If you spend every free moment you have at the cottage swimming in the lake, it’s only natural to want a dog that loves the water, too. From the golden retriever to the not-so obvious poodle, here are 10 dog breeds that will be diving off the dock with you all summer long.
10 dog breeds that make the perfect companion on the water
Like playing with kids and licking their owner’s face, golden retrievers have an instinctual love for water. Originally bred as hunting dogs to retrieve waterfowl and game birds, the golden retriever has a wavy, water-repellent coat that can withstand frigid water and an athletic body that’s built to scramble in and out of boats. Known as one of the smartest, friendliest breeds, with this breed, you also don’t have to worry about your dog terrorizing your lakeside neighbours—they’re more likely to be begging for a round of fetch.
This Hungarian breed might require some gentle prodding to get into the water at first, but once they’re in, they’ll feel like the lake’s their second home. These short-haired, medium-sized pups are excellent swimmers and retrievers. They’re very low maintenance, too. Unlike the lovable but stinky golden retriever, vizsla’s are self-cleaning, which means no ubiquitous wet dog smell.
The Irish setter has the beauty and the brawn. Its silky mahogany coat makes it a favourite at dog shows, while its athletic nature makes it the perfect hunting companion. They love swimming as much as running, so plenty of space is key for Irish settlers. That being said, they’re often used as therapy dogs at hospices because of their friendly temperament.
The most popular dog in Canada is also a favourite among cottagers. Along with being incredibly friendly and intelligent, labs love swimming. They have webbed toes that make paddling a breeze and an interwoven undercoat that’s waterproof. A healthy lab can swim for up to two hours! All that exercise is necessary—the lab is a notorious overeater and can become obese if not active enough.
One of the largest dog breeds is also one of the strongest swimmers. Like the golden, the Newfoundland was bred as working dog for fishermen in Canada’s East Coast. With its calm disposition and intelligence, combined with its thick double coat and webbed feet, these friendly giants are frequently used in water rescue operations.
Don’t let the fancy ‘do fool you. Poodles aren’t afraid to get their hair wet. Bred as water dogs—in fact, their name originates from the German word, pudel, meaning “to splash about”—poodles have webbed paws and a curly coat that keeps them warm in chilly temperatures. Highly intelligent and athletic, don’t be surprised if your poodle can dive further than you off the dock. Best in show; best in water.
The Portuguese water dog was bred to love the water. Working along the Southern Portuguese coast, these dogs were trained to herd fish into fisherman’s nest, dive under water to retrieve broken tackle and deliver messages from boat to boat. Their passion for swimming still exists today, which makes them great cottage companions. They’re friendly yet independent, easily trainable, and love attention. Fun fact: The Obama family owns two Portuguese water dogs, Bo and Sunny.
First known as the little river duck dog, these auburn gun-pups were bred in Southwestern Nova Scotia at the beginning of the 19th century. Their unusual white markings would lure ducks and geese, providing hunters with an easy target. “Tollers,” as they’re often called, are great swimmers and love working, whether it’s retrieving downed birds or dock diving. If you’re out in the open water, be sure to put a life jacket on your toller—they won’t ever want to come out!
While their exact origins are unknown, we know the otterhound has been around from as early as the 1800s in the United Kingdom and was originally bred to hunt otters. But when otters were placed on a list of protected species in the late 1970s, the need for otterhounds rapidly declined. These days, it’s reported that as few as 1000 otterhounds exist worldwide today. They’re strong swimmers—their webbed toes help!—and have an oily double coat that protects them in cold water. Although never traditionally kept as a pet, otterhounds are affectionate and good with children.