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Best Dogs For Boats: 11 Great Breeds for Boating

Best Dogs For Boats

Best Dogs For Boats: 11 Great Breeds for Boating. Dive into this guide and discover which canine companions are sea-worthy stars!

Table of Contents

What Are The 11 Best Dog Breeds For Boats?

Importance of Choosing the Right Breed for a Boating Lifestyle

Choosing the best dogs for boats is not just a whimsical decision but an essential one for a fulfilling boating lifestyle. The ocean’s ever-changing nature and the boat’s confined space mean that your furry friend’s temperament, size, and adaptability matter greatly.

If you’re a sailing enthusiast, you know the joy of having your best mate by your side. But not all dog breeds are cut out for this adventure.

To ensure safety and comfort for both you and your pet, it’s vital to pick one of the best dogs for boats that can adapt to the unique challenges and thrills of life at sea.

Brief Insight into the World of Boating with Dogs

Dogs have been human companions on the water for centuries, assisting fishermen, guarding ships, and providing emotional support. In the world of boating with dogs, certain breeds stand out as the best dogs for boats. These breeds have a natural affinity for water, an adaptable temperament, and the physical attributes necessary for a life at sea.

Sailing with a dog isn’t just about having a pet onboard; it’s about having a partner who can enhance your boating experience, share in the joy of the open water, and even contribute to the possibly the safety and functionality of the vessel.

So, what makes a breed one of the best dogs for boats? While many dogs love to swim and play by the shore, life on a boat requires more specialized attributes.

Whether you’re sailing around the world or just enjoying a weekend cruise, you’ll need a dog that can easily adapt to the motions of the sea, interact positively with other boaters, and respond to commands in a challenging environment.

The Key Criteria for Selecting the Best Dogs for Boats

  1. Size and Temperament: The best dogs for boats are usually medium to large-sized breeds with a calm and trainable temperament. A dog that’s too small may be at risk in rough waters, while an overly large or aggressive dog could cause problems on a crowded boat.
  2. Adaptability to Water: Dogs that love water and have a natural ability to swim are generally better suited for boating. Breeds that have been bred for water work often excel in this environment.
  3. Training and Socialization: Basic obedience training is a must, but the best dogs for boats will also need specialized training to adapt to the unique conditions of life at sea. Socialization with other boaters and animals is also crucial.
  4. Health and Grooming Needs: Consideration of a breed’s health and grooming requirements is essential when selecting the best dogs for boats. Some breeds may need more frequent grooming to prevent matting and skin issues, while others may be more prone to seasickness or other health concerns.
  5. Exercise Needs: Even the best dogs for boats need regular exercise. Understanding how to meet your dog’s exercise needs on a boat, especially during extended trips, is vital.


Selecting the right breed for your boating lifestyle ensures a harmonious and joyful experience on the water. By considering these key criteria, you can find the perfect companion for your maritime adventures, creating lasting memories and a bond that transcends land and sea.

Best Dogs For Boats: Schipperke's love the sea

Top 11 Best Dog Breeds for Boating

1. Labrador Retriever

When it comes to the best dogs for boats, Labrador Retrievers are often at the top of the list.

Size and Temperament

Medium to large in size, Labradors are known for their friendly and calm temperament. This makes them an ideal companion on a boat, whether you’re out for a day or on a longer voyage.

Adaptability to Water

Labradors’ natural love for water, along with their webbed feet, makes them excellent swimmers. Their adaptability to water ensures that they enjoy themselves while keeping safe.

Training Ease and Tips for Boats

Training a Labrador for boat life is typically straightforward due to their intelligence and eagerness to please. Basic commands, along with specialized boat training, make them one of the best dogs for boats.


2. Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is an extraordinary breed for boating enthusiasts.

History with Fishing and Boating

Historically used by Portuguese fishermen to herd fish, these dogs have a natural affinity with water and boating. Their history ensures that they are instinctively one of the best dogs for boats.

Swimming Capability

Strong and agile swimmers, Portuguese Water Dogs are at home in the water. Their swimming ability means they can enjoy a dip without undue concern for their safety.

How to Care on a Boat

While they’re robust and active, care must be taken with their grooming and health checks, ensuring that they remain in top condition during your sea adventures.


3. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are a favorite among the best dogs for boats, with reasons that are easy to see.

Affectionate Nature

Known for their loving and affectionate nature, Golden Retrievers make great companions. They tend to bond deeply with their human families, making them a joy to have on board.

Water and Weather Resistance

Their double coat provides water and weather resistance, ensuring that they remain comfortable in various sea conditions.

Essential Grooming and Maintenance on Board

Regular grooming is vital to keep their coat in excellent condition, particularly after swimming. Keeping a grooming kit on board helps maintain one of the best dogs for boats in optimal health.


4. Standard Poodle

The Standard Poodle’s unique characteristics make them an excellent choice for boat life.

Intelligence and Trainability

Known for their intelligence, Standard Poodles can be trained for boat living with relative ease. Their quick learning curve makes the transition to boat life smooth and enjoyable.

Suitable for Allergy Sufferers on Boats

Poodles are often suitable for those with allergies, as their coat doesn’t shed in the same way as other breeds. If allergies have been a barrier to finding the best dogs for boats, a Standard Poodle might be the solution.

Activity Needs on a Boat

Although they’re adaptable, Standard Poodles need regular mental and physical stimulation. Incorporating playtime and training into your boating schedule ensures a happy poodle.


5. American Water Spaniel

A breed designed for water, the American Water Spaniel fits seamlessly into the boating lifestyle.

Designed for Water and Boat Activities

With a dense double coat and webbed feet, they’re designed for water activities. Their natural abilities in water make them one of the best dogs for boats.

Social Behavior with Other Boaters

Friendly and social, American Water Spaniels interact well with other boaters, animals, and family members. Socializing them properly ensures a harmonious boating experience.

Exercise and Play on a Boat

Incorporating regular exercise and play is essential to keep them content. Whether it’s fetch on the deck or a swim in the ocean, these activities keep your American Water Spaniel happy and healthy.

Best Dogs For Boats: American Water Spaniels love the sea

6. Schipperke

Loyal and Watchful Temperament

Schipperkes are renowned for their loyalty and watchfulness. These traits make them excellent boat companions, as they can act as vigilant guards while still being loving and affectionate with their families.

History with Belgian Canal Boats

Originating from Belgium, Schipperkes have a historical connection to Belgian canal boats. Their affinity for water and boating has been cultivated for centuries, making them one of the best dogs for boats.

Exercise and Socialization Needs on a Boat

Although small in stature, Schipperkes require consistent exercise and socialization. Integrating playtime and interactions with other boaters ensures a happy and well-adjusted dog on board.


7. Newfoundland

Natural Swimmers with Webbed Paws and Water Wicking Coat

Newfoundlands are natural swimmers, possessing webbed paws and a water-wicking coat that allows them to move effortlessly through the water. These features set them apart as one of the best dogs for boats.

Gentle and Patient with Family on Board

Their gentle and patient nature makes them wonderful family pets on a boat. Whether you have children or other pets, a Newfoundland’s calm demeanor fosters a peaceful environment on board.

Grooming and Health Considerations at Sea

Regular grooming is crucial to maintain their thick coat, especially after swimming. Proper attention to their health ensures that they remain comfortable and happy while at sea.


8. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Strong and Love for Water

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are known for their strength and passion for water. Their robust build and water-loving nature make them excellent swimmers and a logical choice among the best dogs for boats.

Skilled at Retrieving in Rough Waters

This breed’s skill in retrieving in rough waters sets them apart. Training them to fetch objects from the water can add an entertaining and practical element to your boating experience.

Obedience Training and Socializing on a Boat

Obedience training is essential for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Proper socialization ensures they interact well with family and other boaters, enhancing the overall enjoyment of boat life.


9. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Agile and Energetic in Water

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are agile and energetic, especially in the water. Their playful nature and love for swimming make them one of the best dogs for boats.

Social Interaction with Family and Other Boaters

Their social and friendly demeanor encourages positive interactions with family and fellow boaters. Creating opportunities for socializing enriches the boating experience for both you and your canine companion.

Tips for Training and Playtime on Board

Training and regular playtime are essential for a happy Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Structuring playtime with training exercises on board ensures a well-behaved and content dog.


10. Puli

Unique Coat and Appearance

The Puli’s unique coat and appearance are not just eye-catching; they also offer practical benefits for life on a boat. The dense, corded coat provides buoyancy and water resistance, features that make them one of the best dogs for boats.

