When learning to swim people are often taught how to doggy paddle. So, it stands to reason that all dogs can swim. However, nothing would be farther from the truth. Although all dogs will naturally paddle when put in water, some breeds are physically unable to stay afloat for various reasons.
Many dogs that love water are not great swimmers. If a puppy is exposed to water at a young enough age they may enjoy a good bath, playing in a baby pool, or frolicking through a backyard stream; but that does not mean they are designed to swim.
Dogs with flat muzzles, such as boxers and pugs have a difficult time keeping their heads above water. They simply are not designed to be good swimmers. This doesn’t mean they are incapable, just that breathing is important and it’s more difficult to swim when swallowing half the pond.
Dogs with short legs, disproportionately large heads, and high bone density will have trouble swimming and staying afloat. Basset Hounds are a prime example of a dog that fits all these characteristics. Their short legs don’t allow for quick or upward movement, a dense bone structure doesn’t allow for good buoyancy, and a typically large head for their frame means they can’t keep their head above water.
Other notable breeds with trouble swimming include Old English Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pitbulls, and Dachshunds (more on this later). One exception to the rule is Corgis. This cylindrical K-9 with their stubby legs and long bodies don’t fit the criteria for best swimming dogs, but the breed is well known for loving water.
OK then, what are the best swimming dogs? It would be easy to just say the best swimming dogs are those dogs with webbed feet. However, like with Corgis, there are exceptions to every rule. For the most part, dogs that love water and are the best swimmers do have webbed feet. So, let’s look at the most popular dog breeds with webbed feet and see which breeds are best suited for your next San Diego beach trip.
Dogs with Webbed Feet
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
When a breed is named after a body of water on the east coast, it’s a safe bet they’re a capable swimmer. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever lives up to its namesake. Reportedly bred from the large Newfoundland and Irish Water Spaniels, the Chessie is as much as home on the water as it is on land. A true retriever, this breed was developed to hunt waterfowl along the Maryland coastline. As far as dogs that love water goes, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is near the top of the list.
A courageous and lively breed, affectionately known as a wiener dog, the Dachshund is one a few dogs with webbed feet. However, as mentioned previously, the Dachshund is not suited for water. Originally bred to hunt small animals, such as badger and rabbit, the Dachshunds webbed feet came in handy. Dachshunds needed to be efficient diggers and burrowers to catch their prey, and the webbing between their toes helped expedite the process. When it comes to best swimming dogs, the Dachshund is at the very bottom of the list.
The most popular dog in America is also one of the best swimming dogs in America. The Labrador Retriever is so well adapted to water, it’s like the breed was designed is an aquatics lab. In addition to webbed feet, Labs bodies are shaped like a boat’s keel, their coats mimic that of a duck, and they have a rounded, tapering, otter-like tail which acts much like a boat rutter. If we had to choose the best swimming dog, it would be the Labrador Retriever.
Stories of the Newfoundlands aquatic adventures are almost legendary, if not mythical. Tales tell of rescued sailors and vessels, fisherman’s assistants, and feats of high strength and stamina. Though not engineered for the water like Labs, the Newfoundland is equally at home in the water. What the breed lacks in boat-like “design” elements they make up for in size and personality. Easily the largest dog on this list, weighing in at well over 100 pounds, the Newfie is known as much for its sweet temperament as it is one of the best swimming dogs.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
As the name implies, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was bred to retrieve ducks from the frigid Nova Scotia waters. Webbed feet made for a breed who agile and quick through the water. Their coat is well equipped to handle the freezing temperatures of the frozen north, with an extra layer of fur around their necks, protecting blood flow to their brains. Any dog willing to jump into snow crusted waters to retrieve a downed duck qualifies as a dog that loves water in our opinion.
A popular gundog in America, Weimaraners were initially bred for hunting massive game like boar and deer. Over the years the Weimaraner has been adapted to hunting small game, including birds. Their webbed feet come in handy for retrieving ducks, while their renowned stamina helps make them strong swimmers. With their seemingly endless supply of energy, swimming is an excellent release for the breed.
Best Swimming Dogs
As we’ve illustrated, the best swimming dogs are not necessarily the dogs with webbed feet, but in most cases, it helps. Whether looking for an Oceanside beach or San Diego beach companion, you can’t go wrong with any of the best swimming dogs on our list. Check out our available puppies for adoption in Temecula, or contact us if you don’t see the breed you’re looking for.