can labradoodles swim
Behavior Crossbreeds Labradoodle

Can Labradoodles Swim?

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Can Labradoodles swim? Yes, you bet they can!

In fact, most Labradoodles love water and swimming can be a favorite pastime.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. So, if you have a Labradoodle that doesn't show any interest in playing in water, then don't force him.

Can all dog breeds swim?

There are very few dogs that cannot swim at all. 

These breeds typically either have short noses ( such as the bulldog, pug, or boxer), or have short legs (dachshund, corgies), or heavy chests (bulldogs), or are very small  such as Shih Tzu, Maltese breeds. 

Even these dogs can be taught to enjoy the water with the right safety precautions like life-jackets and towels to dry them.

Other than these breeds, most dogs are able to swim. Not all dogs will enjoy it though!

What makes Labradoodles good swimmers?

The Labradoodle is a mix of Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. Both of these breeds were originally bred to be water dogs. 

The Poodle was developed as a "duck dog". It was the job of a Poodle to retrieve the shot ducks from the water and bring them back to the hunter. The odd-looking show coat of the Poodle was originally for a purpose. The fur was shaved to help reduce the water weight that the fur absorbed. The odd puffs of fur were left in strategic locations to protect joints and organs from the chilly water.

Next, we have the Labrador Retriever who was also originally bred as a "duck dog" and fishermans friend. The Labrador Retrievers tail works as an especially strong rudder and makes this breed a strong swimmer. 

Since the Labradoodle is a mixture of two water-loving breeds it makes sense that the Labradoodle should also love water and be a great swimmer. 

How to teach your labradoodle to swim (and love the water)

Some Labradoodles will not automatically love playing in water. But there are a few steps you can take to make to change this. It's really all about how the pup is socialized with water. As with all socialization, experiences, playing in water should be positive and safe. 

When teaching a dog to swim, it is best to start a puppy when young (around 12 weeks old onwards).

Giving them just a few inches of water in a kiddy pool is a great first introduction. Even if the pup doesn't need to swim at first and just gets to splash in the water that's great! Be sure to make it fun for the puppy.

It's best to offer the pup easy access to getting out of the water if they need too. Swimming is intense exercise and can wear a puppy out fast. Be sure to keep a close eye on your dog whenever he is swimming so you can make sure they stay safe.

Making water fun is an important part of the socialization with water.

Make it a game. Playing fetch with a toy that will float is great. Start off easy by tossing the toy close to shore and in a spot that the dog can easily access the water. Take cues from your dog to know when he is tiring and when he is ready for more challenges. 

If your dog is swimming in a large body of water or in water with swift currents or undertows be safe and have your dog wear a lifejacket.

A lifejacket can also help to extend the fun. They will slightly reduce the amount of effort the Labradoodle needs to use to stay afloat.

What Water sports can a labradoodle do?

If your Labradoodle really enjoys water then perhaps you would like to try some water sports with him. Be sure to use a lifejacket where appropriate and bring plenty of fresh water for both of you on your excursion. 

Kayaking can be super fun with your dog! It's a good idea to get your dog used to staying on a kayak before you actually put it in the water! Also, something to keep in mind is ducks or geese that may be on the water.

I kayaked with my dog once and he jumped out after some ducks. Ha! He was so surprised to find himself in the water. So, just a heads up. Be prepared for possible boat rocking too.

Like kayaking, you can also take your dog paddle-boarding. This activity requires good balance, so it's best to practice in shallow water with your labradoodle first

Again it's best to start your dog on land vs in the water, and be sure to use a board that your dog's feet can grip on.

Dogs can also enjoy surfing! Again, ,make sure that you are using a board that your dog's paws can grip on. Introducing the surfboard on land is a great idea. It's also helpful for your dog to be familiar with swimming in waves before you start them surfing.

Taking your dog boating can be fun too. Just be sure to keep them safe with a lifejacket and keep an eye on them.

Dock diving is a competitive water sport option for dogs. The basic concept is the dog jumps off the end of a dock after a thrown toy or other objects. There are three different dock diving competition: Big Air, Speed Retrieve, and Extreme Verticle.

