Dogs made for swimming

Dogs made for swimming

While some dogs actively avoid the water and others still are inherently bad at or incapable of swimming, there are several breeds of dog that are just made for being in the water! These are the breeds that have a long history of either living near to water and swimming confidently, or those that were actively bred and trained to work in and around the water, assisting people in all manner of working roles throughout history.

While having a dog that likes to swim a lot can make for some fairly messy clean ups, if you like the idea of a swimming dog, an intend to provide for them to go swimming in suitable areas, you might wish to consider one of the many dog breeds that love the water and are totally confident swimmers. Read on for our picks of some of the best swimming dog breeds.

The Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, and as well as being keen and confident swimmers, they are highly intelligent, very friendly, and make excellent pets.

The Labrador Retriever’s working history goes back to the days when they were known as the St. John’s Water Dog, where they were used as retrieving dogs in the Labrador Sea. Even prior to this, the breed had English origins as a working and game retrieving dog.

Usage and breeding over time led to a dog that worked closely alongside of shooting parties, retrieving downed game birds to bring back to their handlers. This involved both retrieving land birds, and water fowl such as ducks. The Labrador Retriever will usually leap into a pond or lake in any season with great gusto, particularly if encouraged or sent into retrieve something!

The Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is another breed that was specifically bred to retrieve game birds, particularly water fowl. Like the Labrador, they are kind, confident, friendly and great all rounders, being another very popular family pet. The Golden Retriever is a confident and willing swimmer, and does not need much encouragement to leap into the water for a game or if they have spotted something interesting in the water!

If you are lucky enough to live near to a safe lake or pond, your Golden Retriever will get hours of entertainment during the warmer months splashing about and bringing back balls or sticks from the pool.

The Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest breeds of spaniel-type dogs, and has a coat much more similar to that of the Poodle than that of most other spaniels! Their coats are densely curled and very thick, offering the dog an extra layer of insulation when swimming in cold water, and making their coats somewhat water repellent.

The Irish Water Spaniel is one of Ireland’s native breeds, with a history going back well over 1,000 years. Like the retriever dog breeds, the Irish Water Spaniel was bred as a hunting and retrieving dog, and developed their competence for swimming and affinity for the water while working in the boggy, marshy and waterlogged plains of Ireland.

The Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog originally hails from the Algarve area of Portugal, but can now be widely seen all across the country and in other parts of the world. This dog really is the ultimate swimming breed, being used to sea swimming and swimming in cold, challenging costal waters. The Portuguese Water Dog was bred and developed to work closely with Portugal’s sea fishermen, and would live with them on their boats and ships when working at sea. When a viable shoal of fish was found, the fishermen would lay out their nets, and send the Portuguese Water Dog out into the sea to herd the fish into their nets!

The Portuguese Water Dog is a great pick of pet for people who live near the coast, and these dogs love swimming and splashing about in the sea.

The Newfoundland Dog

The Newfoundland Dog has one particular and very distinctive trait that gives away their superior ability as swimmers; they have webbed feet, to help them to hold their own in the water! These large, heavy dogs are slow moving and rather lumbering on land, but in the water, they really come into their own.

They are incredibly calm, intelligent and loyal dogs, and make excellent family pets as well as being competent swimmers. Their coats are water resistant with an oily texture, and their large size and heavy muscle mass gave them the strength that they needed to hold their own in tidal waters.

Founded in Newfoundland, as the name suggests, the Newfoundland Dog is another dog that was used to work at sea with fishermen. It is also worth noting that the Newfoundland breed has been noted for the rescue and recovery from the sea of people in distress on several occasions throughout their history; a skill that they was never trained to perform, making them one of the heroes of the canine world as well as one of its best swimmers!



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services

Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale