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The Best Dog Breeds For Boaters

If you want to take a dog out to sea with you, then you need to be informed. What dog breeds are best for boaters? There are many dog breeds that were bred for the water. Waterdogs can make an excellent crew member for your boat because, well they love the water, and are used to being on boats. Dogs on boats can make boating more fun than it already is. Just think of all the adventures that could be had.

The best dog breeds for boating would be dogs that are in the water dog category like the Portuguese water dog because these dogs were bred for the water.  Let’s take a look at the dog breeds that would be best for a boater who wants to take their dog out on the boat. 

Best Dogs for Boaters

A Portuguese Water dog waiting for a command.
A Portugues Water dog waiting for a command.

 Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese water dog is in the working group, and they are a working water dog.  This breed was originally bred to help the fishermen in Portugal. They would jump in the water and herd the fish into the nets, retrieve lost tackle as well as nets.  The Portuguese water dog would also go from ship to ship delivering messages. This dog spent a lot of time in the water and on boats, therefore making them great swimmers. This is definitely a good choice for a boater who wants a dog to spend time with on their boat.  Portuguese water dogs almost became extinct in the 20th century. This is because technology advanced and there was really no need for them.

A Newfoundland Dog looking off into the distance
A Newfoundland Dog looking off into the distance


The Newfoundland is a large dog breed in the working group.  This dog is known for its work in water rescue and for pulling heavy equipment and fishnets making them the ultimate all-purpose water dog.  Their work was not limited to the sea, in fact, they were also a working dog on land. They served as a draft dog and pack animal. 

A poodle playing with its ball.
A poodle playing with its ball.


The poodle was originally a hunting dog.  They would go out with the hunters and would hunt duck.  Poodles were used as water retrievers. These dogs are highly intelligent, therefore they are easily trained. Poodles are excellent swimmers and superb companions for boaters.


The Schipperke is a small – medium-sized dog.  Their name means “Little Captain”, or “Little Boatman” in Flemish.  These dogs were originally bred to work on the canal boats of the Dutch by guarding the boats and keeping small pests off the boats.   

If someone is looking for a dog on a boat, then this breed is perfect.  This is because they are not a large dog, so no need to worry about the space.  They don’t have the “wet dog” smell when wet, they’re agile, great swimmers and low upkeep.

Labrador Retriever laying in the grass with a stick.
Labrador Retriever laying in the grass with a stick.

Labrador Retriever

The good old Labrador Retriever.  The most popular dog breed. Labrador Retriever was bred for hunting waterfowl.  But it doesn’t end there. The lab also retrieved fish, and pulled fishing boats through very cold and icy water and would do any tasks that involved swimming.

Not only are they great family pets, but they are great out on the water as well, and are very comfortable on boats. This is an excellent dog breed for boaters.

A  Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever on the beach
A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever on the beach

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a medium-sized sporting dog.  They were bred to lure ducks into nets since the 17th century. They love to play fetch in the water and are excellent swimmers. Another great dog breed for boaters.

Spanish Water Dog

A dog that was an all-purpose water dog, the Spanish Water Dog was a busy worker indeed.    As a working water dog, they would jump into the water to retrieve nest, fishing tackles, and mooring lines in the northern coastal regions and fishing ports.  They were great companions for the fishermen and did very well on boats. 

They are now used as search and rescue dogs, drug and explosive detection dogs, and herding dogs.  Wow! What can’t this dog do? Definitely a dog I would want on my boat.

A Golden Retriever laying in the grass
A Golden Retriever laying in the grass

Golden Retriever

Another favorite family dog, the Golden Retriever loves the water.  You might even find that is very difficult to get them out of the water once they have entered and started swimming and playing around.

This dog was used to push through heavy vegetation, swim in extremely cold water to retrieve.  They are very strong swimmers and therefore, it would be a joy to have on a boat with the family.  Definitely a top dog breed for boaters.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was bred to retrieve ducks in the icy waters of Chesapeake Bay, therefore making them exceptional swimmers. The CBR is a great dog to have on a boat.

A  American Water Spaniel enjoying a day on the beach
A American Water Spaniel enjoying a day on the beach

American Water Spaniel

These guys are a curly-coated dog breed.  The American Water Spaniel is a highly skilled swimmer and a good dog breed for boaters.  This dog was taken out on boats and sent to retrieve waterfowl.  Since they are a medium-sized dog, they can fit in canoes, therefore if you have a bigger boat, where there is no worry about space for this dog. A great canine to have on the boat!

Don’t Forget Safety!

Although your dog may be a great water dog, you should always put safety first.  We’ve put a list together for you. 

  • Do not leave your dog on a boat alone and unsupervised
  • All dogs and persons on the boat need to have a Personal Floating Device.  Even strong swimmers can run into trouble out on the water
  • First aid kits are a must and plus as a licensed boater, you are required to carry a proper first aid kit on your vessel.
  • Your dog must have access to unlimited drinking water.  


The best dog breeds for a boater are ones that are natural swimmers and are comfortable on boats. 

The breeds listed above will be a good match for a boater looking for a canine sea mate.  However, you should take into consideration the size of the dog and space on your boat.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Keep A Dog Cool On My Boat?

  • Make sure there is a shaded area on the boat
  • Protect paws from furniture like vinyl that may burn your dog’s paws
  • Provide the dog with a cooling mat
  • Access to unlimited water 
  • Invest in a cooling vest for your dog

What Is The Best Fishing Dog?

There are quite a few good fishing dogs, but a very popular one is the Australian Shepherd.  This dog loves to be busy and needs to a part of what you are doing. They will stay by your side, and wait patiently as you both wait for a tug on the fishing pole.  The Australian Shepherd is one of the most obedient dogs breeds and is a very good companion, therefore making them a great sea mate!

Do Dogs Like Boats?

Most of our furry canines love being out on the water just as much as people.  Just remember the safety tips if you bring your dog out on the boat with you. Some of those tips are- protect your dog’s paws from hot materials that may burn, provide your dog with unlimited water, invest in a cooling vest, make sure there is shade. Dogs can heat stroke just like we can. And we ALL know what that is like. No fun at all.


  • Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds- D. Caroline Coile Ph. D.
  • Wikipedia
  • Boat Trader –
  • American Kennel Club
  • Wikipedia

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