Maybe some of you have a dog that jumps into bodies of water any chance they get, whereas some of you may have a dog that truly believes water is going to be the terrifying end of them!
Either way, not every individual within a particular breed will feel the same about this element. Some may have had traumatic experiences in the past that have caused them to shy away from swimming, whereas others are simply unfamiliar with the water as they were designed for land activities.
There are still plenty of breeds that were developed for use in the water, however, and individuals in these breed listings more often than not instinctually enjoy swimming, even if it’s their first time near a body of water.
While dogs that love to swim come in all shapes and sizes, what are some large breeds that rejoice in their time spent doing the doggy-paddle and diving for toys?
Large breed dogs that like to swim include the Newfoundland, German Shepherd, Irish Water Spaniel, Otterhound, Standard Poodle, Weimaraner, and various Retriever breeds. Most (though not all) of these dogs were bred for the purpose of performing jobs while swimming in water, having similar physical traits to allow for efficiency and protection from the elements.
Just because a dog was bred for land tasks doesn’t mean that they won’t like water. In fact, there are plenty of active dog breeds that prefer filling their exercise needs through swimming!
Let’s dive into the top ten large dog breeds that like the water, what makes them so special and adept for water sports, and a bit about their personalities!
What Big Dogs Like to Swim?
If you’re looking for a large pooch to accompany you on your swimming endeavors then this list is for you!
Newfoundlands take “large breed” to a whole new level! Reaching 100-150 pounds, these powerful working dogs have a thick double coat that provides water resistance and thermal insulation. This allows them to swim in cold waters with ease, and swim they will!
Their roots are based in the island of Newfoundland, these gentle giants have a strong instinct to dive into the water and perform water rescues. This breed has been so effective in rescue events that they are a required part of the “equipment” for lifeguard stations along the coast of England!
This dog is powerful both in and out of the water, and their eager enjoyment of swimming is sure to bring a smile to your face (and probably leave you quite impressed, too).
2. Golden Retriever
It is safe to say Golden Retrievers have stolen the hearts of countless people worldwide, my own included! Intelligent, trainable, affectionate, and devoted to their families, these pups make excellent working dogs just as much as being excellent family dogs. They have been seen working in the field hunting, guiding the blind, in search and rescue, and even in dog agility shows!
Golden retrievers are not shy to the water, either. In fact, they were bred to hunt waterfowl and retrieve them in the water. It’s safe to say they have to like swimming and diving to have been so efficient in this for so long!
Similar to Newfoundlands, this breed has two coats, with the top coat being water-repellent, and the undercoat being thick to provide insulation.
Next time you’re looking for a larger dog to keep you company in the pool on a hot day, consider your golden best friend!
3. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers have topped the rankings for 31 years in a row as the most registered dog breed in America. These beloved pups have various qualities that make them so adored among the masses; they’re smart, energetic, sociable, eager to please, great with kids and strangers alike, and are always game for a day in the water.
We will see a trend here, and it is that retriever breeds love to go for a dip in any body of water! That is because (specifically) labs were mostly bred for use in fisheries hauling nets, diving for fish, and even retrieving lost fisherman hats.
And their remarkable diving skills are part of what makes them so popular, as these fluffy friends seem to find any excuse to jump right in the water and listen to your every command (or to just paddle around for fun). It is quite enjoyable to watch!
4. Curly-Coated Retriever
This beautiful, curly-coated breed is another retriever on this list that will never turn down some fun in the water!
Curlies are confident both on and off land, as they are famous for being versatile gun dogs and fearless swimmers. Their coat isn’t just for looks either, as it actually protects them from harsh environmental elements that would normally harm other breeds.
More so a working dog than a family dog, it isn’t to say these pups are a bad addition to your home. In fact, it is quite the opposite! Their lovey-dovey side is just as appealing as their work ethic, though they do need work to do to avoid boredom (and ultimately the destruction of your beloved items).
Being the oldest historically of the retriever breeds, their love for the water is bound to be deeper. While still relatively rare to own, this dog lives up to its reputation of being a tireless swimmer. So if you’re looking for a dependable pet to join you for a swim, don’t look past this breed!
5. Flat-Coated Retriever
The luscious locks on this retriever might remind you of Goldens, but don’t count them as the same dog! Flat-Coated Retrievers are relatively new to the scene, but their skills in water sports seem to surpass even the older breeds.
Originating in the mid-19th century, Flatties were bred to be gun dogs that could find and bring back fallen birds, no matter where they landed. This breed is a multi-talented group, proving reliable not only in hunting, tracking, and fetching, but also in agility sports and yes, swimming!
The webbed toes on these friends allow for swift movements through water, mud, and other rough terrain as needed.
If you have the patience to deal with a permanent puppy, then this breed might be the best option for you. They are cheerful, and energetic, and desire plenty of mental stimulation. The more outdoor space you have access to, the better!
6. German Shepherd
You might think of a German Shepherd as a police dog, drug-sniffing dog, guard dog, or guide dog, but what about being an athletic swimmer, too? Just check this video out; you might be as impressed as me by this pup’s speed and effortless movement in the water!
