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Home > Dogs > 15 Best Dog Breeds for Swimming & Water Activities (with Pictures)

15 Best Dog Breeds for Swimming & Water Activities (with Pictures)

black labrador running on water

Do you live near the beach, a lake, or a river? Perhaps you long for a canine companion who is as active and adventurous as you are—a dog that you can share games and water activities with, who will relish the chance to take a swim?

Then look no further than our list of 15 dog breeds that love water and swimming! We’ve collected some basic history, personality, and size information on each breed so that you’re sure to find the perfect swimming buddy.

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The 15 Dog Breeds That Love Swimming

1. Barbet

Barbet dog
Image By: Ysbrand Cosijn, Shutterstock
Weight: 35–65 pounds
Height: 19–25 inches
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Breed group: Sporting

Though you do not often find them in the United States, the Barbet has been a popular water dog in France since the early 16th century. Agile and athletic, they were mainly used to flush and retrieve waterfowl.

Barbets are incredibly social and have a cheerful and sweet temperament. With proper exercise and socialization, they can make wonderful companions, as well as sporting dogs.

2. Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel sitting on leaves
Image Credit: Zadranka, Shutterstock
Weight: 25–40 pounds
Height: 14–18 inches
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Breed group: Sporting

Developed in South Carolina to hunt waterfowl in the lakes and swamps, the web-toed Boykins are both athletic and enthusiastic in the water. These dogs are determined in the field and sweet family dogs at home.

They are known for their rich, chocolate brown coats and merry, highly-trainable natures.

3. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake bay retriever_Radomir Rezny_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Height: 21–26 inches
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Breed group: Sporting

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are powerful, rugged gundogs that are tireless hunters of ducks and other waterfowl. They love water, and their wavy coats even have a natural, oily waterproofing!

Independent, affectionate, and bright Chesapeake Bay Retrievers make great watchdogs. They thrive with active families and have a sensitive nature.

4. Curly-Coated Retriever

Black Curly-Coated Retriever
Image By: nika174, Shutterstock
Weight: 60–95 pounds
Height: 23–27 inches
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Breed group: Sporting

Originally developed in England, the Curly-Coated Retriever is one of the oldest of the retriever breeds. Their tight curls are waterproof and resistant to thorns, making them an all-weather kind of adventurer!

This breed is well known for their wicked intelligence and can be quite playful and mischievous with their family. They need lots of outdoor exercise, but their affectionate and calm nature can make for a wonderful family companion.

5. English Setter

Llewellin English Setter
Image Credit: Ginger Livingston Sanders, Shutterstock
Weight: 45–80 pounds
Height: 23–27 inches
Lifespan: 12 years
Breed group: Sporting

English Setters can be dated back as far as 400–500 years and were developed in England as bird hunters that did not retrieve but “pointed” at the game. With a little encouragement, English Setter’s favorite things to do are swim and spend time with their family.

Often called the gentleman of the canine world, these dogs are polite and elegant but also boisterously playful. They generally get along extremely well with people and other dogs.

6. Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retriever
Image Credit: H. B., Pixabay
Weight: 60–70 pounds
Height: 22–25 inches
Lifespan: 8–10 years
Breed group: Sporting

First bred in the 1800s, the Flat-Coated Retriever was mainly used to bring downed waterfowl back to their hunter. Their lustrous coats protect them from cold waters and harsh weather. They love working closely with their owners, swimming, and—of course—fetching.

Energetic, water-loving, and upbeat, Flat-Coated Retrievers are wonderful family companions. They require lots of outdoor exercise, or their youthful energy could turn to rascally mischief.

7. Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel standing on grass
Image Credit: Julie Morrish, Shutterstock
Weight: 45–68 pounds
Height: 21–24 inches
Lifespan: 12–13 years
Breed group: Sporting

The Irish Water Spaniel was developed in England and Ireland in the 1800s, and excelled at hunting waterfowl in their curly, water-repellent coats. They are champion swimmers, and while brave and determined in the field, they are incredibly affectionate at home.

These hardworking dogs are also endearing companions that love to entertain their family. Irish Water Spaniels do well with multiple, extended opportunities throughout the day to exercise outdoors.

8. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
Image Credit: scott244, Pixabay
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Height: 20–25 inches
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Breed group: Sporting

Labrador Retrievers are one of America’s most popular breeds but were originally bred to retrieve ducks in Newfoundland. They are strong swimmers and are ideal for both sports hunters and families.

These active, outgoing dogs are well known as some of the friendliest in all the canine world! However, their easygoing nature does not translate to low energy; Labrador Retrievers require lots of outdoor exercise, games with family, and swimming to stay mentally and physically fit.

9. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo standing on grass
Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock
Weight: 24–35 pounds
Height: 16–19 inches
Lifespan: 15–17 years
Breed group: Sporting

Thought to be the breed from which all waterdogs descend, the Lagotto Romagnolo goes back at least as far as Renaissance Italy. They were used as waterfowl retrievers and later trained to find truffles with their sensitive noses.

With their lavish, teddy bear-like fur you might not immediately peg this breed as rugged workers. Lagotto Romagnolos are prized for their strength and endurance, as well as their affectionate, eager-to-please nature.

10. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog
Image Credit: Pandas, Shutterstock
Weight: 100–150 pounds
Height: 26–28 inches
Lifespan: 9–10 years
Breed group: Working

Newfoundland dogs were developed by Canadian fishermen as working dogs that specialized in water rescues. They are born swimmers, as their partially webbed toes can attest, and robust enough to bring a drowning man back to safety.

Newfoundlands are also some of the sweetest, most gentle giants of the dog world. They make devoted and patient family companions, and are naturally great with kids.

11. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever sitting on rock
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock
Weight: 35–50 pounds
Height: 17–21 inches
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Breed group: Sporting

These intelligent dogs were bred to trap and hunt waterfowl. They would lure ducks into man-made ponds with their jaunty tails and playful antics and also retrieve downed birds for their owners.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are small for retrievers but have the energy and stamina to play or work all day if you’ll let them! They are upbeat, athletic dogs that do best with an active family or individual that will take them hunting, camping, hiking, and swimming.

12. Otterhound

Otterhound_Shutterstock_Lourdes Photography
Image Credit: Lourdes Photography, Shutterstock
Weight: 80–115 pounds
Height: 24–27 inches
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Breed group: Hound

Otterhounds were developed in Medieval England to control otter populations to protect fish in rivers and ponds. They have huge, webbed feet and a waterproof coat to help them track and hunt otters in the water over long distances.

Though rare today, Otterhounds are bouncy and friendly giants that love to entertain their owners. Take these boisterous canines outdoors often so that they can run and swim to their heart’s content.

13. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog in the forest
Image Credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock
Weight: 35–60 pounds
Height: 17–23 inches
Lifespan: 11–13 years
Breed group: Working

Highly intelligent and hardy, Portuguese Water Dogs will happily spend as much time in the water as they do on land! These web-footed dogs have been used to retrieve nets and equipment lost in the water, and even chase fish into fishermen’s nets.

An adventurous and eager-to-please breed, these dogs need lots of attention and exercise to be content—and, of course, lots of swimming time!

14. Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water Dog
Image Credit: Daz Stock, Shutterstock
Weight: 31–49 pounds
Height: 15–20 inches
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Breed group: Herding

The Spanish Water Dog is a capable mix of herding dog and water dog, which is quite uncommon in the canine world. This hardworking breed is at their happiest when doing a job for their owners and excels at hunting on land and in water.

Though adorably wooly, Spanish Water Dogs are incredibly active canines. If you can give one of these sturdy dogs plenty of work and exercise, however, you will also have an upbeat and playful companion.

15. Standard Poodle

standard poodle at the beach
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock
Weight: 40–70 pounds
Height: 18–24 inches
Lifespan: 10–18 years
Breed group: Working

Often thought of as proud aristocrats, the Standard Poodle is in fact a tough and powerful work dog. Originally, this breed was developed in Germany as a duck hunter and water retriever. Their curly coats provide protection from the elements, they are superlative swimmers, and incredibly intelligent.

These muscular, highly trainable dogs flourish with ample opportunities for exercise outdoors. And they still enjoy a good swim to this day!



So, are any of these water-loving dog breeds right for you?

If you are an active family or individual that loves outdoor adventures and wants to dedicate time and energy to bonding with a playful, energetic dog—then maybe so!

Featured Image Credit: el-ka, Shutterstock

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