Best Boating Dogs

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Are you a boating clan looking to add a furry family member to the mix? If you spend all summer on the lake, why not choose one of the best boating dogs to join you? After all, some dogs are born to be on the sea, while others might have a serious issue with being on the boat and near the water. Our dog breed selector series is critical to a boatload of happy memories.

Best Boating Dogs 2024

best boating dog breeds 2024

The 17 best dogs for boating in 2024 include:

  1. American Water Spaniel
  2. Barbet
  3. Beagle
  4. Boykin Spaniel
  5. Chesador
  6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  7. Cocker Spaniel
  8. English Setter
  9. Irish Water Spaniel
  10. Labrador Retriever
  11. Lagotto Romagnolo
  12. Miniature Schnauzer
  13. Newfoundland
  14. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  15. Poodle
  16. Portuguese Water Dog
  17. Schipperke

As you can see, there is a rather lengthy list of great choices when it comes to the best boating dogs. We’re going to discuss the top picks, and why they are a great choice to have as co-captain. We will also be sharing dogs to avoid entirely and some great (and important) safety tips for boating with your furry best friend.

17 Best Dogs for Boats

best dogs for boats

1. American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is known for two things…

American Water Spaniel
  1. A lovely brown coat, and…
  2. A love for all things water and getting wet, hence the name ‘Water Spaniel’

He’s the ideal size for all types of boating, whether you’re relaxing on a kayaking trip or bringing out the yacht for a night under the stars. He’s versatile and fun, undeniably being one of the best boating dog breeds.

2. Barbet

You might not find too many Barbets (AKA French Water Dog) in the United States, but if you’re lucky enough to find one, grab those curls and hold on tight!


These lovely, super furry dogs are drawn to the water like no other, so much so that they were given the nickname ‘Mud Dog’ for their love of jumping into muddy swamps with ease.

3. Beagle

You might not think of the adorable, fun-loving (yet slightly destructive) Beagle to be a great boating dog, but that could not be further from the truth.

Beagle the boater

Although a bit on the smaller and more stubborn side, the Beagle makes a great co-captain — especially if he has been properly trained to listen to his captain. He’s a lover of boat rides, so don’t be afraid to bring your Beagle along for the ride.

4. Boykin Spaniel

Known as the ‘Little Brown Dog’, the Boykin Spaniel is smaller than most other Spaniels, giving him this adorable nickname.

He is also notoriously brown in color, which lives up to his name. Aside from his features, the Boykin Spaniel makes a great boating dog because he loves the water and was originally bred to hunt in swamps. 

5. Chesador

If you take a look at this list you will notice that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Labrador Retriever are both on the list.

So what happens when you mix two amazing, water-loving breeds?

You get the adorable and very water-friendly Chesador!

This lovely blend loves all types of boating while also being a family dog that learns incredibly quickly. Loyal and fun, he’s the ideal co-captain.

6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is undeniably known as one of the most noble sea dogs you could ever own.

He’s the type of dog with the physical and psychological strength to handle just about anything, and his true love is being on the water. He’s a bit of a stubborn pup, but with proper training, he will be a respectable first mate to take to sea.

7. Cocker Spaniel

Easily trained and the perfect family dog, the Cocker Spaniel is an affectionate pup who is ready to jump into the water and play any chance he gets.

Cocker Spaniel boating dog

He does great in cold temperatures and is fairly easy to train, making him a water companion that will be more than happy to spend his afternoons under the sun.

8. English Setter

The English Setter might not have originally bred for any specific water purposes, but this sweet and friendly pup is one who is drawn to the water.

English Setter

The only issue with the English Setter is he will need a bit of help when learning how to swim. Once he’s comfortable, he will gladly join any boat for an excursion full of adventure.

9. Irish Water Spaniel

Did you know that the Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest Spaniel breeds?

He is also naturally larger than the rest, designed with a water-resistant coat that’s very useful for playtime in the water.

This smart, eager, and versatile pup is great for bringing along on any boating adventure. Don’t be surprised if he’s a bit goofy at times, too, considering he is known as the ‘Clown’ when it comes to the Spaniel breed.

10. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are, without a doubt, one of the most popular dogs in the world.

Labrador Retriever

Aside from being loyal, quality pets to have in the home, they are natural lovers of water considering their original role of retrieving fish in Newfoundland.

If you’re looking for a smart, fun, and overall friendly dog to come aboard for the trip, the Labrador Retriever is always a great pick.

11. Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotta Romagnolo has a rich history and is actually known as the original water dog breed from which all other water dogs were founded.

He was originally bred for hunting waterfowl, but since then, he has become the only purebred dog with the ability to hunt down truffles.

However, this newfound ability certainly doesn’t take away from his love for the water and excellence in swimming. That being said, the Lagotto Romagnolo is still one of the best boating dog breeds.

12. Miniature Schnauzer

While the Miniature Schnauzer comes from a farm life, that doesn’t mean he can’t also be an impeccable companion on a boat.

Miniature Schnauzer the boater

He’s a versatile little guy that can easily be transported on and off boats. Aside from that, he’s an alert pup that will take care of any type of vermin that might end up on board while also being a top-notch watchdog.

