Can Golden Retrievers Swim?

Can Golden Retriever Swim?

Imagine throwing a ball over the pond only to find out that you can actually swim, catch, and give it back to you. But among the swimming dogs, you might wonder if your Golden Retriever is one of them. So, can Golden Retriever Swim?

Yes, Golden Retrievers can swim, but not all of them like water. Their thick, dense coat with a firm texture, whether straight or wavy, long or short, protects their skin against injuries and could even serve as their waterproof jacket. These physical characteristics of the Golden Retriever’s jacket-like coat could benefit them while they soak their bodies in the water. 

Golden Retrievers are a working dog that is considered one of the top swimming dogs out there. They hunt or took what the hunter shots even if it means that they have to swim in the water.

But were they born to like water, or were they trained to love it? Let’s get to know more about the Golden Retriever and their capabilities concerning water.

Swimming Safety for Golden Retriever

Not all dogs like water, but Golden Retrievers are trained initially to like them. If this is the case, never force them to get in. No one forces you to get in when you were a kid!

Why not gradually introduce your Golden Retrievers in the water? They don’t instinctively know how to swim. For their first few tries, always stay by their side.

Keep their leash on them just in case an emergency happens. Remove it once they could already swim without your assistance, and you can call them on and off the pool, pond, or lake.

As suggested by the Golden Retriever Owners’ Community, you can get them a life jacket. Tease them with their favorite toy to play with. Toss it into the water and encourage him to ‘retrieve’ it.

Praise and encourage him to do the same, over and over until you observe that they’re getting used to it. Praising them would give a point that they’re just having fun and that you are too. 

Observe how your Golden Retriever would react. If he or she shows signs of panic, anxiety, and fear, it’s alright to pause and to cut the training short. Remember, your dog’s health is more important.

But before any of these happens, make sure that the place you’d carry them in is a safe place. This means that there are no dangerous animals such as crocodiles and alligators roaming around and looking for a snack within the freshwater.

You could also check with the management whether you can take your dogs with you for a swim. If you’re aren’t allowed, find another safe place to do the swimming sessions. You can also rent a private pool just for them. 

Of course, when you teach your Golden Retrievers to get in the water, make sure to teach them how to get out of the water as well. Call them back to the route of exit, which is a place where they can safely and easily get out of the water.

Remember the first time you’d try to put them in your car and they got a little bit nervous traveling? The same goes for this. When it’s their first time to sail with you, they may tend to panic, jump, or get wild. Stay by their side and at least make them wear a life jacket and keep them on a leash.

Before and after, give them lots of treats and praise so they can get motivated to continue. After the training swimming session/s, remove the chemicals and dirt on your dog by washing them with clean water and their shampoo or soap. 

Look out for any trash, bacterias, or chemicals underwater and keep an eye for a few days to make sure that no infections and parasites in their body. 

Even if you gradually helped them learn, showers them with toys, treats, and praises but they wouldn’t still bulge in the water, let them be and never forced them to do things out of their will.

The Root of Their Water Behavior

Have you ever thought why are they called ‘Golden Retrievers?’ I mean, we get that they’ve got this soft, thick, golden coats that made them look so gorgeous and squishy! What about their ‘last name’? 

Golden Retrievers came from an ancestry of two water dogs, namely the St John’s Water Dog and the Tweed Water Spaniel or Water-Dog.

Even if you try to search for these and other breeds they originated with, you can almost see the similarities in their physical appearance and skills.

But besides their love for the water, these two have one in common. They fetch or pull nets that have been shot by a hunter. They commonly retrieve the prey on water bodies that could be from the ocean, pond, lake, and seas! They needed to get wet.

So Golden derived from their ‘golden’ coats while Retriever derived from how they were (or their ancestors) was trained to ‘retrieve’ birds for hunters.

However, this doesn’t mean that they were able to adapt their ancestor’s behavior and skills or that it is even hereditary.

Most likely, they were influenced by the environment that they grew up with (especially when their owners train them the same way their ancestors were taught).

