Best Dogs For Boats

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If you're going boating as a family and you want to take your precious doggos along with you, you need to ensure that you have the best dogs for boats.

Many common water dog breeds like labs, Portuguese water dogs, Spanish water dogs, Newfoundlands, American water spaniels, Irish water spaniels, whippets, and poodles have qualities that make them excellent swimmers and ideal boating companions.

Many dog owners wish their canine companions shared their enthusiasm for boating. Some breeds are happier in the water than others and may adapt well to a boating excursion, while others may become uneasy, require more space, or even become ill.

To help you pick your ideal furry partner, we've combined our expertise on the water with our knowledge of the various dog breeds to compile this list of the best dogs for boats. So, without further ado, let's get started.

In this article

‍Factors to Consider

Generally, many sailors prefer smaller dogs because they take up less space and require less food on board. More importantly, they're easier to clean up after. Larger water-loving dogs, on the other hand, can take anything you throw at them - literally - whether it's swimming alongside you in a kayak, relaxing on the deck, or rescuing a shoe that's fallen overboard!

In addition, the following factors should also be considered while choosing the best dogs for boats:

  • Obedience
  • Adaptability and a calm demeanor
  • Sociable personality
  • Ability to withstand splashes

Choosing the Best Dogs for Boats

While many people prefer small to medium-sized dogs on boats because of the cramped quarters, picking a dog that was bred to be around water is also a good idea. Natural swimmers will enjoy their time on the water and will make excellent companions.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever

Labradors are the most affectionate, kind-tempered, and laid-back dogs you will ever meet. They are easy to teach and eager to please, making them ideal for bringing out on the water. They'll happily sit on the deck while you're mucking around. This calm demeanor makes them quite easy to care for; you won't have to worry about them running away, and they won't get bored. Plus, they love to swim!

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in practically every country. They were first known as the St. John's Water Dogs because they aided local fishermen, and they continue to do so. As long as they can do it with you, these pawtastic fur babies are happy.

It is not uncommon to see a lab standing in front of a yacht or speedboat, keeping an eye out for birds and dolphins, or leaping off to go for a dog paddle. His webbed toes, otter tail with a rudder, and waterproof coat make him a popular boat dog. The lab is also an extremely bright dog, with an almost unrivaled ability to respond to teaching. They are known for their devotion and steadfastness, as well as their love for the water, which is understandable given that their original job was to retrieve fishing nets from the sea off the coast. They are also extremely bright and adaptable, allowing them to be trained to perform various tasks. It's a great pick because of its manageable size (25 to 34 kg) and unrivaled enthusiasm for loyalty and faithful service.



The Newfie is a large water dog breed that is well-known. Newfoundlands have traditionally been employed as water dogs, but if you have the space, they're also a terrific choice for sailors and boaters. These massive dogs were built to swim and were used as working dogs for everything from pulling nets to bringing in tow lines and saving lives. Their pleasant nature makes them excellent sailing companions.

Newfoundlands are a huge breed that was originally bred to haul in fishnets and other heavy equipment. They are known for their efforts in water rescue due to their strength and ability to swim. This massive furball was used in Canada to assist Canadian fishers in catching stray fish. They were also employed in rescues in the water. They can easily save a drowning victim in choppy waters, and their thick waterproof coat and webbed feet make swimming a breeze.

These canines are known for their swimming prowess. They also do water rescues, swimming out life rings to save those who are in trouble in the water. This dog has a wonderful temperament and would make an excellent family pet. Therefore, when it comes to choosing the best dogs for boats, Newfoundlands are a top choice for many sailors.

The Newfoundland is a sweet and friendly dog breed that makes an excellent companion. Because these dogs have a natural instinct to guard and aid people, they make excellent service dogs and family companions. They're skilled and diligent dogs that work well on both land and water. This breed usually gets along well with children; however, a Newfie may be unaware of its own size, so they have the potential to accidentally knock over a toddler.

The sweet and intelligent Newfoundland expresses its amiability and friendliness toward humans. It is considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, and as a result, it is easy to teach and enjoys working with humans.

The Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dogs are medium-sized dogs renowned for their strong and daring character. They are tough and feisty. They can be aggressive and belligerent at times, but with the appropriate training and socialization, they can be terrific boat companions.  They were once used to force fish into fishermen's nets, retrieve lost equipment and nets, and transport messages from ship to ship or ship to land.

They are perfect for sailors since they are full of energy and have a can-do attitude that allows them to easily hop on and off a boat. Their coat is easy to clean and dries rapidly, which is an added plus!

These dogs love to play in the water, so it's no surprise that they're a favorite sailing companion for many. The medium-sized dogs, also known as Porties, have a wavy or curly coat that sheds little but needs to be combed twice a week and trimmed on a regular basis.

Porties are built for swimming; they have a thick, waterproof coat, webbed feet, and they navigate by using their tails as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog is a genuine lover of all things in the water, as you may have imagined. They are feisty and amiable creatures who enjoy spending time on the water with their family, aside from their innate love of water.