13. Newfoundland

This breed is probably one of the most popular when it comes to the best dogs for boats for a variety of reasons.

Newfoundland boating dog

For starters, Newfoundland has a lengthy past of being a rescuer of those in the water, making him comfortable and confident in all types of water venues. Aside from that, he is also designed with a water-resistant double coat and extra-webbed feet for easy swimming.

Just keep in mind that this buy guy might do best on larger-sized craft.

14. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The agile and athletic Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a smaller-sized Retriever with one goal in mind — to hunt ducks.

He is an avid hunter who truly enjoys the water, so bringing him out onto the boat for a fun adventure is always a great idea.

Plus, this allows him to get some time in the water, which burns off all of the pent up energy of this active breed.

15. Poodle

Just because the Poodle looks like a prissy dog, doesn’t mean they aren’t afraid to hop on board and splash around in the water.

Poodle dogs are good on boats

Miniature Poodles are ideal for smaller boats, but with enough space, a Standard Poodle is an even better option.

These dogs are cool, calm, and in control, being a dependable, reliable, and family-friendly dog with a deep-seated love for the water.

16. Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog — as you may have guessed — is a true lover of all things water.

Portuguese Water Dog the boater

His original purpose, in fact, was to help out the fishermen in a variety of ways, including herding fish into nets.

Aside from his natural love of water, the Portuguese Water Dog is a spunky, friendly fellow who loves to spend his time on the water with his family. His waterproof coat is an extra special feature that keeps him dry and temperate in all types of conditions.

17. Schipperke

When thinking of the perfect co-captain, the Schipperke certainly comes to mind.

This friendly, agile dog can navigate the deck with ease. His curious mind will leave him splashing around in the water, too, making him the ideal pick for a boating dog.

Dog Breeds to Avoid While Boating

Just as important as it is to find a boat-friendly breed, perhaps it is even more important to know which breeds to avoid.

There are many dog breeds that are simply not designed for boating and swimming. This is mostly due to the fact that they are top-heavy, have difficulty breathing due to a flat face, or find it challenging due to shorter legs.

Some of the breeds that are notorious for not being able to boat or swim include:

  • Pugs
  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Dachshunds

These dogs are not capable of floating and can become incredibly tired while trying to swim in the weather.

You also have to worry about the cold water when it comes to smaller dogs.

Even though a smaller breed can swim beautifully doesn’t mean that there are no risks. Smaller breeds have a tendency to become too cold while out and about in the water and that can lead to potential health issues.

3 Safety Tips for Boating With a Dog

Being safe is key when it comes to boating, and it isn’t just yourself and your kids you should be worried about — but your dog, too. Your furry best friend deserves to remain safe and sound while out on the water.

Here are the top tips and tricks for safe boating with a dog on board:

1. Make Sure Your Dog Has a Life Jacket

Yes, you heard right — there are doggy life jackets that should be purchased prior to your trip. Think about it — just because you know you and your child are avid swimmers doesn’t mean that you ditch the life jacket. These are essential, especially in emergency situations, and your dog should have one, too.

When it comes to purchasing a life jacket for Bingo, consider the following:

  • Size/Fit: It’s imperative to make sure that the size and fit of the life jacket is correct for your dog. The life jacket should fit securely without being too excessively tight. You can get the best measurement on a doggy life jacket by opting to purchase in-store, if possible. Otherwise, go by the height, weight, and breed of your pooch.
  • Does it come with lifting handles? Lifting handles should be a part of your life jacket, just in case your dog needs to be lifted out of the water for whatever reason. Check for lifting handles when buying.
  • Comfort: Comfort is another thing to pay attention to. The straps and buckles should not put any discomfort or pain on your pooch.
  • Is the color bright enough? Color might not be something you think is important, but when you’re out in the water, it surely is. Your dog’s life jacket should be bright enough that it is easily seen when he is splashing around in the water.

2. Make Sure He is Getting Enough Clean Water

When a dog sees water, he wants to drink it — no matter where it’s coming from. But this can be dangerous while boating.

Too much salt water intake can be an issue, while some lakes and rivers can be flooded with harmful bacterias. That being said, bring fresh water for your dog to drink and always discourage the drinking of the water.

3. Apply Sunscreen to Your Dog

Some dogs, especially those with short hair, can be prone to sunburns that are just as painful and uncomfortable as a human sunburn.

Consider applying a dog-specific sunscreen to your pooch to keep him safe.


Boating with your dog can be tons of fun, as long as you have chosen a water-loving, boat-loving breed and follow proper safety precautions. Whether you opt for the Beagle, the Newfoundland, or the Portuguese Water Dog, you’re bound to have an incredible time all summer long.

Related Questions

Do dogs like boating?

Most dogs love boating. Many dog breeds love to be around (and in) the water, but not all dog breeds are good swimmers. Dogs should always have a life jacket when boating. No exceptions.

What is the best fishing dog?

Portuguese Water Dogs and Labrador Retrievers. They were bred for fishing-related tasks, so fishing is in their DNA.

Which dogs can’t swim?

Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, and Dachshunds shouldn’t go swimming. Other top-heavy dogs, flat-face dogs, and short-leg dogs (compared to their body size) should also stay away from the water.

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