Adaptable and Intelligent for Training

Pulis are adaptable and intelligent, which facilitates training. Tailoring training for boat life ensures a seamless integration into your maritime adventures.

Maintenance and Care While Sailing

Regular grooming is vital to keep the Puli’s coat in top condition. Scheduling grooming sessions ensures that the coat remains healthy and does not interfere with the Puli’s enjoyment of boat life.


11. Irish Water Spaniel

Curly Coat and Tail for Swimming

The Irish Water Spaniel’s curly coat and tail contribute to its swimming ability. These characteristics make it one of the best dogs for boats, able to enjoy water activities with ease.

Sociable and Playful Nature on Boats

An Irish Water Spaniel’s sociable and playful nature makes it a joy to have on board. Encouraging play and social interactions enhances the pleasure of boating with this friendly breed.

Regular Exercise and Training Routine at Sea

Regular exercise and training are essential for the Irish Water Spaniel. Establishing a routine that includes physical activities and mental stimulation ensures a well-rounded and happy dog while at sea.

Best Dogs For Boats: Newfoundland on a deck

Considerations Before Bringing a Dog Onboard

Dog’s Health and Safety

Before embarking on your boating adventure, you must prioritize your dog’s health and safety. Consult with a veterinarian to ensure that your pet is in optimal condition for the unique demands of life on a boat. In addition, have an emergency plan in place, including necessary medications and a first-aid kit designed for dogs. Your furry friend’s well-being is essential, and taking proactive measures ensures a successful trip, especially when selecting the best dogs for boats.

Boat Size and Dog’s Comfort

Equally important is the consideration of boat size and your dog’s comfort. The boat should have ample space for your dog to move around and rest comfortably. A confined environment can lead to stress and discomfort, affecting your dog’s overall experience. When you are looking for the best dogs for boats, match the breed’s size and temperament with the available space on your vessel.

Essentials to Pack for the Dog

Packing essentials for the dog include food, fresh water, toys, a leash, bedding, and any special dietary or medical needs. Consider storage solutions that keep these items dry and readily accessible. A well-prepared packing list helps avoid unnecessary complications, allowing you to enjoy quality time with one of the best dogs for boats.


Training Your Dog for Boating

Basic Commands and Boat Etiquettes

Training your dog to follow basic commands is crucial for a smooth boating experience. Commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” are fundamental. Additionally, instill proper boat etiquette such as not jumping onto other boats or people. Consistent training reinforces positive behavior, preparing your dog to be among the best dogs for boats.

Swimming Safety and Life Jackets

Although many of the best dogs for boats are natural swimmers, swimming safety must not be overlooked. Invest in a properly fitted dog life jacket and practice swimming with your dog in controlled environments before heading out to sea. This preparation builds confidence and ensures your dog’s safety in various water conditions.

Socializing with Other Boaters and Pets

Socializing with other boaters and pets is part of the boating culture. Introduce your dog to new faces and other animals gradually, rewarding positive interactions. Socialization skills help your dog adapt to the dynamic environment of a marina or anchorage, enhancing the enjoyment of having one of the best dogs for boats.

Best Dogs For Boats

Conclusion: Best Dogs For Boats

We’ve explored the characteristics of various breeds, along with vital considerations and training aspects that contribute to the best dogs for boats. Understanding these elements empowers you to make informed decisions, ensuring an enriching and memorable boating experience with your loyal companion.

Encouragement for Responsible Boating with Dogs

Owning one of the best dogs for boats is a rewarding experience. Yet, it comes with responsibilities. Prioritize safety, invest in proper training, and remain attentive to your dog’s needs. Embrace the joys of boating with your dog, knowing that you’ve taken all necessary precautions.

Link to Resources for Training and Care

For more in-depth guidance on training, care, and other essential tips for boating with dogs, explore our link to resources. These valuable insights are designed to support your journey in selecting and caring for the best dogs for boats, setting the stage for countless adventures on the water.

By adhering to these principles and employing diligent preparation, you can fully appreciate the pleasure of sailing or boating with your furry friend, knowing that you have one of the best dogs for boats on board.

Resource Links To Assist You With Your Dog Selection:

FAQ: Best Dogs For Boats

What size boat is suitable for my dog breed?

