12 Dog Breeds That Absolutely Love the Water

three nova scotia duck tolling retrievers in water
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Pups such as the Boykin Spaniel, Lagotto Romagnolo, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and Poodles of all varieties are always ready to make a splash.

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black flat coated retriever posing on rock
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Most dogs will enjoy some amount of water play. After all, what pup could resist jumping into a puddle or splashing around in the lake? Going for a swim in the pool on a hot day may also tempt many dogs, even those with a general aversion to water. And while most dogs will like playing in the water, there are some breeds that absolutely love the water above all else.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the breeds that thrive in water are ones that were bred to work in the water in some form either rescuing, hunting, or retrieving. Historically, some of these dog breeds acted as an all-around fisherman's helper on sailing ships. Others accompanied their human caretakers in flat-bottomed canoes while hunting for waterfowl. Today, most of these dogs are simply delighted to visit the beach alongside their families. The Labrador Retriever or Poodle will enjoy the excitement of the outdoors and tolerate colder temperatures. The Newfoundland, described as a gentle giant, combines its love for water and bond with owners as a rescue dog. All of these dogs are usually strong swimmers, and playing fetch in the water is considered a great way to burn off energy without the risk of injury that repetitive impact through retrieving on land can cause. Highly trainable, they will track a scent and keep their cool under gunfire in the pursuit of fish and game.

If you're looking to adopt a dog that can join you in waterfront activities, consider one of these breeds with a natural affinity for it.

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American Water Spaniel

american water spaniel
Courtesy of The American Kennel Club

If you live along the Great Lakes, this dog breed is well suited to the icy waters of the region. American Water Spaniels are mid-sized dogs with a waterproof coat and possess high intelligence and loyalty.

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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

three nova scotia duck tolling retrievers in water
Jagoda Matejczuk / 500px / Getty Images

Originally bred and trained as hunting companions, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (or "tollers" as they're called) need to run around, hunt, and play to work off their tremendous energy. They may even let out their distinct "toller" scream in excitement. This sporting breed is recognized by their striking red coat and white markings, as well as webbed feet that makes it well suited for the water.

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Spanish Water Dog

spanish water dog in studio
Courtesy of American Kennel Club

The Spanish Water Dog was bred to be a herder and waterfowl retriever. While the breed is naturally curly and wooly head to toe, a dip in the water doesn't mean daily grooming. Most owners let their coat grow out over months to form cords; this "cording" process results in a low-maintenance coat.

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake bay retriever jumping into lake
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As the only American-bred retriever, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever thrives in the icy cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay. It's a family companion born to love water and the outdoors of its namesake. This breed is known for loyalty, strength, and hunting ability.

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Flat-Coated Retriever

black flat coated retriever posing on rock
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Don't let their lifelong puppy-like exuberance fool you: Flat-Coated Retrievers are hard workers well equipped for aquatic sports. Highly intelligent, they are generally easy to train although their rambunctious attitude can be either delightful or exasperating, depending on your tolerance for such antics.

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Boykin Spaniel

boykin spaniel in tall grass
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Named after the tiny South Carolina town in which the breed was first created, the Boykin Spaniel was developed as a hunter for the swampy American southeast. And if you hunt waterfowl, then the Boykin is the perfect companion—historically, they've learned to help hunters navigate from flat-bottomed boats or canoes.

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English Setter

english setter puppy in pond
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Dignified English Setters do well in a household with animals, children, and their human caretakers. All they want is to bond with you, so these dogs are known for their friendly demeanor. Technically speaking, there are two types of English setters: Laverack and Llewellin. Generally, Llewellin setters are smaller in size and more commonly used for hunting, while Laveracks are larger in size and content as family dogs.

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Lagotto Romagnolo

wet laotto romagnolo surrounded by flowers
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This Italian breed, the Lagotto Romagnolo (plural: Lagotti Romagnoli), is covered in head-to-toe curls, but don't let those teddy bear looks fool you: These dogs are alert, intelligent, and lively. While they are not hyper, early socialization and training is needed for any dog to mature into a well-mannered companion. According to the AKC, the Lagotto Romagnolo is suspected as being the origin of all water breeds.

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Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
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One of the most popular breeds in the country, the Labrador Retriever makes for a great family companion. Originally, they were bred to retrieve waterfowl and they love a good swim. That said, they get along well with other pets in the home including other dogs, cats, and small animals.

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barbet dog breed in snow
Courtesy of the American Kennel Club

A rarity in the United States, Barbets have been a popular French water dog since the 16th century, when Henry IV hunted waterfowl with his dog of the same breed. They're known for their dense, curly fur and impish personalities that entice them into muddy places, earning the nickname "mud dog."

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Newfoundland dog
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You wouldn't be inclined to think of this gentle giant as a water dog, but the Newfoundland (or "Newfs") was bred for water rescue. At 200 pounds, these dogs have natural lifesaving instincts and, with a large lung capacity, can swim long distances to bring a victim to safety.

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poodle in tall grass at beach
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Despite its stately appearance, the Poodle (Standard, Mini, or Toy) won't pass up on a good swim. In fact, the name "poodle" derives from the German word "pudl," which translates as "to splash in water." Their characteristic curly coat serves to keep the dog warm as it plunges into chilly water to retrieve birds and other game.

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