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Which Dog Breeds Swim the Best?

Few things make walking your dog more of a fun adventure than stopping by a lake where the dog can go for a swim. Many dogs love the water and like nothing better than to take a dip.

Some breeds are great swimmers, while others can only muster the classic dog-paddle in short bursts and need to be watched closely when they’re in the water. It’s tough to say which are the best swimmers, but the elite tend to have oily, water-resistant double coats. They also have webbing between their toes and high lung capacities for their size.

Here are five breeds that aquatically excel:

Newfoundland. When Meriwether Lewis was preparing to head off on the two-year jaunt to the Pacific Ocean, he chose a Newfie to accompany him. Frequently used for water rescue, the Newfoundland has the requisite webbed feet, oily double coat, large lungs and physical stamina. Newfies love the water and are powerful swimmers.

Portuguese Water Dog. All the “water” breeds, including Irish and American Water Spaniels are great swimmers, but when experts are pushed to choose the best, the Portuguese usually gets the nod. Bred as a working dog for fisherman, it’s at home around water and is quick to take a dive.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Your Chessie is all about making a splash. Most Retriever breeds (particularly Goldens and Labs) are excellent swimmers, their oily, water-resistant coats helping them knife through the water. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was bred for hunting waterfowl, and is known to be comfortable even underwater, where they’ll eagerly retrieve whatever you thrown in.

Schipperke. Long-legged dogs tend to make the best swimmers, but the compact Schipperke defies the norm. Once known as “Belgian barge dogs,” this breed is smart, energetic and almost hyper-alert. Its thick coat keeps it warm even in cold water, and it swims a mean stroke.

Standard Poodle. Another breed you wouldn’t think of as a great swimmer, but Standard Poodles move through water with ease. Their long legs churn through the waves, and they clearly enjoy being in water.

Of course, there are exceptions within every breed, but if you own one of these dogs, give them—and yourself—a special treat and go for a swim. If you’re on a boat with your dog, however, keep an eye on it and consider getting a doggie life jacket. Even a dog that swims well can get tired after too long in the water, especially older ones.

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Which Dog Breeds Swim the Best?

Photo courtesy of PhoDographer.


  1. Boxer Pointer

    My family are a big fan of going down to the beach to chill, lying on the stons, taking a dip, running along the wet sand or weaving in and out of the rock pools. But Lila, (check out her page!) hates it! She’s a puppy so nothing bad could of happened in her childhood to make her hate water. She totally freaks out at the slightest DROP of water. :( help!

    ~ poppy P owner of Lila

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