Big Air is basically a distance jump into the water. Speed Retrieve is timed, how fast can the dog get the item and return it to you? Then Extreme Verticle is where the dog jumps from the edge of a dock up to grab a toy that is suspended, then lands in the water. The toys are high up and raised with each pass. Check out this video showing dogs dock diving.

Should your Labradoodle wear a life jacket? 

It's only right that we touch on lifejackets for dogs since they can be so helpful for safety.

In fact, I'm a firm believer that all dogs should wear a 

You can use a dog lifejacket to aide in the training process to get your dog to enjoy the water or to keep them safe for boating or other water sport activities. They are also helpful for senior dogs.

Buoyancy is an obvious thing to look at, but it's worth a mention. Some dog lifejackets will have floats only on the top and sides of the dog. This will be sufficient for some, but I prefer the lifejackets that also have flotation on the belly area. This provides better overall flotation.

You will also see some jackets that have a part that floats out under your dog's neck/head area. This isn't necessary for all dogs but can be helpful for some. It is especially good for dogs that have short noses. It will help to keep their heads up so they can breathe more easily. 

Bright colors and reflective strips are a good idea too. This will help to keep your dog more visible to you as well as others out enjoying the water. Especially, boats and jet skis. 

Something you want to look for in a dog lifejacket is a handle on the top. These are sometimes called "rescue handles." They can come in quite handy if your dog falls or leaps off your kayak, boat, or board. You can also use it to help support and guide your dog when you are first getting him used to swimming.

Depending on what you intend to do with the lifejacket, looking for a jacket that has a hook on the back that you can attach a leash too is a good idea. It can be very helpful for walking your dog to the water or keeping your dog on a leash while on the boat or board. Whether you want your dog attached to you on the boat or board is your choice. Use your best judgment. 

Also, look for a lifejacket that is very adjustable. While it's important to buy the right size vest for your dog being able to adjust it to perfectly fit your dog is great too. Be sure that your dog can sit, lay down, and otherwise be himself in the lifejacket. 

You are going to want a well-made jacket as well. One that will last for may outings. You don't want one that is going to fall apart the first time you use it's handle to pull your dog back into your kayak.

Can Labradoodles get ear infections from swimming?

Labradoodles can be prone to ear infections, and excess water in the ear from water sports can cause issues.

Labradoodles can also get what is called 'swimmers ear'. This is not an infection but is actually an inflammation of the outer ear canal. It's caused by an allergy, usually from food or something in the environment.

You'll know if your labradoodle has a sore ear as he will be pawing and scratching it, shaking his head and he probably won't want you going near it.

If you take your dog to the vet, then treatments for ear infections and swimmers ear can include antibiotics, antihistamines, liquid ear cleaners and painkillers.

If your dog suffers from ear problems frequently then you may want to take a more holistic approach. 

I like to use little bit of organic witch hazel on a cotton ball or pad can to help dry out the ears. You can also buy dog ear wipes that are antiseptic and contain aloe vera and eucalyptus. If you get into the habit of using these once a week they can help to stop ear infections and inflammation by keeping them clean. 

It also gets your dog used to touching his ear and cleaning it, making it easier to apply medication if required at some stage. Just be gentle when using them, and never stick your finger into your dog's ear as you risk damaging the inner ear and eardrum.


In Conclusion

Yes, Labradoodles can swim! The Labradoodle is a designer dog that is bred from two water-loving breeds, Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. That said, not all Labradoodles will love water.

You can help to ensure that your Labradoodle does like water with proper socialization with water. And fun, positive experiences with water.

There is a large variety of water sports that you can do with your Labradoodle if you choose to. From kayaking to surfing to dock diving Labradoodles can have a blast at water sports.

Be sure to be safe and pick a high-quality lifejacket for your dog where needed. And keep their ears clean!

Have fun out there in the water with your Labradoodle!

About the author

Emer Thomas

Emer Thomas

Emer has been around dogs all of her life. At a young age, she learned all about caring for dogs from her father, a top Irish breeder. She is now a dog breeder, former champion show dog handler and cup secretary of the Cairn Terrier Association of Ireland. She currently has two dogs, Lady Millie the Border Collie and Alfie the Springer Spaniel. Her interests include dog social training, dog nutrition, and dog metacognitive studies.