19 Water Dogs – These Dog Breeds Love Water

4 August 2021

Some dogs love splashing in the water in summer, fetching and retrieving. Others would rather stay dry and on solid ground. Discover the who's who of water dogs with our guide.

water loving dog wearing Tractive running in lake in mountains

Not all dogs love aquatic adventure to the equal degree. Some will stay away from water, whether that means beach, pool, lake or river. Meanwhile, other dog breeds seem to be born to make a splash. Find out which dogs are 100% water dog breeds, and will gladly join you for wet-and-wonderful swim and play days all summer long. Oh, and speaking of summer – don’t forget to also check our best tips for keeping your dog cool.

What are water dogs?

Water dogs are dog breeds which have historically been bred to bring back water-bound game – for example, ducks and geese. Nowadays, the term can also refer to any dog breeds which are known to love water.

Why do dogs like the water?

Many dogs seem to love water… especially compared to their cat counterparts! But why do dogs love water? Here are some possible reasons:

  • Some dogs were literally bred to work in the water – such as the Irish Water Spaniel.
  • Dogs are more likely (than cats) to be first introduced to water in an enjoyable way, so they might have a positive association with it.
  • It’s a great way to keep cool and avoid heatstroke in dogs during hot weather.
  • Many dogs are playful, curious, and adventurous, and water can be a great source of fun.
  • Playing in the water together is a great way for dogs to bond with their favorite humans.
  • Getting wet is a great way to keep clean.
  • It simply feels good!

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19 Dog Breeds that Love Water

Without further ado, here are the top 19 dog breeds that love water:

American Water Spaniel

American Water Spaniel dog

This rare dog breed was bred in Wisconsin, and combines the traits of a Spaniel and Retriever. They are in their element in the wet marshes of the Great Lakes and are well-suited to working (or playing) in water.

Barbet

barbet dog running outside

The Barbet is a popular French water dog, uncommon in the United States. With the nickname ‘mud dog’, this furry friend isn’t afraid to get dirty. Historically, they’ve made great water hunting dogs and have a warm and outgoing nature.

Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel dog

A medium-sized Spaniel, the Boykin is an active and eager dog, easily trained and happy to hunt waterfowl or wild turkey. The breed is common in the American South.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog outside

It can get cold in the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. But this rugged Retriever is up for the challenge. Sporting an oily, water-proof coat, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are outdoorsy, active, and love to hunt in the water.

Curly-coated Retriever

Curly-Coated Retriever dog laying in grass

Intelligent and hard-working, the English Curly-coated Retriever is one of the oldest of the Retriever family. They’re brave enough to go head first into icy cold waters and are preferred by hunters.

English Setter

English Setter dog

English Setters are typically very comfortable in water and will go swimming just for fun. They can be enthusiastic and fearless in the water. They were bred as hunting dogs, but also make great family companion dogs. Just make sure they have plenty of space and opportunity to exercise and use up all their energy.

Flat-coated Retriever

flat coated retriever dog playing in water outside

The Flat-coated Retriever, as the name suggests, was bred to retrieve game both in the water and on land. This dog also comes from England. They are cheerful, eager to play and easy to train. They need a high level of physical activity and are natural hunters – a perfect companion for swimming adventures.

German Shepherd

german shepherd breed dog in water

Unlike many other dog breeds on this list, German Shepherds weren’t specifically bred to swim. They are great at a range of activities from herding, tracking, protection, aiding and helping, and military work. But since they are naturally athletic and courageous dogs, they are more likely to love water and become strong swimmers.

Golden Retriever

 golden retriever on the beach

When you think of dogs and water, it’s likely you’ll think of Golden Retrievers. Golden These beloved dogs are active, fun, and happy dogs who love to be near (and in) the water. They have water-repellent coats, and typically have no problem splashing into lakes and rivers.

Irish Water Spaniel

Irish water spaniel

Originally bred to be a water retriever, this relatively tall version of the Spaniel is a highly intelligent breed. Their distinctive, dense, curly-haired coat is water-repellent, which makes the Irish Water Spaniel perfect for swimming and water fun.

Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever dog in water

Though Labradors are among the most popular breeds for families today, they originated in Newfoundland as water dogs bred to help fishers pull in large nets of fish. With a thick, water-resistant coat, Labradors are great swimmers, and they love retrieving water toys or taking a dip on a hot day.

Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo dog

This ancient breed is thought to be the original water dog1. Today, the purebred Lagotto Romagnolo is an expert truffle hunter. But this move to land-based work doesn’t mean they’ve lost their ancient knack for swimming – which makes them an old-school water dog.

Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog swimming in water

This giant dog was born to swim, with a thick coat designed to keep them warm in chilly waters. Originally, this breed was bred to help fishers haul their nets, but this furry lifesaver now primarily helps with water rescues.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog outside

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are the smallest of the retriever family, and are intelligent and energetic. In the past, they helped hunters round up and retrieve waterfowl. Today, they make excellent swimming and playing companions.

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Otterhound

Otterhound dog

This adorable, rare breed from Great Britain has a rough, waterproof overcoat and oily undercoat, making them a perfect water dog. They were bred as otter-hunters and can cover great distances in the water. The Otterhound loves to play and swim in water and gets along well with children.

Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog sitting outside

This breed from the Algarve region of Portugal was originally bred to herd fish into nets. These dogs were also employed to retrieve broken nets and lost tackle. Needless to say, they’re great swimmers.

Fun fact: This breed also sent two representatives to the White House, with the Obama family’s pups Bo and Sunny.

Schipperke

Schipperke dog

Schipperke means “little captain” in Flemish2, as the dog breed used to be popular on barges. They’re also known as “canal boat dogs”. In other words, it’s no surprise this Belgian breed is at home in the water. Their energetic nature makes them an exciting (and stubborn) dog to enjoy the outdoors with.

Spanish Water Dog

Spanish water dog

This breed is both an excellent herding and water dog. They’re happiest when they have something to do, or a task to take care of. The Spanish Water Dog is sporty and loves to swim.

Standard Poodle

Standard Poodle standing on stones in river

Although you might see them more often on land in agility and obedience competitions, the Standard Poodle was originally a water retrieving breed and is actually an excellent swimmer.

And that’s it for our list of 19 dog breeds that love water!

Of course, just because a dog belongs to one of the breeds above doesn’t guarantee they’ll like water. And a dog from a not-so-water-loving breed may be a splashy rebel. What’s important is that we pay attention to our dogs’ abilities and preferences.

Dog Breeds that Don’t Like Water

Some dog breeds aren’t born for swimming and it’s better that they avoid going into deep water. These include top-heavy, short-nosed and short legged dog breeds, such as pugs, boxers, dachshunds and bulldogs. They may tire easily or have difficulty staying afloat. It’s also good to note that small dog breeds might not be able to tolerate cold water temperatures.

Read more: How cold is too cold for dogs?

Here are 11 dog breeds that don’t like the water:

  • Chihuahua
  • Pug
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • Boxer
  • Pekingese
  • Greyhound
  • Maltese
  • Pomeranian
  • Bichon Frise
  • Dachshund

Don’t make these mistakes when introducing your dog to the water

Not sure whether your dog loves the water or not? Be careful when introducing them to water, and try to avoid the following 5 mistakes that can lead to your dog getting afraid of water.

  • Don’t toss your dog into the water, expecting them to swim: It can traumatize a dog to suddenly find themselves thrown into a large body of water – imagine how you would feel if someone did it to you! More importantly, the impact could cause your dog to swallow a lot of water or cut off their breath, which could be life-threatening.
  • Don’t dunk your dog in the water: Us dog parents know each four-legged friend needs time to get used to new situations, and that each dog is unique. It should be easy to see, then, how a gentle, nice-and-easy approach to getting into water is the way to go.
  • Avoid cold water and powerful nozzles: Especially for dogs experiencing water for the first time, it’s important to use warmer water and to avoid high-powered hoses. When bathing your dog, always keep an eye on them; shivers could be the sign that the water is too cold.
  • Remember, your dog is very unlikely to love swimming in cold water or weather: Like us humans, the warmer the water, the more pleasant dogs find the experience. If you introduce them to water out in nature, weather will also play an important role. The best time of the year is generally spring or summer. Choose a nice day, but avoid taking your dog out for a swim when it’s sizzling outside: the high heat could cause your dog to suffer from heat strokes.
  • Keep in mind that your dog may not be a natural-born swimmer: There are some dog breeds which take to water right away – like Labradors and Newfoundlands – but many dogs don’t start off knowing how to swim well. Also, not every dog likes water. It could be that your four-legged friend will sink like a rock and you’ll have to jump in and save them. Some other dogs, on the other hand, will never learn to like the water – and that’s OK too.

The waterproof GPS tracker that helps keep your dog safe

If your dog loves the water, you can track their adventures in real-time with a 100% water-proof Tractive GPS tracker. That means you can let your water-loving dog enjoy swimming with peace of mind. Win, win.

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