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10 Best Boat Dogs That Love Water & Swimming & Sailing (2023)

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If you are looking for a good fishing dog companion who enjoys boating and swimming, then one of the best boat dogs is perfect for you.

best boat dogsAre you looking for a four-legged friend onboard your houseboat? Are you a boating clan looking to add a furry member to the family?

Many dog ​​breeds have been bred to be on the water and are considered a natural addition to a boat’s crew.

These dog breeds have been developed for work in the water, whether hunting, retrieving, rescue, or all-around helpers.

With excellent swimming skills and unstoppable love of the water, dogs are on boats the perfect adventure companions.

If you’re out on the lake all summer, why not choose one of the best boat dogs to go with?

Breeding certain dogs as water dogs help them get used to boating and spending time on a boat.

Here are the top ten dog breeds for boating to help you find your furry first mate!

How to Choose the Best Boating Dogs

Many sailors prefer smaller dogs because they take up less space onboard, they need fewer cans of food, and it is easier to clean them up afterward if they have an accident.

Whether that’s swimming next to you in a kayak, lounging on the deck, or jumping to rescue a lost boat shoe.

Other features to watch out for include in water dog breeds:

  • Obedience
  • Calm temperament
  • Adaptability
  • Sociable disposition
  • dogs that like water!

These characteristics vary between dog breeds for boating, so take the time to choose the breed that works best suits your needs.

10 Best Boat Dogs That Like Water and Sailing

As you can see, there is quite a long list of great picks when it comes to the best boating dogs.

We’re going to discuss the top boat dogs and why they are a good choice to have as a co-captain. Also sharing some great (and important) boating safety tips with your furry best friend.

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever on boatI grew up with labrador retrievers, and in my opinion, they are the most loving, good-natured, and laid-back dogs you can find; Labrador retrievers are easy to train and eager to please, making them ideal for getting out on the boats.

Ready to have fun with whatever the rest of the family does, and they happily splash on the deck while you mess around; no worries in the world this relaxed state of mind makes it really easy to have dogs, no need to worry they run away and they don’t really get bored, they love swimming too!

2. Portuguese Water Dogs

Portuguese Water DogsAlso called The Portie, this medium-sized dog was bred to help a fisher. They would float fish in nets and even carry messages between ships and boats.

Parts are designed for swimming – they have thick, water-resistant, webbed feet, and they use their tails as a rudder when swimming to help them navigate.

They are usually amiable dogs that are easy to train, plus their insatiable desire to get wet would certainly make them a great companion for a boater or a boater’s family.

Just a word of warning, Portuguese water dogs curly coat requires a lot of maintenance. It would help if you brushed her at least three times a week to avoid tangles.

3. American Water Spaniel

American Water SpanielThe American Water Spaniel is known for two things …

  • a beautiful brown coat, and …
  • love of all things water and getting wet, hence the name (water spaniel)

it is the ideal size for all types of boats, whether relaxing on a kayak trip or sailing a night under the stars; it is versatile and fun and is undeniably one of the best dog breeds for boats.

This charming little Wisconsin water dog is just the right size to hunt from a canoe or boat.

Combining the qualities of a retriever and spaniel, he is used to working in water from the Great Lakes swamps to the icy expanses. The breed is quite rare, but connoisseurs love its eagerness and energy.

4. Schipperke

Schipperke boat dogsThe Schipperke is a small: medium dog. Their name means (Kleine Kapitein), or (Kleine Bootman) in Flemish. These dogs were originally bred to work on the Dutch’s canal boats by guarding the boats and keeping small vermin from the boats.

If anyone is looking for a dog on a boat, this breed is perfect because it is not a large dog, so you don’t have to worry about space. They don’t have the (wet dog) smell when they are wet, and they are agile great swimmers and low maintenance.

5. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog boatingTraditionally used as a water dog, Newfoundlands are also a great choice for sailors and boaters, as long as you have space.

These huge dogs were built for swimming and were originally used as working dogs, from trolling to pulling nets, lifesaving dogs. Their sweet temperament makes them ideal to have with you when you are sailing, but it is well known that they drool, so pack your waterproof clothing!

