The Schipperke (pronounced skipper-kee) is a small (ranging from 7-20 lbs) Belgian breed that is always ready to go! They are incredibly smart and are known for their keen ability to pick up obedience commands quickly. They are independent and can be stubborn, so consistent training is a must. Members of this breed are commonly known as “Belgian barge dogs”, as they were used for security and to keep the boats free of small pests. These little dogs are very comfortable on the water and they love to swim!
Considered the most popular dog (by registration) in the world today, the Labrador Retriever is known to be an excellent family companion. Due to over breeding, there are many of these wonderful dogs in rescues today. If you are seeking to purchase a puppy, make sure you do so from a reputable source. Labs have a long puppy hood and are often clumsy until they mature (around 3 years of age). These dogs were bred for hunting Waterfowl, thus stems their love of swimming! Their thick coats are somewhat water-repellant.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
This is an unusual breed of gundog. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are medium sized (37 to 51 lbs) red dogs, who – when used for hunting, romp around near the edge of the water, The dog’s white markings and activity entice the birds who then swim over to check out what is going on. (This is known as tolling) When the birds are close enough, the hunter emerges from his cover and this sends the birds flying, allowing a clear shot. This breed loves to work, loves its family and children. They are occasionally reserved with new people, but are not shy. They are always up for a good game of fetch – especially in the water!
Spanish Water Dog
SWD’s are a versatile breed – being gundogs, herding dogs and an assistant to fishermen! The Spanish Water Dog is a medium sized (31-49 lbs) breed with a curly coat that can sometimes end up in cords! SWD’s come in black, beige, brown, white or bicolor (black or brown with white). This is a high-energy breed with a strong herding instinct. They are generally not recommended for novice dog owners as they have a tendency towards being strong willed and occasionally territorial.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the largest (55-65 lbs) and most rare of the Spaniels. They have a dense, curly coat that has a tendency to be very low shedding. This makes them a good choice for those who suffer from allergies. One of their most distinct traits is their strange looking tails! They appear almost “rat like” as they are smooth and hairless! This is a working breed and they must have access to the water that they are bred to work in! They are gentle dogs that love their families, but are known to be shy with strangers. They are great companions for children and do well with other animals. Irish Water Spaniels have webbed feet to aid their swimming habits!
Newfoundlands create a splash as the largest dog on this list! These gentle giants are renowned for their work in water rescue! Newfys are known for their sweet, mellow personalities and their slobbery jowls! These dogs usually weigh in between 100 and 150 lbs! These dogs were originally bred to pull in fishnets and other heavy equipment. Newfoundlands have a natural fondness for children. Their long coats need to be brushed on a regular basis.
The Irish Setter is an active member of the gundog group. They have a propensity for running and enjoy an active lifestyle. Irish Setters are large red dogs, ranging from 53-70 lbs. They were bred for hunting and pointing on all kinds of land and always enjoy a good wade in a pond or stream. The breed is gentle and good with children.
While English Setters may resemble their red Irish “cousins”, their coloring is drastically different! English Setters have speckled coats, also called “belton”. The recognized color combinations are: white with black flecks (blue belton), white with orange flecks (orange belton— depending on the intensity of the color orange, they might be considered lemon belton or liver belton), or white with black and tan flecks (tricolor belton). The breed makes a great family pet, but they need to have lots of activity and stimulation. They are sensitive dogs that respond best to positive training methods. Get them out and swimming early with the family and you’ll have a great outlet for that Setter energy!
Standard Poodles are great working dogs! Though their often-frilly appearance has caused rumors of “prissiness” – members of this breed are fantastic retrievers and gundogs. In fact, the show cuts you see on Poodles were originally fashioned from working clips that were done to protect the dog’s major joints when it was immersed in cold water. The Standard Poodle is highly intelligent and easy to train. The breed makes an excellent family pet and is considered to be hypoallergenic.
Golden Retrievers are up there with Labs on the list of popular family dogs! These large (55-80 lbs) dogs were bred to retrieve fowl and have an instinctual draw to bodies of water! It’s difficult to keep them from swimming if there is a lake or stream in sight! Goldens are exceptionally friendly dogs who are known for their outgoing demeanor. They usually get along well with other family pets and are a good choice for homes with children.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a rare, medium sized (40-60 lbs) breed of dog that was originally bred to drive fish into fishermen’s nets, retrieve lost tackle and nets, and to carry messages from ship to ship, or from ship to the land. The breed has 2 different coat types – curly and wavy. Both types are considered hypoallergenic and do not shed. PWD’s are very smart and have a high working drive. They are friendly, but usually bond heavily to one human family member. This breed must be kept mentally and physically occupied in order to have a content dog.
American Water Spaniel
An American original, it is believed that this medium sized (25-45 lbs) spaniel was developed in Wisconsin during the mid 1800’s. Though there is some debate, the breed is believed to be developed through selective breeding of the English Water Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Curly Coated Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Tweed Water Spaniel, and possibly the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. American Water Spaniels respond best to positive reinforcement during training. Harsh methods should be avoided as they can cause these dogs to become meek or even prone to biting. These dogs generally bond to one member of the household more than others. This breed needs fair and consistent training in order to keep them from becoming too dominant in their household.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (or “Chessies”) are believed to have been developed in Maryland during the early 1800’s. The breed is rumored to have started with the pairing of 2 Newfoundlands who were then selectively bred to other dogs. This large, strong (55-80 lbs) breed has a wavy double coat that naturally repels the water. Chessies are smart, friendly dogs that are naturally dominant and independent. They are generally one-person dogs and are instinctually quite protective. Patient training is required with these dogs as they generally have a mind of their own and need convincing to do otherwise. This breeds webbed toes aids them in their swimming ventures!