19 Water Dogs: These Dog Breeds Love Water

30 July 2021

Not all dogs are made equal; some will love splashing around in the water in summer, fetching and retrieving things, whereas other dogs would rather stay on land. Discover the who's who of water dogs in this post!

water loving dog wearing Tractive running in lake in mountains

Not all dogs are the same when it comes to water. Some will shy away from the water, whether that be at the beach, pool or river. And other dog breeds seem to be absolutely born for the water! So if you’re looking for a water loving dog that will play (and swim) by your side all summer, you may want to consider the following water dog breeds. And don’t forget to check out the best tips for keeping your dog cool while you’re here on the Tractive blog!

What are water dogs?

Water dogs are those dog breeds which have historically been bred to retrieve game from water. 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 in comparison to their feline 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 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 demeanor.

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. Built with an oily and waterproof 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 hardworking, the English Curly-Coated Retriever is one of the oldest Retriever dog breeds. 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 to swim. 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 expend their high 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 dog to go swimming for days with.

German Shepherd

german shepherd breed dog in water

Unlike the other dog breeds, German Shepherds weren’t bred specifically for swimming. They were bred to like a range of activities from herding, tracking, protection, aiding and helping, and military work. But since they are naturally athletic and courageous dogs they certainly have the capability to like water and become strong swimmers.

Golden Retriever

 golden retriever on the beach

When you think of dogs and water, the Golden Retriever almost always comes to mind. Golden Retrievers are active, fun, and happy dogs who love to be near (and in) the water. They have water repellent coats, and typically have no problems jumping 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. The 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 fishermen 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

An ancient breed, thought to be the original water dog1, today, the purebred Lagotto Romagnolo is an expert truffle hunter. Although their swimming skills are still intact; they were originally bred to hunt in the water.


Newfoundland dog swimming in water

This giant dog was just born to swim with a thick coat designed to keep him warm against chilly waters. Originally, this breed was bred to help fishermen haul their nets, but is now primarily used for water rescues.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog outside

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are the smallest of the retrievers, intelligent and energetic. Historically they’ve helped hunters to roundup and retrieve waterfowl. Today they make excellent swimming and playing companions.

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Otterhound dog

This adorable, rare breed from Great Britain has a rough, waterproof overcoat and oily undercoat, making them the 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. Very good swimmers, this dog breed loves water!


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”, so this Belgian breed is no stranger to the water. Their high prey drive and 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’re hunting or otherwise have a job to do. 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.

There you have it: 19 dog breeds that love water. Of course, just because a dog is one of the breeds above doesn’t guarantee they will like water. And vise versa: a dog whose breed typically does not enjoy water may actually defy breed stereotypes and have a water-loving personality! What’s important is that we pay attention to our dog’s unique 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 stay afloat. Moreover, 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? Then introduce them to the water in a very careful way and try to avoid the following 5 mistakes. Making them could end up traumatizing your dog in a very bad way!

  • Don’t toss your dog into the water, expecting them to swim: It can traumatize a dog in a very bad way, if you just toss him into a large body full of water. The impact could also cause the dog to inhale the water or cut his breath. As you expect it, this could be life-threatening for your four-legged friend.
  • Don’t dunk your dog in the water: All responsible dog owners know that every four-legged friend needs time to get used to new situations. This varies from dog to dog. That’s also the reason why you shouldn’t just throw your darling into the water. In any case, a gentle approach would be more appropriate. Life-threatening situations can quickly arise.
  • Avoid cold water and powerful nozzles: Especially for dogs having their first water experiences, it is important to use warmer water and to avoid high-powered nozzles. Not every dog is crazy for hose water, so avoid bathing your four-legged companion with a high powered hose or cold hose water. When bathing your dog, always keep an eye on him: shivers could be the sign that the water you’ve used was too cold!
  • Never expect that your dog loves to swim in cold water or weather: If you want to introduce your dog to the water, you should carefully think about the water’s temperature. If you introduce him to an external source of water, the weather will also play an important role. The best seasons of the year are generally springs and summers. Choose a good weather day, but avoid taking the dog out for a bath when it’s 40 degrees outside: the hot weather could cause your dog to suffer from heat strokes.
  • Never expect that your dog is a born swimmer: Of course there are some dog breeds which are natural born swimmers like Labradors and Newfoundlands, but not every dog can swim well from the beginning. Also, not every dog likes the water. It could be that your four-legged friend will sink like a rock and you will have to be prepared to jump into the water and catch him. Some other dogs, on the other hand, will never learn to like the water.

The Waterproof GPS Tracker that Helps Keep Your Dog Safe

If your dog loves the water, you can still track their adventures worry-free! Tractive GPS, the dog tracker that allows you to check on your dog’s location in real-time, is also 100% waterproof. What’s better than a day spent splashing around in total safety? Dog breeds that love the water will love their freedom, and you’ll love the peace of mind it provides!

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