Best Dog Breeds for Boaters

Man’s best friend can be a great companion on land or at sea. There are many breeds of dogs that were bred to be on the water and are considered a natural addition to a boat’s crew. With excellent swimming abilities and an unstoppable love of the water, dogs on boats make the perfect adventuring companions.

Standard poodles make excellent water dogs. They're natural swimmers and are easily trained.

Standard poodles make excellent water dogs. They’re natural swimmers and are easily trained.

Having dogs on boats that easily adapt to a water environment will be more enjoyable for both the dog and the owners. Centuries of breeding certain dogs as water dogs help them become accustomed to boating and spending time on a boat.

Choosing Dog Breeds for Boats

While many people prefer to have small to medium sized dogs on boats due to tight quarters, choosing a dog that is bred to be near the water is also wise. Dogs that are natural swimmers will enjoy their time on the water and be great companions onboard a boat or on land.

According to the there are many dog breeds that are ideal for boats because they are good at swimming and love the water.

Schipperke. The Schipperke is a small dog that ranges from 7-20 lbs that is very comfortable on the water and loves to swim. The Schipperke breed is also known as “Belgian barge dogs,”  as they were used for security and to keep the boats free of small pests.

Labrador Retriever. Considered the most popular dog (by registration) in the world today, the Labrador Retriever is bred for hunting waterfowl, which makes them natural swimmers.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Medium sized red dogs, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are always up for a good game of fetch – especially in the water!

Spanish Water Dog. A Spanish Water Dog is a high-energy breed with a strong herding instinct that makes an excellent assistant to fishermen.

Irish Water Spaniel. The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the largest of the spaniels. They are bred to work in water, and have webbed paws that aid in swimming.

Newfoundland. Newfoundlands are a large breed renowned for their work in water rescue, and were originally bred to pull in fishnets and other heavy equipment.

Irish Setter. The beautiful red Irish Setter is a breed with an active lifestyle and always enjoy a good wade in a pond or stream.

English Setter. English Setters resemble Irish Setters, but with speckled coats. A great family pet breed, English Setters need lots of activity and enjoys releasing energy through swimming.

Poodle. Originally bred as water retrievers, poodles are natural swimmers and excellent companions on the water. They are intelligent and easily trained.

Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers are very popular family dogs that are so drawn to water that it’s difficult to keep them from swimming if there’s a lake or stream in sight.

Portuguese Water Dog. The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized breed 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 shore.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (or “Chessies”) are believed to have started with the pairing of two Newfoundlands who were then selectively bred to other dogs. Chessies have a wavy double coat that naturally repels the water, along with webbed paws for swimming.



  1. Mike Ruffles says:

    Great post however, I want to point out that there;s really no ‘best’ bread for boaters, personally my wife and I have had two lovely dogs on board.

    Monty was a Dachshund of the miniature type, we had the privilege of living with him on board our Spray 38 Ruffles Spray for 4 years. Monty passed away in 2006 at the age of 18.

    Mitzie is still with us although she is an older lady now at 17, she is a cross between a Parson jack Russell and a Collie and is, in my opinions (perhaps slightly biased) the most intelligent dog that I have ever met.

    Shame that i can not post a photo on this comment.