The boat’s size for your dog depends on the breed’s size and energy level. Generally, larger breeds require more space for comfort, while smaller breeds can adapt to more confined areas. When considering the best dogs for boats, balance the space with the dog’s size, activity level, and ability to move around freely.

How do I introduce my dog to boating for the first time?

Introducing your dog to boating for the first time should be a gradual process. Begin by letting your dog explore the stationary boat, allowing them to get familiar with the new environment. Use positive reinforcement and make the experience fun. Slowly introduce the sensation of water movement, ensuring that you are always present to reassure your dog. The best dogs for boats usually adapt quickly with proper guidance.

Can any dog breed adapt to a boating lifestyle?

While many dogs can adapt to a boating lifestyle, individual temperament, size, and breed-specific traits play a role. Research and consult with experts to identify the best dogs for boats based on your particular situation.

What are essential items to pack for my dog on a boat trip?

For a seamless boating experience with the best dogs for boats, pack essential items like a properly-fitted life jacket, leash, fresh water, dog food, a first-aid kit, toys, and bedding. Don’t forget any specific medications or grooming tools as well.

How can I ensure my dog’s safety on a boat?

Ensuring your dog’s safety on a boat involves proper training, supervision, and having the right equipment such as a dog life jacket. Familiarize your dog with the boat, establish secure zones, and remain aware of weather conditions. Safety measures must always be in place, even for the best dogs for boats.

Are there any legal restrictions for boating with dogs?

Legal restrictions can vary by location and may include leash laws, waste disposal regulations, or specific restrictions on certain water bodies. Always check local regulations when boating with your dog to comply with the law.

What kind of diet should I maintain for my dog on a boat?

Maintaining a consistent diet is key for the best dogs for boats. Pack enough of your dog’s regular food for the duration of the trip and avoid any abrupt dietary changes that could cause digestive issues.

How can I manage my dog’s anxiety or seasickness on a boat?

Managing anxiety or seasickness involves gradual acclimation, calming techniques, and possibly veterinarian-prescribed medications. Recognize the signs of discomfort and have a plan to ease your dog’s anxiety, as even the best dogs for boats can experience these issues.

Are there any dog breeds that are not suitable for boating?

Some dog breeds may not be suitable for boating due to physical limitations, temperament, or health issues. Always consult with a veterinarian or dog training professional to understand your specific breed’s suitability as one of the best dogs for boats.

Where can I find specific training for making my dog boat-friendly?

Many professional trainers offer specialized programs to make dogs boat-friendly. Look for accredited trainers with experience in training the best dogs for boats, and they can tailor a program to your dog’s specific needs.

What is the best boating dog?

The best boating dog varies based on individual preferences, needs, and boating conditions. Breeds known for being among the best dogs for boats include Labrador Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dogs, and Newfoundlands due to their natural affinity for water.

What kind of dog loves to boat?

Dogs that love to boat often include breeds with water-retrieving or water-working backgrounds. The best dogs for boats are those that have an instinctual love for water and adapt well to various boating environments.

Should dogs go on boats?

Dogs can go on boats if they are properly trained, equipped, and supervised. Selecting from the best dogs for boats and preparing them properly ensures an enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.

What dogs are used for sea rescue?

Sea rescue dogs often include Newfoundland, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers. These breeds are considered some of the best dogs for boats and are specifically trained for water rescue operations.

What dog do Navy Seals use?

Navy Seals mostly now use Belgian Malinois for their raw fighting ability and exceptional intelligence. They’re renowned for their agility, speed, endurance, and willingness to go for the takedown of hostile targets when instructed by their handlers. German Shepherds are also selectively used as MPCs (Multi-purpose canines) due to their intelligence, loyalty, and ability to perform in demanding situations, though they are not typically considered the best dogs for boats in recreational contexts.

What breed are marine dogs?

Marine dogs can include various breeds like the Belgian Malinois, trained for specific tasks rather than boating recreation.

Are dogs OK in the sea?

Dogs can be OK in the sea if they are well-trained, monitored, and provided with safety equipment like a life jacket. Some breeds are naturally more inclined to be the best dogs for boats and the sea.

Do dogs get seasick on boats?

