Can Golden Retrievers Swim at the Beach? Tips and Safety Info

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My Aunt and Uncle recently decided to add a Golden Retriever fur baby to their family and one of the first places they wanted to take him was the beach! So, I have first hand experience and tips to share when it comes to taking your Golden Retriever to swim at the beach.

In short, yes, Golden Retrievers can swim at the beach. However, it is imperative to pay close attention to the surf, wildlife and know your dog's swimming capabilities to ensure their safety and others at the beach.

Water play is an excellent exercise for your Golden Retriever, but there are risks to taking your dog to the beach. However, the benefits outweigh the risks when you know safe activities for your dog at the beach, the effects saltwater has on dogs, how to keep your dog safe at the beach, and the proper aftercare for your dog.

In this article

Do Golden Retrievers Love the Beach?

Golden Retrievers are an active, water-loving breed. In general, Golden Retrievers love the beach, but each dog has its own disposition towards the beach. Therefore, when introducing your dog to the beach, it's essential to take it slow not to traumatize your dog.

Once you acclimate your dog to the ocean, there are tons of games to play and activities to do!


It is essential to know your dog's swimming capabilities before taking them to the beach. I recommend teaching your dog how to swim in a pool before taking them to the ocean, where the water will be rougher.

Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, you should still think about using a doggy life vest. Using a life vest ensures that your dog will be able to reach the surface if they catch a rogue wave. In addition, most life vests have handles on them so you can support your dog while they swim.

Teach Your Dog to Surf

If you find that your dog is enjoying the water, you might want to try seeing if they like to balance on a surfboard


Taking your dog out on a kayak or paddleboard (with a life vest, of course) is another way to spend time with your pup at the beach. Make sure to introduce them to the kayak or board on land before putting them on water.

If your dog doesn't seem interested in swimming in the ocean, don't worry, there are plenty of other activities to do at the beach.

Golden retriever on beach

Play Fetch

Before you decide to play fetch, check the sand to make sure it isn't too hot. A good test is to press the palm of your hand to the sand for ten seconds. If you can't hold your hand there, then it is too hot for your dog's paws. 

If the tide isn't too rough, it's best to play fetch on the wet sand by the wave crash. The sand is packed more densely and cooler, so your dog won't slip or burn their feet.

Go for a Walk

Going for a walk by the ocean is a great way to get your dog used to the crash of the waves before putting them in the water. Make sure to walk them on the wet sand you would play fetch on.

If your dog is too skittish to walk closely to the waves, you can walk them on the dry sand, but make sure you do so in the evening or early morning before the sand becomes too hot. If you decide to walk your dog on hot sand, use dog booties to protect their feet.

Is Salt Water Good for Dogs?

Saltwater can be toxic to dogs if they ingest too much. Not only can salt dehydrate them, but it can cause Hypernatremia, or 'beach diarrhea". Taking breaks when playing at the beach is important and ensuring your dog gets plenty of fresh water to avoid serious health problems.

Pets MD says, "Hypernatremia can lead to vomiting, dehydration, incoordination, seizures, and require veterinary care." Hypernatremia is caused by saltwater ingestion. The extra salt in the intestines draws blood into them; this causes bloody, mucus-filled stool.

Absorbent toys such as tennis balls or ropes can hold saltwater in them. When your dog bites into it, the saltwater leaks into their mouth and down their throat, so even if your dog doesn't directly drink the ocean water, they can still ingest the saltwater.

When playing with your pup at the beach, it is vital to take a break every 15 minutes or so to allow them to cool off. Bring your own water from home to rehydrate your dog. Bringing a pop-up tent with you is a great way to provide shade for your dog to cool off and prevent them from overheating.

golden retriever running along the seashore

Is the Beach Safe for Dogs?

Going to a beach designated for dogs is the best way to ensure your dog's safety at the beach. However, it is not a guarantee. The water is one of the most significant factors that can threaten your dog's safety at the beach.

You should always pay attention to the lifeguard's flag before letting your dog swim in the ocean. If there is a rough tide, dangerous sea life, or a riptide, it is not safe to let your dog swim. On the other hand, if the lifeguard tower posts a green flag, it is probably safe to let your dog swim in the ocean.

The sand itself can hide debris and wildlife that can hurt your dog's paws, such as dead jellyfish, crabs, and sharp shells. However, there are precautions you can take to keep your dog safe at the beach.

  • Sunscreen is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Make sure to apply dog-friendly sunscreen to your dog's nose, ears, and areas with low fur coverage.
  • Look out for wildlife. Dead jellyfish and Manowar can still sting even if they are dead.
  • Teach your dog "leave it." Before you go to the beach with your dog, your dog should know the command "leave it." This will be useful when your dog is off-leash and in danger of getting into something they shouldn't.
  • Do Not Disturb. Don't let your dog off-leash if you can't trust their recall. Don't let them disturb other beachgoers or wildlife.
  • Socialize your dog. Make sure your dog is not territorial around you, their toys, or their food. They will encounter other dogs on a crowded beach and should be appropriately socialized before being put into a high-energy environment.

If you follow these few guidelines and keep a close eye on your dog at the beach, you and your pup should be able to enjoy the beach safely.

Should I Wash My Dog After Swimming in the Ocean?

It would be best if you always wash your Golden Retriever after a trip to the beach. Salt and sand will build up in their thick coats. If these particles are left in their fur, it can cause skin irritation. Wash your Golden Retriever with soap and fresh water to get rid of any debris left in their coat.

Final Thoughts

The benefits far outweigh the risks of going to the beach. Even if your dog doesn't want to swim in the ocean, you can enjoy the beach in other ways with them. Ensure you follow safety guidelines when at the beach and take care of your dog after the beach trip.