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11 Dog Breeds for Swimming & Water Activities

Looking for a dog with some swimming power? Pet Insurance Australia has done all the paddling for you to find the top swimming dog breeds. Plus: how to keep your dog safe around water.

“Some dogs simply love the water, while other breeds simply cannot swim without the aid of a lifejacket and close supervision,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “It’s important to research these traits before adopting or purchasing your forever friend to ensure your pet meets your chosen lifestyle.”

With all puppies, it’s important to slowly introduce them to the water in a safe and friendly manner. Start with calm water rather than a raging coastline. 

Going too quickly and having high expectations of your puppy's swimming abilities, even with traditional swimming breeds, can evoke a fear that could stick for life.

“There have been many incidents of pet parents going too quick too soon, if this is done during a typical ‘fear period’ in puppyhood it could affect the dogs love for water it’s entire life,” Crighton suggests. 

“Many dogs are natural-born swimmers. They seem to have tails that act as rudders and can, for the most part, swim better than many of their human-counterparts. But for some dogs (and certain breeds), swimming can be as foreign as flying.”

Water Safety Advice for Dogs

Always keep pool gates closed for the safety of your children and your dog.

If you allow your dog to swim in the pool, teach them how to get out. Many dogs are great swimmers but have been found struggling to climb out of a pool. 

Teach them where the steps are. If you do not have steps, specialised doggy pool ramps are available for added safety. Or always make sure you are there to give your dog a helping hand.

If your dog is a trusty companion on your boat, buy your dog a lifejacket. Even the best swimmers may not have the strength to get back to shore in the event of an emergency.

What is dry/secondary drowning?

Even the best swimmers can get into trouble with dry/secondary drowning. This can occur when your dog has inhaled water

Exhaustion is one of the main causes of this condition. You must stop your pet from swimming, even if they are having fun if you observe they are getting lethargic and tired. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, or your dog has a near-drowning experience, it’s advisable to contact your local vet. Dogs can exhibit these symptoms days after the event, and deteriorate quickly, so it’s important to seek advice quickly.
  • Drooling
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Wheezing
  • Anxiety
  • Coughing, hacking or choking
  • Distress
  • Clear to frothy red drool
  • Water dripping from the nose and mouth
  • Blue gums
  • Lethargy

Top 11 Swimming Dog Breeds

✔️ Irish Water Spaniel
✔️ Chesapeake Bay Retriever
✔️ Curly Coated Retriever
✔️ Golden Retriever
✔️ English Setter
✔️ Flat Coated Retriever
✔️ Labrador Retriever
✔️ Newfoundland
✔️ Portuguese Water Dog
✔️ Standard Poodle
✔️ Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

“There are some breeds that are not designed for swimming, either from their body structure (Dachshund) or weight distribution (Bulldog), however, that’s not to say they don’t enjoy a good paddle,” Crighton says. “These breeds should only be encouraged to swim with the use of a lifejacket.”

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