Best Dogs For Boats: These Dogs Fit The “Boat Life”

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Dogs have different personalities, which is an essential factor when choosing a breed to join your family.

If you are someone who loves to be out on the water, whether fishing or pleasure cruising, you want to choose one of the best dogs for boats.

While choosing a breed that enjoys the water and can handle being on a boat with you is essential, the most critical factor will be the size of your dog.

You want to ensure that the size of the dog you choose will work with the boat that you plan to spend all your time on.

For example, a Newfoundland dog is probably not one of the best dogs for boats if you spend a lot of time in a kayak or canoe.

Best Dogs For Boats

Poodle

a Poodle standing on a beach with water rushing in

While the rest of the dogs in this list are separated by size, the Poodle can’t be placed only in one group. The Poodle comes in three different sizes the toy, the miniature, and the standard.

When it comes to boating, any of the sizes would be a great choice, depending on the type of boat you are using.

Before the talents of the Poodle were discovered, this breed was a water dog that was used for hunting. The Poodle loves to be wherever their human is.

This breed is both smart and patient, making it one of the best dogs for boats, regardless of the type of boat.

Bred in Germany, the Poodle was used to retrieve ducks from the water. The poufs on their legs and chest were created as a way to keep their joints and bodies warm in the water.

Toy:

· Weight: Five to seven pounds for males and females

· Height at Withers: Under ten inches for both males and females

· Energy Level: Very Energetic – requires more than forty minutes of activity a day

Miniature:

· Weight: Twelve to twenty pounds for males and females

· Height at Withers: Ten to fifteen inches for both males and females

· Energy Level: Very Energetic – requires more than forty minutes of activity a day

Standard:

· Weight: fifty-five to sixty pounds for males and forty-five to fifty pounds for females

· Height at Withers: Twenty-two to twenty-seven inches for both males and females

· Energy Level: Very Energetic – requires more than forty minutes of activity a day

Best Dogs for Boats – Small Breeds

Regardless of the size of the boat that you are planning to spend time in, a small dog is an excellent addition to your boating adventures.

Small dogs are also great if you plan on living on your boat for any length of time, as they don’t need a lot of food or water compared to some of the larger breeds on this list.

Miniature Schnauzer

a Miniature Schnauzer smelling flowers

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small dog that is easy to lift on and off boats but is sturdy enough that he will not be injured while on the boat.

The Miniature Schnauzer isn’t always the best swimmer, though he loves the water.

This makes him the right choice if you are willing to take the time to teach him how to swim and keep him close to you while you are on the water.

Since this breed was initially used as a ratting dog, he will ensure that there are no vermin on or around your boat.

· Weight: eleven to eighteen pounds for males and ten to fifteen pounds for females

· Height at Withers: fourteen inches for males and thirteen inches for females

· Energy Level: Average – needs twenty to forty minutes of exercise a day

Schipperke

This small dog is an easily trained dog that is happy anywhere.

The intelligent Schipperke gets along with people and animals and is small enough to even take canoeing with you.

The Schipperke is commonly known as a “Belgian Barge Dog” as it was bred for barge security and to rid the boats of small pests.

This breed of dog loves to swim and makes a great companion to any boater.

· Weight: Thirteen to sixteen pounds for males and twelve to fifteen pounds for females

· Height at Withers: Twelve inches for males and eleven inches for females

· Energy Level: High energy – requires forty minutes of exercise a day

Best Dogs for Boats – Medium Breeds

Medium dogs are dogs that weigh between twenty and sixty pounds. These dogs are great companions for canoeing and kayaking and are also great on larger boats.

Many of these dogs are great in the tight quarters of a boat that you are living on for short periods.

However, you must be sure that they are getting the exercise they need through swimming and other activities.

Boykin Spaniel

a closeup picture of a Boykin Spaniel

This dog was bred to be on the water, hunting from small boats in swamps.

This little dog is big enough to retrieve and help with hunting but is smaller than retrievers and can sit still long enough not to rock the boat.