The Spanish Water Dog

Spanish Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog

The Spanish Water Dog was bred to retrieve waterfowl and is also a water-based working dog. Their distinctive curly hair helps them float in the water while also allowing them to cool off more effectively. This adaptation is suitable to their traditional role as sheepherders. They're wonderful to have around because of their herding nature, which means they're full of energy and hyper-intelligent. Just make sure they get plenty of exercise before taking them sailing.

The Spanish water dog, as the name suggests, was born to be on the sea. They take up less space and don't panic when they're exposed to different boating activities. They're famed for their ability to jump into and out of a small boat without causing it to rock, and they'll even assist you in catching fish. A high-energy breed with a strong herding instinct, the Spanish Water Dog is a fantastic fishing companion.

The American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel, another curly-coated breed, is an excellent swimmer. This dog's main job was retrieving ducks from boats. Her compact size allows her to slip easily into a canoe, so she won't take up too much room on your houseboat!

This is a high-energy breed that requires a lot of exercise and play and gets along well with other members of the household. Just make sure she's well-groomed. Brush her at least three times a week, just like the Portuguese Water Dog. The American Water Spaniel's ability to jump into and out of a tiny boat without even slightly shaking it is legendary. Because of its waterproof coat and webbed feet, this breed is an excellent choice for any form of sailing or boating.



The term Poodle is thought to have originated from the German words 'pudeln', which means puddle or splash in mud, and 'pudelnass,' which means wet. Poodles are known for their love of water, and the majority of them live up to their moniker. They are exceptionally active dogs that were traditionally used as water retrievers. Swimming, thankfully, is an excellent exercise that they love and can never get tired of!

Poodles are intelligent, making it easier for them to adjust to life on the sea as well as at home. They are generally peaceful and amiable canines that are available in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. If you're short on room and prefer a smaller breed, the miniature is a suitable option.

Did you know that standard poodles were once water dogs? The standards were bred in Germany to retrieve ducks from bodies of water, and the beautiful trim around the legs and chest is thought to have arisen as a technique to keep the dog's joints and body warm in the water. Any size Poodle can be used as a boat dog, depending on the size of your boat, but the miniature, which is larger than the toy but smaller than the standard, may be the most suitable. Poodles are natural swimmers and wonderful aquatic companions. They are smart and simple to train.

They like being in the company of their owners, get along with everyone, are smarter than most other dogs, and are very patient. These poochies are ideal for all kinds of activities. They are all excellent swimmers, whether toy, tiny, or standard. You should have little issue teaching a poodle because they are highly intelligent and eager to learn as long – as long as you don't let them steer the boat (tiny paws and all).

The Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Water Spaniel

The slender, rat-like tail and curly, waterproof coat distinguish the Irish Water Spaniel from other spaniels. They're sporting dogs who thrive in an active lifestyle, whether it's hiking, sprinting beside a bike, or swimming in the surf. Your Irish Water Spaniel will be calm and docile if he or she gets enough exercise before getting on the boat. This is a breed that wants to succeed and will work hard to reach your goals, so if you can give them clear instructions and provide the necessary training time, they can become one of the best dogs for boats.

These dogs are versatile and suitable for just about any size craft, from a kayak to a mega-yacht. They usually enjoy any activity that involves being wet, as their name suggests. Plan to comb and brush their curly brown coat two to three times a week, and if they go for a swim, give them a good rinse with fresh water afterward. They are usually very amiable and can be trained easily. This, combined with their unquenchable desire to be in the water, would make them an excellent companion for a family that loves to boat often or sail. However, keep in mind that this dog's curly coat necessitates a lot of upkeep.



Whippets have been known to get along swimmingly with boats, despite being one of the less obvious breeds for sailors. The whippet's slim, agile frame makes it an ideal boating companion, and their glossy coats dry quickly.

Whippets are created to sprint fast for brief periods of time, then relax and enjoy the rest of their lives. Whippets are great for sailors who need a quiet pet on board; all they need is a quick burst of running and retrieving on the beach, and they should be OK for the journey. They also don't bark very often, which is a huge benefit!

The whippet is a powerful, athletic dog with a slender body. They are built for speed and work, balancing muscular strength and power with grace and elegance. Whippets are a good choice for people who want to engage their dogs in a variety of boating activities. They make excellent therapy and psychiatric service dogs due to their mild and friendly personalities.

Whippets enjoy being near you and even want to cuddle with you while sleeping. They are non-aggressive and gentle. Like all sighthounds, whippets love chasing everything that moves, including the neighborhood cats. They get along well with cats and dogs in the home and are gentle with children.

The whippet is one of the most obedient hounds. They're also the most outgoing, enjoying hugging and playing with their loved ones. Family members are the only ones who receive their undivided attention, which implies that they are not exactly social butterflies if that's what you're looking for. Whippets are a sensitive breed that is connected to their family and dislikes being removed or neglected.

While the whippet is one of the quickest dog breeds, capable of speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, if given proper exercise, they are not rowdy animals. Nothing makes Whippets happier than cuddling up on the couch with their family after a day of running and playing in the yard. This slim dog has a keen eye and can quickly overtake small prey. They need a securely fenced yard and leash walks to avoid bolting when they see squirrels in the area. Overall, whippets can be excellent canine companions for boating.