For example, the Goldens who’s afraid of water or the Goldens who used to hate water, yet as they grew up, they became more comfortable with it. Genetics doesn’t come into play. The way they were raised and their environment have a significant contribution.

As we tackle about their characteristics, their dense, water-repellent, thick, jacket-like coat protects them from any environment they encounter. And because of this, they were able to adapt to swimming and became very good at their job! 

3 Simple Reasons Why Your Golden Retrievers Don’t Like Water

There are plenty of claims as to why Golden Retrievers hates water, which is quite rare, especially knowing the origin of their breeds.

But it’s best if you know what makes them hate water and fear it so that you’d be able to learn what method works best to make them comfortable with water.

Shall we dive into it?

#1 Bad Experiences

Many experts claim that they might have a bad experience with water. They might have been introduced with water the wrong way. The owners might have rushed them in or threw them up, thinking that they can instantly learn how to swim while they’re still pubs. They might even watch other dogs get drowned or get really uncomfortable with it. 

But who the heck wants to get thrown into the water so that they can naturally learn how to swim or watch others get uncomfortable with it? For many other fearful reasons, these bad experiences made it builds up their tension in the water.

#2 Unfamiliar Situation

Simple as ‘they don’t know what water is’ other than learning that it is for drinking. 

Dogs who grew up nearby the lake or seashore are most comfortable with water. And those who grew up in a dry land where there’s always sunny water is not going to be familiar with water and swimming in it.

You can imagine them asking, ‘how does it feel to get wet?’ They might get a little frightened and overwhelmed at a pool or even other bodies of water. 

#3 Instinct and Personality

Getting into the water makes us really happy, especially when we were young. It is as if the treat is to go into the pool or beaches and have fun! What a memory!

But some dogs have instinct and personality that tells them otherwise. They have an anxious characteristic and aren’t inclined to take their adventure into the next level.

They somewhat feel defenseless in the environment they did not grow up to love. 

But Can You Do Something About It?

Of course, there is! In any problem, there would always be an imposed solution. Some of the takeaways are:

  • Everything starts at home, and you teach Golden Retrievers how to get rid of their water-fear begins there as well. Bring out a kiddie pool that your child, niece, nephew, or little cousins love to play in. You can gradually introduce them with the idea of getting wet and that they shouldn’t get scared of it.
  • In case it’s raining, play with them outside and let them know that it’s okay to soak in the water.
  • You can also try to walk them nearby lakeshore or seashore. Even if they don’t have to get familiar with the water immediately, the peacefulness and cold breeze would be a big help!
  • If you want them to go for a swim, get them on a leash and make them wear a life jacket. Make sure to start on the shallow part just so they can get comfortable with water. But aim for lower depths.
  • Tease them with treats because who doesn’t love treats?
  • Make sure that you are relaxed and that you’re having fun so they can see you as their role model.
  • If you think you’re dog can’t handle it at first, you can bring a companion whether a person who would help you train him or a water-loving dog that can be his best friend!

My Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers came from a breed that retrievers ‘something’ in the water. They don’t have the instinct to learn it because it is a hereditary skill. Still, their upbringing and environment contribute largely to their behavior. Make sure to introduce them to different surroundings, as well.

Not every Goldens love water as they get uncomfortable, anxious, scared with it, or they did not grow up into loving it. But for any other reason, you can do something to make them love water as much as you do!

Related Questions

Can Golden Retrievers swim in cold water?

Our Goldens can spend long periods in cool water and even in hot and sunny weather. But it’s no good if you keep them out for a long time without supervision and their ‘go-to survival kit’ such as the water and shade that can make them survive.

At what age do Golden Retrievers start to swim?

There’s no specific months or age a Golden Retriever (nor any other dogs) should start swimming. But it is suggested that the sooner, the better. Some owners started training their Goldens as early as 16 weeks or even earlier. Others trained their Golden Retriever for about four months and older.


John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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