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water dog breeds

Which dogs belong to the Water Dog Breeds group?

There are certain breeds of dog that were developed for working in water, either for retrieving game, hunting, rescue, or as fisherman's friends. They just love water, be it the sea, lake, river or actually even a decent puddle! As long as it's wet, they love it. And if the water is deep enough for the dog to swim, so much the better.

Here are 16 breeds listed by the AKC as Water Dog Breeds.

Water Dog Breeds

American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel was developed in the mid 1800s by European migrants in the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan area of the USA. They wanted a very agile multi-purpose dog that could find game birds, point, spring the birds from the undergrowth, and then retrieve them from water or land.

The AWS is a medium-size breed that also makes a great companion, and is suitable for apartment life provided they get enough exercise. They are not difficult to train, but do need time and a consistent approach to get the best results. A rare breed, with only about 3000 dogs registered.

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The Barbet dog breed is also known as the French Water Dog. They are quite rare, the first one to arrive in the UK was in 2001. This is a medium size dog has a dense curly coat from head (including a beard) to toe. As a water dog they were used to locate, flush out and retrieve water birds. The breed was recognized by the UK Kennel Club in 2018.

The Barbet is intelligent and quick to learn. They are very good in a family, especially with children and the elderly. They form strong bonds with their family, and prefer being in the same room as family members. They do not enjoy being left alone outside, or even indoors but in a different room to the family.

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Boykin Spaniel

A brown Boykin Spaniel sitting down on grassBoykin Spaniel

A medium-size dog used for flushing and retrieving game. They are known for their solid glossy coat color, which can range from a rich liver to a dark chocolate.

They are originally from South Carolina, and were bred by hunters of water birds and turkeys. The breed gets it's name from the first breeder, Whit Boykin.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is often referred to as the Chesapeake, CBR or Chessie, and is a very affectionate, playful breed with a distinct preference for family and friends.  Being a bit more wary of strangers, they make good watch dogs and have been known to offer protection as well.

They do not do well as apartment dogs or with inactive owners.  The best location for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is in a home with a decent size yard. They are able to stand the cold better than the heat so most do best in areas that have a cooler climate. 

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Water Dog Breeds

Curly-Coated Retriever

A brown curly-coated retriever standing sideways to the camera, in a grass fieldCurly-Coated retriever

Origins:  England
Size: Large
Grooming: Average
Training: Easy
Recognition:  CKC (Sporting),  ANKC (Gundogs),  AKC (Sporting),  NZKC (Gundogs),  UKC (Gundog), FCI (Group 8)

English Setter

The English setter dog breed is an energetic and friendly companion. They are very active when outdoors, and enjoy a good run. But when they get back inside afterwards, they will settle down quickly, and love being in a family atmosphere.

The English Setter dog belongs to the Setter group of dogs, which includes the Irish Setter, the Red-and-White Irish setter, and the black and tan Gordon Setter. They also belong to the Medium Size dog breeds group, and the Sporting Dog breeds group.

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Flat-Coated Retriever

A black Flat Coated Retriever standing sideways to the camera, looking alertly up to the left

Origins:  United Kingdom
Size: Large to Giant
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Easy
Recognition,  FCI Group 8 ,  AKC Sporting,  ANKC  Gundogs,  CKC  Sporting,  KC (UK) Gundog,  NZKC  Gundog,  UKC  Gundog

According to the AKC,  they are "champion tail-waggers; Flat-Coats are among the happiest of all breeds. They mature slowly; some owners say that they never grow up at all, retaining a puppyish taste for rambunctious mischief into old age. This can be either delightful or exasperating, depending on your tolerance for such antics. This highly energetic breed requires lots of outdoorsy exercise."

Irish Water Spaniel

This breed of Water Spaniel is the tallest on the American Kennel Club's list of Spaniel breeds. It is also heavier than most spaniels, and is on the border between the AKC 'Medium size dog breeds' and 'Large dog breeds'. It is recognizable for it's 'rat' tail, which has no top coat hair on it except at the root, just very fine undercoat hair.

This a breed that loves to be active, and wants to please its owner. Like all retrievers, it was bred to fetch game from water and land and return it to the hunter. They are strong swimmers, and enjoy being in and around water.

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Water Dog Breeds

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador is definitely a family dog, and is great with people of all ages. Their natural retriever instincts make them want to be part of the family. Labs will often follow their owners around, bent on human company.

Their gentle and social personalities make them ideal dogs for families with children. Their eagerness to please makes them loyal to their owners and makes them very playful.

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Lagotto Romagnolo

A white Lagotto Romagnolo dog close up, looking at the cameraLagotto Romagnolo

Origins: Italy
Size:  Medium
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 8,  AKC: Sporting,  ANKC: Gundogs,  KC: Gundogs,  NZKC:Gundogs,  UKC: Gundogs


The Newfoundland dog breed is perfect for someone who wants a large, easygoing dog that can also double as a lifeguard. These sweet dogs are known to be great for families as well as sole owners.

Their social personalities make them suitable for houses with a lot of people going in and out. This breed is not known to be too intense either, making them suitable for most owners.

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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever sitting down facing the camera, against a white backgroundDuck Tolling Retriever

Origins: Canada
Size: Medium to Large
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI: Group 8,  AKC: Sporting,  ANKC: Gundog,  CKC: Sporting,  KC: Gundog,  NZKC: Gundog,  UKC: Gundog

Water Dog Breeds


An Otterhound running across a green grass garden in the sunshineOtterhound

Origins: Great Britain
Size: Large to Giant
Grooming: Easy
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI:  Group 6, AKC:  Hounds, ANKC:  Hounds, CKC:  Hounds, KC:  Hounds, NZKC:  Hounds, UKC:  Scenthound

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is a faithful friend whose courageous and playful personality requires a relatively decent amount of exercise and fresh air.

Known for their athletic abilities and intelligence, the 'Portuguese' is a friendly and charismatic companion that enjoys staying physically active.

Due to their slightly rambunctious attitude, it is better if these dogs get plenty of space to play around in, and they should not be kept in tightly enclosed environments.

They take delight in being accompanied by a human partner during these physical adventures and due to their love for attention, are unable to be left alone for extended periods of time.

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Spanish Water Dog

A black and white Spanish Water Dog standing in a grassy fieldSpanish Water Dog

Origins: Spain
Size: Medium
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 8,  AKC: Herding,  KC: Herding,  NZKC: Gun Dogs,  UKC: Gun Dogs

Standard Poodle

A white Standard Poodle lying down facing the camera, against a white backgroundStandard Poodle

The Poodle is a fascinating and special breed of dog for many different reasons. One of the more prominent characteristics that separate this breed from the rest of the bunch is that they are said to be the only breed that comes in three different sizes!

Not only are all three sizes recognized and accepted by the American Kennel Club, but they are also widely known and accepted by various kennel clubs and organizations all over the world.

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I hope you enjoyed our page about Water Dog Breeds listed by the American Kennel Club. If you think another breed should be included, please let me know, by using the Contact Me link.  Thank you!

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