· Weight: Thirty-two to thirty-eight pounds for men and thirty to thirty-six pounds for females

· Height at Withers: seventeen inches for males and sixteen inches for females

· Energy Level: High – requires forty minutes of activity a day

Irish Water Spaniel

Any breed with the word “water” in it will be a good choice when you want a dog who will enjoy being on the water with you.

One of the largest spaniels, the Irish water spaniel, has webbed paws that aid in swimming.

This breed was bred to be a working water dog, making it an excellent choice for all water activities.

· Weight: Fifty-five to sixty-five pounds for males and forty-five to fifty-eight pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-three inches for males and twenty-two inches for females

· Energy Level: Average – requires more than forty minutes of activity a day

Portuguese Water Dog

a Portuguese Water Dog wearing a red vest standing on a sled

The Portuguese Water Dog has a waterproof coat and webbed feet, proving that they are built for the water.

This breed is happy to hang out with you on the boat or will jump into the water at every opportunity.

This medium breed was initially bred to help on fishing boats by driving fish into nets, retrieving lost tackle and nets from the water, and delivering messages from ship to ship and ship to shore.

· Weight: Forty-two to sixty pounds for males and thirty-five to fifty pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-two inches for males and nineteen inches for females

· Energy Level: Very energetic – requires more than forty minutes of activity a day

American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is known for its ability to jump in and out of a small boat without rocking it even slightly.

This breed has a waterproof coat and webbed feet making it a great choice no matter what type of boating you plan to do.

· Weight: Thirty to forty-five pounds for males and twenty-five to forty pounds for females

· Height at Withers: Eighteen inches for males and seventeen inches for females

· Energy Level: Very energetic – requires twenty to forty minutes of exercise per day

English Setter

a closeup of an English Setter laying in grass

The English Setter is considered a medium to a large dog and loves to use swimming as a way to use up some of their energy.

· Weight: Fifty-five to eighty pounds for males and forty-five to seventy pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-four to twenty-seven inches for males and twenty-three to twenty-six inches for females

· Energy Level: High Energy – requires more than forty minutes of exercise a day

Best Dogs for Boats – Large Breeds

Many people tend to shy away from large dogs when they plan to spend a lot of time on the water.

However, the reality is that these dogs are some of the best for the boat life.

While they may not be the most convenient to have with you when you live on a boat for extended lengths of time, they can be trained to sit correctly in a canoe, and love to take day or weekend trips on the boat.

Labrador Retriever

a closeup of a young Labrador Retriever sitting down

Originally known as the St. John’s Water Dogs, the Labrador Retriever is an excellent choice for being on and around boats.

This breed is easy to train and lives to help his human.

· Weight: Sixty-five to eighty pounds for males and fifty-five to seventy pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-three inches for males and twenty-two inches for females

· Energy Level: Average – requires about forty minutes of exercise a day

Golden Retriever

a Golden Retriever laying on its back on a beach

Like the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever is easy to train and loves to be around the water.

As a retriever, this breed can easily get his energy out by playing fetch in the water.

The Golden Retriever can also be trained to sit correctly in a canoe or a kayak, making him a great choice if you use different boats throughout the summer.

· Weight: sixty-five to seventy-five pounds for males and fifty-five to sixty-five pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-four inches for males and twenty-two inches for females

· Energy Level: Average – requires forty minutes of activity a day

Irish Setter

a closeup of an Irish Setter sitting in front of some bushes

The Irish Setter is an excellent breed for anyone who has an active lifestyle and wants a dog who can keep up. This breed’s love of water makes him a great companion for anyone who likes to be on the water.

· Weight: Sixty to seventy pounds for both males and females

· Height at Withers: Twenty-seven inches for males and twenty-five inches for females

· Energy Level: High Energy – requires forty minutes of exercise a day

Newfoundland

A Closeup Of A Newfoundland Dog

The Newfoundland dog was bred in Canada as a water dog to help fishermen catch fish and aid in water rescues.

The webbed feet and waterproof coat make swimming an easy task, and their large size means they can brave rough waters to save a person without much struggle.