Some dogs may experience seasickness, just like humans. Best way to find out is start with short trips and observe your dog as you go, then gradually building up to longer voyages. Consult with a veterinarian for preventive measures or treatments if you suspect your dog might become seasick. 

Are dogs okay in the ocean?

Many dogs are okay in the ocean if introduced gradually and monitored carefully. Always ensure safety measures and recognize that even the best dogs for boats may have different reactions to the ocean.

What dog loves the water the most?

Breeds like the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and Portuguese Water Dog are known to love water the most, often ranking among the best dogs for boats.

How do I calm my dog on a boat?

Calm your dog on a boat by providing familiar items, offering positive reinforcement, and maintaining a calm demeanor yourself. Patience and gradual exposure can ease anxiety, even in the best dogs for boats.

How do you keep a dog on a boat?

Keeping a dog on a boat requires proper training, safety equipment, secure spaces, and constant supervision. Follow these guidelines to ensure your dog remains safe and enjoys being one of the best dogs for boats.

What dogs were bred for boats?

Historically, certain breeds like the Portuguese Water Dog and the Schipperke were specifically bred for boat-related tasks. The Portuguese Water Dog assisted fishermen by retrieving lost gear and herding fish, while the Schipperke, originally from Belgium, was often found on canal boats, guarding and catching rats.

Are dogs good on boats long term?

Dogs can indeed thrive on boats long-term, given the right training, environment, and attention to their needs. It’s essential to ensure they’re comfortable, safe, and have adequate space to move around. Breeds like the Labrador Retriever and the Newfoundland have historically spent extended periods on boats and are known for their adaptability to such lifestyles.

Small dog breeds are good on yachts?

Absolutely! Small dog breeds can be an excellent fit for yachts due to their size and maneuverability. Breeds like the Pomeranian, Chihuahua, and the Maltese can adapt well to yacht life, especially if they are introduced to the environment in a positive, gradual manner.

Best dog for narrowboats?

Narrowboats often require breeds that are comfortable in tighter spaces. The Schipperke, with its compact size and history on canal boats, is a top pick. Similarly, the Dachshund, due to its small size and adaptable nature, can also fit well in such environments.

What good behaved hypoallergenic dogs can live on a boat?

When it comes to hypoallergenic dogs that behave well on boats, the Portuguese Water Dog and the Standard Poodle are leading contenders. Both breeds have a history of being around water and have coats that are more suitable for those with allergies.

Is a Schipperke boat dog any good?

Yes, the Schipperke is often considered an excellent boat dog. With its origins on Belgian canal boats, this breed is naturally watchful, loyal, and adaptable to the unique environment boats offer.

What are the best dogs for beach exploring?

For beach adventures, breeds like the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Golden Retriever, and the Australian Shepherd are fantastic choices. They love water, have the energy for exploring, and can be trained to return when called, ensuring a fun and safe beach day.

What are the smartest dog breeds that are good on boats?

The Border Collie, Poodle, and the Labrador Retriever are among the smartest breeds that also adapt well to boat life. Their intelligence makes them quick learners, which is especially beneficial when adapting to the unique etiquette and challenges of boating.

Do boat dogs get sick?

Just like humans, some dogs might experience seasickness, especially during their first few trips. Symptoms include drooling, lethargy, and vomiting. Over time, with positive experiences and occasional help from vet-prescribed medications, many dogs adapt and overcome seasickness.

Can a dog live on a houseboat?

Certainly, dogs can live happily on houseboats. The key is to ensure their safety by providing non-slip mats, life jackets, and a designated area for them to relieve themselves. Breeds like the American Water Spaniel or the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, known for their love of water, can especially thrive in such settings.

Is a Spanish Water Dog a hardy breed for yacht life?

The Spanish Water Dog is indeed a hardy breed with a rich history of working around water. Its versatile and robust nature, combined with its hypoallergenic coat, makes it a suitable companion for yacht life, especially when trained and introduced to boating from a young age.

About the Author

Roger Bann

Roger Bann

Roger Bann, an accredited dog trainer with 35 years under his belt, is the proud owner of a dynamic canine trio: a spirited Shih Tzu, a loyal Golden Retriever, and an energetic Border Collie. When not adventuring on family camping holidays with his furry entourage, he's spoiling his Ragdoll cat at petessentials.guide.

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