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20 Water Dog Breeds That Like to Swim (With Pictures)

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

golden retriever swimming at lake tahoe

If the term “doggy paddle” rings a bell, you might be familiar with the assumption that all dogs can swim. That might be true to a certain degree, but some dogs aren’t built for swimming. The Scottish Terrier might swim when required, but with their solid bodies and short legs, they aren’t going to be winning any prizes for their swimming prowess.

So, if you want to find out which breeds are the most delighted to launch into the nearest lake or hit the beach with their favorite human, keep reading!

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Top 20 Water Dog Breeds That Love to Swim

1. American Water Spaniel

american water spaniel
Image credit: Bennett Walker, Shutterstock
Weight: 25–45 pounds
Height: 15–18 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–13 years

The American Water Spaniel is rare but worth searching for. They’re bursting with energy and enthusiasm for life, and they’re the perfect size to hunt from a skiff or canoe. They’re also familiar with working in water, so if you find yourself in the water as much as you are on dry land, this is the breed for you.

2. Barbet

Featured Image Credit: Pxhere
Weight: 35–65 pounds
Height: 19–25 inches
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The Barbet is known for being athletic and agile and was generally used to flush out and retrieve waterfowl. They have been popular in France since the early 16th century but haven’t quite caught up in popularity in the United States. They are cheerful, loyal, and social, making them a wonderful addition to the family, and they’re drawn to all types of water, even the muddy kind; they’re actually nicknamed the “Mud Dog.”

3. Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel
Image Credit: Pxhere
Weight: 25–40 pounds
Height: 14–18 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–15 years

The web-toed Boykin Spaniel originated from South Carolina and was used to hunt waterfowl in swamps and lakes. They are a fantastic addition to an active family; they’re eager, trainable, athletic, and enthusiastic about water.

4. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Height: 21–26 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–13 years

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an energetic, versatile breed that will thrive with an active family that loves nothing more than being outdoors. With their strength, power, oily coat, and endurance, they were created to swim in the often icy, rough waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

5. Curly-Coated Retriever

curly coated retriever standing on grass
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock
Weight: 60–95 pounds
Height: 23–27 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–12 years

The Curly-Coated Retriever originates from England and is also one of the oldest retrieving breeds. They are incredibly intelligent and playful and are known as “the thinking man’s Retriever.” They can be mischievous to their family and require a lot of exercise. You also won’t be restricted to warm weather since they’re used to retrieving in the iciest waters.

6. English Setter

english setter
Image Credit: michellegraber, Pixabay
Weight: 45–80 pounds
Height: 23–27 inches
Life Expectancy: 12 years

English Setters can be traced back 400–500 years and were initially bred to be bird hunters that would “point” to the game. They are athletic, and with the right encouragement and training from their owners, swimming can become one of their treasured pastimes. The English Setter is regarded as the gentleman of the canines, thanks to their elegance and polite natures.

7. Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat coated retriever dog in the garden_kimkuehke_shutterstock
Image Credit: KimKuehke, Shutterstock
Weight: 60–70 pounds
Height: 22–25 inches
Life Expectancy: 8–10 years

The Flat-Coated Retriever was developed in the1800s and was initially bred to hunt on water and land. They were typically used to bring back downed fowl to the hunter, and their beautiful coat protected them from icy temperatures and harsh weather. They are known to be upbeat and loving and require lots of exercise to keep their mischievous nature at bay.

8. Golden Retriever

golden retriever at the beach
Image Credit: Justin Aikin, Unsplash
Weight: 55–75 pounds
Height: 21–24 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–12 years

The Golden Retriever was initially bred to be a hunting companion to retrieve waterfowl. They’re probably one of the most recognizable breeds; they’re playful, outgoing, and make terrible guard dogs because they just want to be friends with everyone they meet.

9. Irish Water Spaniel

Typical Irish Water Spaniel
Image Credit: Nikolai Belyakov, Shutterstock
Weight: 45–68 pounds
Height: 21–24 inches
Life Expectancy: 12–13 years

The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest Spaniel breeds and can be traced back to England and Ireland in the 1800s. They are eager, intelligent, affectionate, and wonderful swimmers. They are known as the “clown of the Spaniel family,” making them a wonderful companion dog.

10. Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever dog at the beach
Image Credit: MaraZe, Shutterstock
Weight: 55–80 pounds
Height: 21–25 inches
Life Expectancy: 11–13 years

The Labrador Retriever is probably a familiar breed because it is one of the most popular in the United States, which was originally bred to recover waterfowl under challenging conditions. They’re always down to swim and make good companions for families and sports hunters alike. They’re known to be outgoing, friendly, and easygoing, but this doesn’t mean they are low energy; they require lots of exercise, playtime, and, ideally, swimming to stay physically and mentally fit!

11. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo dogs playing in backyard
Image Credit: Dejan Dundjerski, Shutterstock
Weight: 24–35 pounds
Height: 16–19 inches
Life Expectancy: 15–17 years

It’s believed that the Lagotto Romagnolo started it all and that all waterdogs have descended from them. This breed can be traced back to Renaissance Italy and was used as a gundog to hunt down waterfowl, but they are now known for their talent hunting truffles. At first glance, you might mistake them for a teddy bear, but they’re hard workers, prized for their endurance and strength while also recognized for their eager, affectionate natures.

12. Newfoundland

newfoundland dog outdoor
Image Credit: Marsan, Shutterstock
Weight: 100–150 pounds
Height: 26–28 inches
Life Expectancy: 9–10 years

The Newfoundland might not look like it is built for the water, but this gentle giant was actually developed to be a water rescue dog. This breed is at home in the water, and with large lung capacities, they can swim for a long time to safely rescue someone from drowning. They are wonderful family dogs and do great with kids.

13. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

nova scotia duck tolling retriever on the field
Image Credit: Sonja Kalee, Pixabay
Weight: 35–50 pounds
Height: 17–21 inches
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The outgoing, intelligent Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was originally used to lure and then retrieve injured or dead waterfowl. They would distract ducks with playful antics, allowing the hunter to take a shot. They might be smaller than the average Retriever, but they are still packed with energy and stamina that make them a wonderful addition to an active family.

14. Otterhound

Otterhound lying in field
Image Credit: Lourdes Photography, Shutterstock
Weight: 80–115 pounds
Height: 24–27 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–13 years

The Otterhound is incredibly rare and originates from Medieval England; it was bred to control otter populations in order to protect fish in ponds and rivers. They have large, webbed feet and a waterproof coat and are known for being affectionate, boisterous, and funny.

15. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog at the beach
Image Credit: rida tadlaoui, Shutterstock
Weight: 35–60 pounds
Height: 17–23 inches
Life Expectancy: 11–13 years

This athletic, intelligent dog would happily spend as much time in the water as on dry land. The Portuguese Water Dog is web-footed and would herd fish into nets and swim out to retrieve lost equipment and broken nets. They are eager to please and an adventurer at heart.

16. Pudelpointer

pudelpointer in field
Image Credit: Chamois huntress, Shutterstock
Weight: 45–70 pounds
Height: 22–26 inches
Life Expectancy: 13–15 years

The Pudelpointer originated in Germany and is a cross between a Poodle and Pointer. They are versatile and useful for work in the woods, fields, and water. They are known to be extremely intelligent, friendly, and a wonderful family dog. However, they are hard workers and aren’t content with only being a companion—they will also need the opportunity to hunt and work.

17. Spanish Water Dog

a Spanish Water Dog at a dog show
Image Credit: Sue Thatcher, Shutterstock
Weight: 31–49 pounds
Height: 15–20 inches
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

Spanish Water Dogs are most content when they have a job. We don’t have much information about where they originate, but we know they are a hard-working mix of a herding and water dog. They are active, playful, and upbeat companions.

18. Standard Poodle

A purebred standard white poodle
Image Credit: nieriss, Shutterstock
Weight: 40–70 pounds
Height: 18–24 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–18 years

The Standard Poodle might look like an elegant aristocrat, but they’re actually powerful and athletic working dogs. They were originally bred in Germany to be a water retriever and duck hunter. They are highly trainable and still love swimming.

19. Wetterhoun

Image Credit: Marjoleine, Pixabay
Weight: 50–75 pounds
Height: 21–23 inches
Life Expectancy: 12–13 years

The Wetterhoun originated in the Netherlands and was bred for hunting otters. They now make wonderful watchdogs and companion dogs and are known to excel in many sports. They love nothing more than spending time with their favorite humans and, of course, swimming too! While quite serious looking, they are known to be comical and a little clumsy.

20. Vizslas

vizsla dog in the beach
Image Credit: martine552, Pixabay
Weight: 44–60 pounds
Height: 21–24 inches
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

Vizslas originated in Hungary and are becoming increasingly popular in the United States each year. They are sleek, with webbed feet, meaning they are fast in the water. However, they don’t have an insulating undercoat, so they are restricted to swimming in warmer weather. Vizslas love spending time with their families and dislike being alone; they are athletic and thrive with an active, caring family.

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There are many different types of breeds out there that love to spend time in the water. So, if you have plenty of water nearby, are active, and have the time for an energetic athlete to join the family, we hope this list has helped you narrow down your search! It’s clear that whatever dog you go for, you’ve got years of fun and adventure ahead of you.

Featured Image Credit: Jennifer Barnes, Unsplash

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