· Weight: one hundred and thirty to one hundred and fifty pounds for males and one hundred to one hundred and twenty pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-eight inches for males and twenty-six inches for females

· Energy Level: Laidback – requires twenty to forty minutes of activity a day

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

a Chesapeake Bay Retriever swimming in a stream

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is thought to have been bred from water spaniels and water dogs, making it a great dog for any water activity.

The coat of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is waterproof and oily. This breed is easily trained as they are intelligent and quick to learn anything.

· Weight: Sixty-five to eighty pounds for males and fifty-five to seventy pounds for females

· Height at Withers: twenty-three to twenty-six inches for males and twenty-one to twenty-four inches for females

· Energy Level: Average – requires twenty to forty minutes of exercise a day

Keeping Your Dog Safe on a Boat

When you take your dog out boating with you, there are some things that you should do to ensure that your pet remains safe while you are on the water.

Have a Dog Overboard Plan

Dogs can be unpredictable. Even if you are incredibly careful, you might find yourself in a situation where your falls, or even jumps, overboard.

Ensure that everyone on the boat knows how to react if your dog should fall overboard.

Keep in mind that you should not jump in after your dog. Instead, get your boat close your dog, turn off the engine, and call your dog over to you.

Animals, like humans, can panic and drag you under while they are struggling to keep their heads above water.

Get Your Dog a Life Jacket

Even the strongest swimmers need to wear a lifejacket while they are out on the water, and the same is true for dogs. There are many situations that can result in your dog not being able to swim.

For example, they could hit their head, get pulled under by a current, or the water could be too rough.

Not all life jackets are the same, and it is crucial to make sure that the lifejacket you choose fits your dog, is brightly colored, and include some reflective trim.

The life jacket should keep your dogs head above water while also being comfortable enough for your dog to move, lie down, and use the washroom.

Bring Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, and a First Aid Kit

Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to sunburns, bug bites, and injuries. Ensuring that you have items on your boat that are safe for your dog to use means that you will be prepared for any situation.

If you aren’t sure what products are safe for your dog, ask your vet for product recommendations.

Provide Water and Shade

Ensure that you are providing your dog with access to freshwater. This will help to ensure that they can keep cool, avoid heatstroke, and remain hydrated.

You should also ensure that your dog has access to a shady spot so he can get some relief from the sun.

Let Your Dog Get Used to the Boat

Before you plan a long trip with your dog, ensure that your dog has had a chance to get used to the boat.

When on a boat, the dog is going to perceive the ground as moving, and this can be disturbing to some dogs.

Give your dog ample time to get accustomed to their surroundings and the movement on the boat and then start with slow, short trips.

Bring a Leash and Have a Plan for Potty Breaks

Having a leash handy is essential when you are on a boat with your dog. If you have to stop somewhere unplanned or have an emergency or an encounter with another boat, your dog will be better off on a leash.

Potty breaks are also something that needs to be planned for when you are boating with your dog.

While some boaters bring AstroTurf or puppy pads for their dogs to use, not all dogs are comfortable doing their business on the boat.

If this is the case for your dog, ensure that you are planning places to stop to let your dog relieve themselves.

If your dog likes to stop and use the washroom on land, ensure that they are leashed before approaching the land or a dock.

The last thing you want if for your dog to jump off the boat and run away to use the washroom before you have a chance to tie your boat up.

Always Know Where Your Dog Is

Boating on your own with your dog can be a struggle as you need to be in control of your boat and know where your dog is.

Having a second human on board can make this easier, but you should be able to always know where your dog is while you are managing your boat.

Unfortunately, dogs have been lost at sea when they fall off the boat without their owner noticing.

Which is another reason a leash can be a good idea for your dog, as you can keep them near you while you are driving your boat.

If you are an avid boater, a dog can be a great friend to accompany you on your boating adventures.

When choosing a dog to be your companion, it is essential to consider how the dog will fit in on your boat, both in size and temperament.

Another important consideration is how you are going to keep your dog safe while you are on the boat. You don’t want to find yourself in a position of having an injured dog and not having the resources to take care of him.

Resources:

https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/article-library/safety-tips/boating-with-your-pet

http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/newfoundland

https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/chesapeake-bay-retriever/