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If you’re looking to adopt a water-loving companion animal, you have lots of options. Many dog breeds are naturally strong swimmers. And there are even some cat breeds that don’t shy away from water. Of course, every animal is an individual, and it’s always crucial that you safely teach your pet to swim before throwing them in the deep end.
Here are just some of the dog breeds — and, yes, a few cat breeds — that notoriously love to swim.
WATER-LOVING DOG BREEDS
Many dogs of all kinds love splashing around in water. But canines of these 10 breeds essentially were born to do the doggy paddle.
1. American water spaniel
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When a dog breed has water in the name, you know you’re getting a swimmer. The American water spaniel isn’t widely known, though it is the state dog of Wisconsin. It’s likely a descendant of other water spaniels, though its origin is unclear. But what is clear is this dog loves water. “Like any retriever, he’s tireless and needs daily exercise,” according to VetStreet. “… He’ll love anything that involves getting wet and is an excellent choice for boaters, including canoers and kayakers.”
2. Chesapeake Bay retriever
The Chesapeake Bay retriever was developed to hunt waterfowl — and thus is very at home in the water. “The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is sturdy, strong-willed and always keen to learn new things,” according to PetMD’s dog breedopedia. “It enjoys swimming and diving into ice cold water. And although it is active outdoors, it remains gentle and calm inside the house.” But be warned that the breed’s oily, water-repellent coat does give it a particular odor.
3. Flat-coated retriever
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The cheerful and friendly flat-coated retriever used to be even more popular than Labs or goldens. And like its retriever cousins, it’s a huge water lover. “If you have a pool or pond? Well, the Flat-Coat may regard you as a god,” VetStreet says. “Swimming (or just being wet) is his favorite activity. Flat-Coats will lie down in puddles after it rains, jump in fountains, and run headlong into any swimming pool, lake, river, ocean, or other body of water.”
4. Irish water spaniel
The Irish water spaniel is thought to be one of the oldest spaniels, so its affinity for water runs deep. And that’s good because this energetic breed requires lots of exercise in many forms. “Choose him if you enjoy running, hiking, water sports, or other activities that he can do with you,” VetStreet says. These dogs sport a coat that’s oily and water-repellent. But you still must give them a freshwater rinse after swimming (and dry their ears) to remove chlorine, dirt and other potentially harmful debris.
5. Labrador retriever
The Labrador retriever is the reigning most popular dog breed in the U.S. And part of people’s affection for the breed stems from its willingness to engage in all sorts of activities — especially if they include water. “Labs love water — any body of water puddle-sized or larger will attract a Labrador, and mud is considered a fashion accessory,” VetStreet says. “The short, drip-dry coat of the Lab sheds water and dirt easily, but that’s of little consolation if the debris lands on white carpeting.”
If you’re looking for a canine lifeguard, it’s always good to have a Newfoundland around. “In addition to being an excellent pack carrier and guardian for children and families, the Newfie is unmatched at water rescues,” according to PetMD. These dogs will happily go swimming with you in the summertime, but they’re also not opposed to cold-weather dips, thanks to their insulating and water-resistant coats. You can even take water rescue classes with your Newfie to hone their natural instinct.
7. Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever
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The Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever has an interesting way of luring “ducks within shooting range by ‘dancing’ on the shore, a technique called tolling,” according to VetStreet. “Canada’s Micmac Indians admired the ability of foxes to entice ducks in this way, and they taught their dogs the behavior.” And not surprisingly, this waterfowl retriever also loves to swim. Allow them to get out their ample energy through dog sports, such as retrieving toys from water and dock diving.
With a name like otterhound, you know this canine is at home in the water. “The water-loving Otterhound has large webbed feet to facilitate his ability to swim,” VetStreet says. “Combined with his rough coat, they give him a look all his own.” These dogs almost vanished after otter hunting became illegal in Britain. But now they have transformed into companion animals who have a bit of a quirky personality but will love engaging in water sports with you.
9. Portuguese water dog
The Obama family’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, put the spotlight on this water-loving breed. Portuguese water dogs are friendly, intelligent and energetic — and they love to make a splash. “The Portie has a special affinity for swimming due to his heritage as a working water dog, and swimming is a great way for him to burn off some energy,” according to VetStreet. These dogs do take a lot of time and energy to keep them happy, but they will reward you with their unmatched enthusiasm for life.
10. Standard poodle
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Some people seem to forget that poodles are natural athletes, thanks to their background as working and hunting dogs. In fact, “poodles are thought to have originated in Germany, where they were called Pudel, meaning ‘splash in the water,’ a reference to their work as water retrievers,” according to VetStreet. And leaving their fur puffier around the chest and joints wasn’t a fashion statement. It kept them warm in the water. Companion poodles prefer to be involved in family life and are game for most activities, especially if they involve splashing in some water.
WATER-LOVING CAT BREEDS
Maybe “water-loving” is too strong a descriptor for some cats. But cats of these five breeds tend to have an interest in water — and might even do a little kitty paddle.
Bengals originated from crosses between wild Asian leopard cats and domestic shorthairs. And one trait they still share with their wild cousins is their affinity for water. “The Asian leopard has honed the ability to fish in the wild, and your domestic Bengal may very well carry this trait in the more playful form, swimming along side of you, taking a shower or bath, or just playing in the sink,” according to PetMD’s cat breedopedia. If you don’t want this highly intelligent and energetic cat playing with faucets and other potentially unsafe household items, make sure you give them plenty of stimulating toys and attention.
2. Maine coon
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Maine coons are typically easygoing and friendly cats who happen to have a curious attraction to water. “Around water … this breed takes on raccoon-like behaviors such as scooping water with his front paws to quench his thirst or dunking his favorite toys in his water bowl,” VetStreet says. “Savvy Maine Coon owners have learned to park the water bowl inside a larger, high-sided container like an empty litterbox.” It’s also good advice to keep your toilet seat down if you have a Maine coon — or your cat might view it as their own personal kitty pool.
Savannah cats originated from a cross between a serval (a small African wild cat) and a domestic cat. Interestingly, this resulted in a cat breed that often seems more like a dog. Case in point: its love of water. “They love to play in water, and are easily trained to walk on a leash with a harness,” according to PetMD. “They also love to play active games such as fetch.” These are very energetic, adventurous cats who form close bonds with their humans. In fact, they would happily accompany you on hikes (leashed for their safety) — even if it means crossing a few streams.
4. Turkish angora
The sound of running water might have many cats dashing in the opposite direction. But not the Turkish angora. “The Turkish Angora is animated, agile and always up for water play,” according to VetStreet. “Indoor TAs will fight boredom by splashing water out of a sink and hopping in the shower with you. … Some outdoor TAs have been known to paddle around in ponds and shallow streams.” Although they’re not usually lap cats, these felines are still affectionate, chatty and sometimes demanding of attention. So it’s a good thing you can entertain them with some water games.
5. Turkish Van
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The Turkish Van has been dubbed the “swimming cat” for its water-loving personality. “According to folklore, two Turkish Vans were allegedly onboard Noah’s Ark but jumped into the water and swam for shore in what is now Turkey,” VetStreet says. “Growing up in this hot, arid land, the cat cooled down by swimming in Lake Van.” Modern-day Vans will happily go swimming and play with water throughout the house (toilets, faucets, water bowls, etc.). And they stay relatively dry thanks to their naturally water-resistant coat — though the same can’t be said for any spills they create around your house.
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