacks to avoid over-eating.
Go to any dog park that has water around, and you're likely to see Vizsla running in and out of water. Every owner knows that the sleek Vizsla simply loves swimming; however, unlike a lot of other canines on this best swimming dogs list, this breed is not built for the cold. A dip in the cold waters of the oceans is not what this pup has in mind.
Pros – With low shedding and short hair, this is a great pooch for people who don’t have a lot of time to clean up after a dog. This canine is loving and affectionate with everyone it meets.
Cons – The Vizsla is prone to separation anxiety and loneliness. It can become destructive and loud if left alone too often. Active and energetic, this pup doesn’t do well in a sedentary lifestyle.
If you love days spent on the beach, picnics at the lake, or Saturdays around the pool, then one of these best swimming dogs are sure to be perfect for your lifestyle. Just remember, water can be dangerous for dogs and there are many risks of water intoxication in dogs if pet owners aren't vigilant. Always follow sensible safety rules around the water, whether going boating or simply being near water and knowing your swim-loving breed is likely to get into trouble (spoiler: get him a life jacket).
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