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Do Golden Retrievers Like Water and Swimming?

Nicole Cosgrove

The Golden Retriever is a popular choice for a family pet due to their beautiful golden coat, intelligence, and friendly temperament. Known as being calm and docile with children, the Golden Retriever is also playful and well-mannered. This familiar breed is definitely a favorite. Their love of the outdoors makes them ideal companions for a hike or a game of fetch outside.

You may also know that most Golden Retrievers have a deeply inherited love of water and will try to get in it whenever they can! A kiddie pool in this dog’s backyard will be put to good use on hot summer days. It’s difficult to keep these dogs away from any water that they find. Some even love bath time. Let’s find out more about this sweet dog’s love of the water.

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The History of the Golden Retriever

This dog’s love of water started with the breed’s creation. In 1868, the world’s first Golden Retrievers were created from breeding a Yellow Flat-Coated Retriever with a Water Spaniel. The intent was to create an efficient hunting dog that could retrieve prey even if it was in the water. Their original job was to collect waterfowl for hunters. Golden Retrievers have a dense outer coat that repels water, while their undercoat provides a layer of insulation to protect them from the cold. They aren’t afraid to get wet, especially when they’re doing their job! Even when they aren’t working, most Goldens love to swim or play in the water. It’s an instinct that has been bred into them.

Golden retriever dives into the water
Image Credit: Mordasova Elena, Shutterstock

Does Every Golden Retriever Like Water?

If you want a dog that loves water, your chances of getting this are high with a Golden Retriever. However, it’s important to remember that dogs, like people, each have their own personalities, preferences, and opinions. There are some Goldens that don’t like getting wet. This doesn’t mean something is wrong with these dogs. It just means they don’t like water as much as their breed suggests. Some Golden puppies dislike water when they’re young and grow to love it as they get older. Sometimes, it just takes time for them to learn what they like.

Some puppies never learn to like water, however. If you’re adopting an older dog, they may already be set in their ways and prefer to never get their coats wet. Even if they dislike the water, Golden Retrievers are still loving and affectionate dogs that make loyal companions.

golden retriever outdoor
Image Credit: Melanie Mai, Pixabay

Do Golden Retrievers Like to Swim?

Most Golden Retrievers will dive straight into water to go for a swim. If your dog has been introduced to water before they found a home with you, they may take to the water without you having to do anything. If your dog is a puppy, introducing them to water is an ideal way to ensure that they know how to handle themselves in it as they get older.

If you have a grown dog or a puppy that doesn’t like to swim, you may be able to train them how to enjoy water over time. If having your Golden swim and play in the water is something that you’d like to happen, there are ways to introduce your dog to this activity without it being a negative experience.

Remember to never force your dog to do something that they don’t want to do. Some dogs just never want to be in the water. If you’ve been trying for a while and they’re still not into it, it might be time to accept that they aren’t a water dog.

However, if you’re interested in showing your Golden how fun it can be to get wet, there are a few things that you can try to help them along.

Golden retriever standing in the beach
Image Credit: Lars_Nissen, Pixabay

Acclimating Your Golden Retriever to Water

It can sometimes be easier for puppies and younger dogs to get used to the water than older ones. As soon as you get your dog, no matter their age, introduce them to water. The first thing to do is get them used to the feeling of water on their feet.

Take your dog to a body of water where dogs are allowed or fill up a small pool in your yard. Using their favorite toys or treats, coax them into the water. Have them step in and then reward them. Make it a positive experience. Repeat this process until your dog is going into the water on their own.

If Your Dog Is Scared

Even after this process, your dog may refuse to enter the water on their own or be scared while you’re coaxing them to step in it. Remember that some dogs just do not like to get wet, even if they were bred to do so. Golden Retrievers are easy to train and should enjoy getting to know the water, but each dog is unique. Never force your dog to do something that they don’t want to do.

Golden retriever_sasastock_shutterstock
Image Credit: sasastock, Shutterstock

Teaching Your Golden Retriever to Swim

Once your dog has been introduced to the water, you can see if they like to swim. While your dog is attached to the leash, try walking them near a body of water. Eventually, start walking in the shallow parts. If they seem comfortable with that, venture out a little deeper. Once they reach chest-deep water, they should start to paddle.

While holding onto the leash, gently guide your dog in the direction back to the shore. Stay right next to your dog so they feel safe while swimming and to prevent them from heading in the wrong direction. When they reach the land, reward and praise them for doing a good job.

Swimming can be scary for all dogs the first time that they try it, but if they learn to love it, you won’t be able to keep them out of the water. Don’t force your dog to get into the water before they are ready to do so. Allow them to explore the shallow water or shore first for as long as they want to before venturing out farther. They may learn to love the water eventually on their own, but forcing them to go in before they’re ready could have the opposite effect, and they will always associate the water with negative feelings.

Golden retriever dog outdoor
Image CCredit: Piqsels

How to Keep Your Golden Retriever Safe in the Water

Even if your dog loves the water and is an avid swimmer, keeping them safe while they enjoy a swim is your responsibility. It’s important to take precautions to make sure both you and your dog stay safe and have fun.

  • Check the temperature and condition of the water. If the water is too dirty or too cold, it’s best to keep your dog out of it. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause hypothermia in Golden Retrievers, even with their protective undercoats.
  • Don’t allow your dog to swim out far enough that you can’t reach them. Use a retractable, extendable lead or an extra-long leash to let them swim close enough and avoid potential dangers.
  • Don’t look away when your dog is swimming. Always keep your eyes on them when they are in the water.
  • Don’t force your dog into the water by pushing or throwing them in it. This can be traumatic for them. Instead of swimming for fun, they will be scrambling for safety.
  • If your dog appears scared or anxious, help them out of the water and leave swimming for another day.
Golden retriever swimming in the lake
Image Credit: Piqsels

Benefits of Swimming for Golden Retrievers

Swimming is a low-impact, healthy way for Goldens to stay active as they age. If your dog is arthritic or has joint problems, swimming is an easy activity to help keep their muscles strong. Dogs, like people, can move much easier in the water than they can on land.

Instead of going for another hike or playing in the backyard, swimming is a new activity that can break up the routine and keep your dog from getting bored. It’s a fun way to exercise.

Swimming can also keep dogs cool on hot days. If you can’t get out to a body of water, you can fill a small pool in your yard and place it in the shade. Giving your dog a cool place to relax will keep them comfortable in the heat.

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Final Thoughts

Your Golden Retriever’s comfort level should always be your main focus when it comes to them and the water. Most take to water right away and can’t seem to get enough of it. Others take a little more time to come around to it but learn to love it as they get older.

Some dogs never like the water, no matter what. When you have your dog around water, make sure they are happy and enjoying themselves. You can show your dog how to act in the water and slowly acclimate them if they seem unsure about it.


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.