This dog is known for his work in rescuing water and pulling heavy equipment and fishing nets, making it the ultimate all-purpose water dog. Were also a field working dog who served as draft dogs and pack animals.

6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever swimming dogs breedsThis tough breed was used for hunting ducks in the cold waters of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, so they are a good fit if you live in colder climates, and their dense, waterproof coat is designed to keep them warm even in icy water.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever is small, so it fits well on smaller boats. But don’t let her size fool you – this little dog has a big personality, and she needs a sturdy and confident leader. Be quite protective as well, so she will make a great watchdog on your boat.

7. Poodle

Poodle dog breedsThe Poodle was originally a water dog used in hunting before it was discovered that they had so many other talents.

They love to be wherever their people are, get along with anyone, are smarter than most other dogs, and have the patience of a saint. These poochies are perfect for any activity.

These dogs are brilliant and therefore, easy to train. Poodles make excellent swimmers and excellent companions for water sports enthusiasts.

8. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever dog breedsThis is a popular land dog with families, but they can also make a great companion for a sailing family!

Goldens were originally bred to hunt and retrieve waterfowl, so they love to keep everything indoors. The water is thrown upwards.

The golden retriever is also just beautiful to see while swimming – her long, wavy, golden coat is water-resistant, so the water slides right off. Of course, be careful if she shakes.

In addition to their instinct to swim, Golden Retrievers are very gentle, loving dogs that are highly trainable.

9. Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water DogAlso a water-based working dog, the Spanish Water Dog was originally bred to retrieve waterfowl. Their characteristic curly hair gives them buoyancy in the water while also allowing them to cool their bodies more efficiently.

This is an adaptation suited to their historical use as shepherds.

Their herding nature means they are full of energy and hyper-intelligent, so it’s nice to have them around; make sure you get them enough exercise before sailing with them.

10. Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water SpanielHe has a naturally water-repellent coat, intelligence, stamina, and an eager demeanor, one of the largest and oldest spaniel breeds.

He’s also naturally taller than the rest, designed with a water-resistant coat that is very handy. It is for playing in the water.

These characteristics make the Irish Water Spaniel a versatile hunting dog, especially for waterfowl. He is also a great companion, often the (clown of the spaniel family.)

This smart, enthusiastic, and versatile pup is great for taking on any boating adventure. Don’t be surprised if he’s a little crazy at times, as he’s known as the ” clown “when it comes to the spaniel breed.

Safety Tips for Boating With a Dog

While your dog may be a great water dog, you should always put safety first. We’ve put together a list for you.

  • Do not leave your dog alone and unattended on a boat.
  • For all dogs and people on board the boat, you need a personal flotation device. Even strong swimmers can get in trouble on the water.
  • First aid kits are a must, and as a qualified skipper, you must have a good first aid kit on the boat.
  • Your dog must have unlimited drinking water.

FAQs About Dog Boating

Do Dogs Like Boats?

Most dogs love boating. Many dog breeds love to be around (and in) the water, but not all dog breeds are good swimmers. Dogs should always have a life jacket when boating. No exceptions.

How do I keep a dog cool on my boat?

  • Provide a shady area on the boat
  • Protect the legs from furniture such as vinyl that can burn your dog’s legs
  • Give the dog a cooling mat.
  • Access to unlimited water
  • Invest in a cooling vest for your dog

What is the best fishing dog?

Portuguese Water Dogs and Labrador Retrievers. They were bred for fishing-related tasks, so fishing is in their DNA.

Which dogs cannot swim?

Pugs, boxers, bulldogs, and dachshunds should not swim. Other top-heavy dogs, dogs with flat faces, and dogs with short legs (compared to their body size) should also stay out of the water.


The best boat dogs are those that are natural swimmers and are comfortable on boats.

If you are looking for a canine companion, it is best to choose an already natural swimmer that, thanks to her breeding, can easily get used to life on the water.

Any of these water dog breeds can be very suitable for a boater, but you should also consider the breed’s size and characteristics to decide if they are a good fit for you and your family.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.