Best Dog Breeds for Water Sports

Posted by Jessica Roberts

Although any dog can become a champion in water sports, certain breeds are more adept at doggy paddling. Whether you’re looking for a buddy to join you while kayaking, surfing, boating, paddleboarding, or trying out dock diving, these dog breeds are most likely to take to the water like ducks. Just remember that no matter how strong a swimmer Fido is, you should always supervise him when around water.


“Let’s hit the water!” Photo by BringFido/Alyssa

The Brittany is a small pointing breed known for being passionate, agile, and energetic on land and in water. If their sleek, muscular builds, long legs, and water-resistant coats aren’t enough, their webbed toes will certainly convince you these pups are built for splashing and swimming. These pooches will probably dominate at any competitive water sport they attempt and will certainly be among the fastest swimmers you’ll ever meet.

Bring your Brittany to Smuggler’s Notch State Park in Stowe, VT and let her swim to her heart’s content at one of the best pet-friendly swimming holes in the U.S. If that’s not enough water for the trip, she can also take a dip in the on-site pond at The Stowehof Hotel.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Totally Tubular Toller. Photo by Animal Center

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an intelligent dog bred to trap and hunt waterfowl. Consequently, this active breed thrives at all things related to swimming and retrieving. They are known for being active, always seeking to please their people, and happy to play ceaselessly. Because they are the smallest of the Retriever breeds weighing in at around 40 lbs, they are the perfect size companion in a kayak or on a surf or SUP board.

Bring your water-loving Toller to the annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon in Del Mar, CA. This fun event raises funds for orphaned animals and includes a dog surfing competition, a human surfing costume contest, and even a canine Beach Bum Bikini Babe costume contest. Stay comfortably at the Hilton San Diego Del Mar, where four-legged guests are greeted with a welcome wag bag from Muttropolis.

Portuguese Water Dog

A little damp, but a lot happy. Photo by BringFido/Sydney

Portuguese Water Dogs were originally bred for life on the open waves aboard fishing vessels, and these curly canines are the ideal companion for water sport enthusiasts. You’ll need plenty of energy to keep up with your pup, but this outgoing breed will reward you with loyalty, love, and slobbery kisses. From tubing to surfing, this breed will love any water activity by your side.

Riversport OKC invites you and your Portuguese Water Dog to paddle along the Oklahoma River in a flatwater kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Stay at the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City, and be sure to take your pup shopping for pet products and more at the 21c store.


Born to board. Photo by

Don’t let the Poodle’s fancy fur coat fool you. Their name comes from the German word pudeln, which means “to splash,” and they are fabulous splashers indeed. Their curly coats provide protection from the elements, and they are superlative swimmers and are incredibly quick to learn. Whether a Toy, Miniature, or Standard, Poodles will happily learn whatever you choose to teach. The short stature and lower center of gravity in smaller breed Poodles will help with balance on a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Plus, they make a great choice for people with allergies because they don’t shed.

Bring your Poodle to frolic in the turquoise waters in the Florida Keys. The folks at Lazy Dog Adventures will help teach you both the basics of paddle boarding or kayaking, and guide you on an adventure through the creeks and channels. Stay in paradise at Islander Resort, which spans 24 acres of lush tropical landscape, has a private dog park, and welcomes leashed pups to join you on a private beach.

Labrador Retriever

Doing that thing they do. Photo by BringFido/David

This list could certainly be made up of every breed of Retriever, as they are known to be natural swimmers and have a perfectly buoyant build. But the Labrador Retriever’s strong physique and endurance make them perfectly suited for water sports that require long swims, and their characteristic amiable attitude means they are typically highly trainable and reward-driven. Your Labrador Retriever will probably thrive at any water sport, but with a knack for fetching, dock diving will likely be his favorite.

Your Labrador will leap with joy on a tubing trip down the Congaree River with Palmetto Outdoors Make your trip extra epic and stay at the pet-friendly Home2 Suites by Hilton Columbia Downtown conveniently located near the Congaree River.

Pit Bull

Grinning and swimming. Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

Unlike the other breeds on this list, the Pit Bull is not a natural swimmer. However, their gutsy, eager-to-please nature and powerful body structure make them excellent athletes, and the breed’s performance in water sports is no exception. They are strong jumpers and succeed exceptionally well at dock diving competitions in particular.

Let your Pit Bull learn the skills needed to be a dock diving champion at Astro Air Dogs Dock Diving Tank in Simpsonville, SC. They offer dock diving classes, private classes, and competitions for all skill levels. Stay overnight in nearby Greenville at the Aloft Greenville Downtown, where canine guests are greeted with treats, bowls, beds, and toys upon arrival.

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Banner photo by Animal Center.