Technically a herding dog, German Shepherds do not shy away from physical activities. They love any form of exercise, even if it means going for a doggy-paddle swim! And their courageous personalities allow them to learn the act of swimming quickly and enjoy it even quicker.
This breed is large, strong, agile, and very smart. They are renowned for their ability to learn a plethora of commands to perform whatever task is needed, and this eagerness spills over into swimming as well. If you dropped something in the water or threw a toy in the pool, you can rely on your German Shepherd to fetch it with efficiency and confidence!
So long as you are prepared for high energy and frequent grooming visits, this breed makes a great companion for beginner dog owners.
7. Irish Water Spaniel
While the Irish Water Spaniel (IWS) is right on the cusp between a medium and large breed dog, I believe that their bravery gives them the ultimate big-dog energy!
Being the tallest of the spaniel breeds, the IWS is loved for its innate abilities in the water (hence the name). These pups were bred specifically for water retrieving and hunting, and their physical characteristics make this very clear.
Sporting a waterproof, ringlet curled coat and webbed toes, these qualities protect this dog from the harsh elements both in and out of the water and allow for lengthy swim sessions.
You will have no problem getting these pups in the water, but you might struggle with getting them back out!
Seemingly with no end to their gas tanks, the IWS loves a good training session to receive your praise and affection. They will never deny a day in the pool or outdoors with you, though their inquisitive nature can lead them to trouble if you don’t pay attention.
Wildly active, endlessly loving, and hardworking, this breed is sure to make a splash in your life!
Another large breed that thoroughly enjoys the water is the shaggy Otterhound. And an Otterhound’s personality is just as big as its body, being boisterous, warm-hearted, lively, and persistent.
This rare breed originated in England back in the 1100s with a rather specific goal in mind: tracking and hunting otters. Their exceptional sniffers, broad chest, and powerful shoulders allowed them to follow an otter’s underwater trail over great distances without tiring.
While the sport of hunting otters is now illegal, these pups never lost their adoration for the water!
You can still see Otterhounds with webbed feet and a rough, dense water-repelling coat. They were practically designed to be in the water more than on land! If you’re the same way, this pup could make the perfect companion for you.
9. Standard Poodle
Poodles aren’t just meant to be showdogs, and they’ll prove it to you when given the chance to jump into a lake! Their name is even taken from the German word “pudel”, which means “one who plays in water”. So, leave those posh stereotypes at the door (except for maybe their pickiness when it comes to food)!
This medium-large breed dog was originally a waterfowl hunting and retrieving breed, though it’s likely you know them as successful award-winning showdogs nowadays.
However, this doesn’t mean that their roots are gone to the luxurious lifestyle! These pooches have great athleticism, strength, and smarts, all allowing them to excel in a variety of outdoor activities, including their initial affinity for water sports.
Not to mention, that Standard Poodles (and really all sizes of Poodles) have a hypoallergenic, waterproof coat made of tiny curls throughout. They basically wear a permanent drysuit and have webbed toes, always ready for a dip in the water!
My grandmother has owned poodles for longer than I have been alive, and my experiences with hers have been nothing short of incredible. It is no wonder why she raves about them as they have an undeniable charisma and gentleness that makes them ideal for families with children or anybody with an active lifestyle!
Weimaraners are pretty much all-around rockstars both outdoors and in a family setting. Nicknamed the “Gray Ghost” after its sleek gray coat and light eyes, their quiet but demanding presence is sure to leave an impression on you!
They have large, muscular builds that allow for them to excel with ease in their original role of hunting. With short coats and webbed feet, they can also move swiftly through water and tend to enjoy it!
This breed does require plenty of physical exercise to maintain a healthy mind and body, though you are not short of options when it comes to this aspect as these pups will be up for any activity you choose, even jumping and agility courses.
An intellectual and active companion, Weimaraners thrive with human interaction and make a wonderful addition to the home so long as you provide them with tasks to do or games to play. They also pair well with other dogs in the household thanks to their friendly and obedient nature.
Bring one of these large breed pups home, and you’ll see for yourself just how much a Weimaraner can look forward to the next time he gets to swim in your pool!
Swimming isn’t exclusive to dog breeds originally bred for water sports. Any dog can swim if taught properly and given enough confidence, though don’t be upset if your pooch would rather stay on land.
Certain breeds have physical characteristics that allow for them to be proficient in the water and are naturally inclined to love jumping into any body of water they can find. Other breeds may not have the special coat or webbed feet to make swimming safer and easier, though their enthusiasm for a pool day still shines through!
Whether they were made for being in the water or not, each dog will have its own individual preferences towards this element.
This list of large breeds isn’t all-inclusive, either, as there will be pups out there that enjoy a swim just like the rest of them even if uncommon for that particular breed. And if you have a large breed pup at home that you just can’t keep out of your pool and he’s on this list, now you know a bit more as to why!
Regardless, with any dog, be sure to watch attentively while they’re swimming in case any danger poses a threat. Even the breeds made for water sports need help sometimes. Happy swimming!