12 Water-Loving Dog Breeds That Are Great at Making a Splash

If you love making waves, casting a line, or just splashing around, these water-loving dog breeds are your go-to companions for every water-filled escapade.

Updated February 8, 2024

If splashing through streams or frolicking on dog-friendly beaches sounds like your idea of a perfect day, then choosing a water-loving dog breed could be the best decision you ever make. Imagine having a furry companion who's always up for a swim, whether it's a leisurely paddle in a calm lake or a joyful dash through ocean waves. Whether being near water and swimming is a regular part of your life or something you aspire to, consider these breeds that don't just like the water but absolutely love it! 

Need to Know

Keep in mind that every dog is an individual, like us! While these dog breeds are known for being water-lovers, certain individuals may still prefer the hard, dry land. 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers — One With the Water


The Chesapeake Bay retriever, named after the watery expanse of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and Virginia, is a breed that's practically one with the water. These dogs were originally bred to be the ultimate assistants to hunters, fearlessly plunging into the bay's icy waters to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl.

Known for their intelligence and friendly demeanor, these dogs are ideal companions for outdoor enthusiasts. They embody hardiness and an adventurous spirit, eagerly seizing any opportunity to swim in a mountain lake during a hike or joyfully dive into the waves of the ocean. For those who live for outdoor adventures and water activities, a Chesapeake Bay retriever could be the perfect four-legged friend.

English Setters — Small Size, Big Splash


English setters, renowned for their hunting prowess, were originally bred to locate game birds and navigate through damp, marshy terrain. They're bursting with energy and need plenty of exercise, making swimming an ideal activity to keep them happy and healthy. 

Notably, the English setter is the more compact member of the setter family, making them an excellent option for those who admire the setter's spirited and affable temperament but prefer a slightly smaller canine companion. This breed offers all the energetic and amiable qualities of a setter in a smaller, more manageable size.

Need to Know

This breed's high energy and gentle temperament make them ideal for those who love outdoor activities like hiking and swimming.

English Springer Spaniels — Puddle Jumper's Delight


The English springer spaniel, a medium-sized dog with a friendly and sociable nature, absolutely adores water activities. This breed is naturally drawn to water, whether it’s swimming in a pool, exploring a lake in the wilderness, or joyfully jumping into rain puddles.

No need to encourage these pups to get their paws wet — they're natural water lovers! Originally bred for hunting, the English springer spaniel is well-adapted to wet conditions and thrives in damp environments, making them a great companion for water-based adventures.

Irish Setters — Rusty Ripples


Contrary to their graceful looks, Irish setters are surprisingly rugged and robust, especially in outdoor settings. Bred originally to accompany hunters in the field, these dogs are well-suited for navigating wetlands, an integral part of their lineage.

Irish setters are known for their amiable nature and high energy, requiring ample exercise to stay content. They would absolutely love activities like swimming, be it in a backyard pool or in natural waters like lakes or oceans, during frequent excursions. These dogs truly appreciate the chance to splash and play in the water.

Golden Retrievers — Splashing Through Life


One of America's best-loved family dogs, the golden retriever is a terrific choice for an active household that enjoys water sports. Initially bred to aid hunters in diverse, and often damp, environments, this breed is robust and well-equipped for water activities, thanks to its hearty constitution and dense coat that effortlessly takes to cold water.

As with most sporting breeds, golden retrievers require plenty of exercise to match their high energy levels, and swimming serves as an ideal outlet for both their physical and mental needs. 

Need to Know

Swimming is an excellent, low-impact exercise for golden retrievers in their senior years, especially for those with hip dysplasia.

Labrador Retrievers — Liquid Love


The labrador retriever, another widely adored breed, is a natural swimmer. Originally bred for retrieving waterfowl from chilly lakes and ponds for hunters, they possess a dense coat that's well-suited for icy water temperatures, though they're equally enthusiastic about swimming in warmer waters.

Labradors are an outstanding choice for those who enjoy hiking and beach trips and are always eager to jump into lakes or ocean waves to fetch a toy. Swimming is not only enjoyable for them but also an excellent form of exercise, essential for keeping them relaxed and content, especially until they reach full maturity.

Labradoodles — Wet Suit Size Optional


The labradoodle, a delightful mix of a poodle and a labrador retriever, inherits its love for water from both parent breeds. This hybrid stands out for its reputed hypoallergenic qualities, although the degree of allergen-friendliness can differ among individuals.

For outdoor enthusiasts who favor a smaller canine companion, the labradoodle is an excellent option. Their size varies, with some as petite as 25 pounds and others reaching up to 75 pounds, offering flexibility in choosing a dog that fits your lifestyle and activities perfectly.

Newfoundlands — Giant Heroes


For those seeking a larger dog that excels at swimming, the Newfoundland is an ideal pick. Bred for water work, these gentle giants were originally developed to assist fishermen by pulling in nets, thanks to their webbed paws and water-resistant coats.

They later gained popularity among water rescue teams, valued for their strength and ability to pull people from the ocean. Known affectionately as 'newfies,' these dogs are not a fit for every household, as they can reach up to 150 pounds when fully grown and require regular grooming. Nonetheless, for those equipped to handle their size and care needs, Newfoundlands make exceptional swimming and lifesaving companions.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers — Tiny Webbed Wonders


Affectionately known as the toller, these medium-sized dogs were bred to retrieve ducks from the cold lakes and rivers of Nova Scotia. They have webbed feet and a coat ideally suited to handling the coldest water temperatures.

Tollers are energetic, intelligent dogs that are also the smallest of the retrievers and are a good option for someone who enjoys a water-loving sporting breed but needs a smaller dog than its larger retriever cousins.

Poodles — Curly Crests


The poodle is the epitome of the fancy, expertly coiffed show dog. People unfamiliar with the breed may be surprised to learn the poodle was originally developed as a hardy hunting dog, and their hairstyles were designed to assist them with retrieving game in cold water. The breed has a water-resistant coat that helps keep them warm and allows them to enjoy swimming.

It's also a great option for someone looking for a smaller dog, as all sizes of poodles have the same coat and water-loving nature, whether it's the toy, miniature, or standard. If you choose to take your smaller poodle for a swim, just be sure to observe basic safety, as their smaller size makes them more susceptible to stronger tides and currents.

Portuguese Water Dogs — Presidential Pick


The Portuguese water dog, often abbreviated as PWD, gained significant fame in the early 2000s when it became known as a "presidential" dog. True to their name, these dogs were bred for aquatic tasks, equipped with webbed feet and a dense coat for insulation in the water.

These dogs have a deep affinity for water and relish any opportunity to swim, making it an ideal component of their regular exercise regimen. Known for their amiable and loving nature, Portuguese water dogs are an excellent option for families with children, especially those with access to a swimming pool, where these dogs can indulge in their favorite activity.

Schipperkes — Barge and in Charge


For boating enthusiasts, the energetic and compact schipperke makes an excellent companion. Originating from Belgium, these dogs were bred as "barge dogs," spending their days onboard boats, making them well-suited to life on the water.

In Flemish, their name translates to "little captain," a fitting title for these maritime canines. Schipperkes are relatively low-maintenance, with bright, lively dispositions that make them a great fit for boats of any size. They're also usually up for a playful jaunt on the beach, adding to their appeal as versatile water-loving pets.

Finding the Water Dog Breed for You


While most water-loving breeds are medium-to-large, there are still many excellent choices to fit any size household. Make sure you're prepared to deal with the high exercise needs of many of these dogs, and always have plenty of towels ready around your house and car to dry them off!

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12 Water-Loving Dog Breeds That Are Great at Making a Splash