Are Labradoodles Good Swimmers? Complete Guide

Are Labradoodles Good Swimmers? Are They Natural Water Dogs?

Labradoodles are good swimmers. But whether they like to swim or not depends on their individual nature. You might have come across images of dogs swimming with their owners in the river or playing ball in the swimming pool. So, it is but natural to assume the same of Labradoodles. However, contrary to the belief, doodles are not born water dogs. With our Doodle, it’s not so much she needed to be taught to swim, but how early we got her in the lake. Much of her. (your dogs), love of water depends on their early experiences. 

The doggy paddle is a term that indicates that dogs and swimming go hand in hand. What you would do well is to remember that paddling does not equate to swimming and many dogs find it uncomfortable to swim owing to their facial/body structure. When it comes to a doodle, playing it safe is a better option than just assuming that it would know how to swim and enjoy the exercise. 

Why Labradoodles Can Swim Well

Given an opportunity, Labradoodles will most likely live up to the situation and emerge as great swimmers. 

This is courtesy of the two-parent breeds – the Poodle and the Labrador retriever – both of which were bred to serve as ‘water dogs,’ more specifically ‘duck dogs.’ Their purpose was to help the fishermen or the hunters to retrieve ducks from the pond and carry them ashore. 

While the Poodle managed to reach its target through its strategically designed fur-coat, the Labrador retriever works the same by using its tail as a rudder. Having inherited genes of both parents, it is evident that the labradoodle should be a naturally gifted swimmer. As it turns out, the Doodle’s ability to swim does not imply that it would love being the water. 

Most pet owners agree that for a dog to love swimming, it should be introduced to water at an early age, and doodles are no exception to this rule. 

Introducing Your Labradoodle to Swimming

For a labradoodle to take a liking to swimming, you must adopt a step-wise approach wherein – 

  • First, take the Doodle to the pool and clearly indicate how to enter or exit; this will act as a reassurance for most Labradoodles and enable them to feel safe in the knowledge of how to jump in or to step out;
  • Use life-vests for dogs, firstly to cater for the fact that it would support the Doodle if the exercise becomes too tiring, and secondly to enable the Doodle to splash around and enjoy its time in the water without the fear of drowning;
  • Particularly during the first sessions in the pool, keep an eye on the Doodle and immediately end the session the moment it feels exhausted so that the experience remains positive;

Teaching Labradoodles How to Swim

By nature, your Doodle is inherently blessed with a sportive spirit and love for adventure. So, the onus is on you to channel this energy into swimming or some form of water play. Just so your Doodle does not develop an aversion to swimming or water, make a start via these necessary steps – 

  • Always introduce the Doodle to a small body of water, like a kiddy pool with toys, before progressing on to bigger water bodies, like a baby pool, a shallow pond, or a creek;
  • At the time when the Doodle might be learning how to swim, always ensure that it remains in shallow water wherein it can stand comfortably;
  • Play a game of fetch at the shallow end, as this is something that the Doodle loves playing and will feel more comfortable while in water;
  • Never force your Doodle to swim by throwing it into a pool and expecting it to paddle its way out; doing so will only increase its aversion towards the water and might even prompt the Doodle to react through unpleasant behavior;
  • Keep some treats handy to reward your doodle and heap praise on it for having handled the first experience of getting wet and learning to play in the water;

Positive reinforcement is a technique that never fails in Labradoodles’ case, and applying it to acclimatize your Doodle to water is sure to fetch good results. 

Water Sports That Labradoodles Can Pick Up

Assuming that your Doodle has learned basic swimming and is comfortable in the water, it is time to make things a little more interesting by introducing some water sports. Discussed as follows are some water-related activities that you and your Doodle can enjoy together – 

Kayaking – Train your Doodle to sit in the kayak while you take it out into the water. While kayaking, chances are that your Doodle might jump out on sighting duck or geese courtesy its natural instinct. It might also cause the kayak to rock a bit if it gets excited and begins to move. 

Paddleboarding – First, teach your Doodle to balance on the paddleboard on land before moving on to water. Even then, start practicing in shallow water, and only when the Doodle is sure that you move on to more exciting zones. 

Surfing – Your Doodle’s paws should be able to grip the surfboard, and it should also be able to balance. Secondly, make sure your Doodle is a confident swimmer before taking it out on the water riding a surfboard. 

Boating  In a doodle, you can find a lifelong boating companion provided it is used to the rocking motion of the boat and does not do anything to misbalance the vessel. Always keep a life jacket on yourself and your Doodle while boating to be prepared for unexpected circumstances. 

Dock Diving – A competitive water sport requires the Doodle to jump off the dock’s edge and retrieve the toy or an object that might have tossed into the water. You can try various dock diving versions with your Doodle and settle on the one which is challenging while also being fun. 

Safety Precautions for Safe Swimming 

There is a possibility that your labradoodle might fall into danger while swimming, so it is imperative to put safety precautions in place. As far as Labradoodles are concerned, you must – 

  • Avoid swimming in water bodies that have a strong current, like waterfalls, streams, a fast-moving river, and so on, lest the Doodle gets carried away and is unable to paddle back;
  • If it is a natural water body, check for blue-green algae on the surface as it might prove to be fatal for your Doodle. This algae is naturally rich in cyanobacteria, a strain that can cause severe poisoning and sickness to the Doodle
  • Undertake a first-aid cum CPR force in the context of dogs so that you can handle any emergency that is even likely to show up. 

Other precautions include checking if the water is too cold/warm and steering clear of stagnant water as this might be a breeding ground for various contagions. Maintain strict supervision as long as your Doodle is in the water and allow them to take breaks in between.   

Post Swimming Concerns

Ear Cleaning – Floppy that the Doodle’s ears are, they are ideally designed to trap the water droplets which fly around during the swimming session. If ignored, these foster the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi within the ear, thus leading to an infection.

‘Swimmer’s ear’ is another condition that Labradoodles suffer from, and it is indicated by inflammation in the ear canal. Causes for this occurring could vary from any foreign particle that might have entered while swimming or an allergic reaction. 

Regardless of the cause, you would know that something is wrong if the doodle paws and scratches its ear and often shakes its head. A visit to the vet is in order, and it could lead to a course of medications, pain killers, ear cleaners, and so on. 

As a preventive measure, always keep a stock of cotton balls and dog-ear wipes at home so that you can wipe the Doodle’s ears after every swimming session. Be gentle while wiping the ears and exercise caution in terms of not touching the inner ear.

This would ensure that your Doodle remains comfortable and does not feel averse to its ears being cleaned. Our Doodle, when trying to clean her ears, means counting our fingers after we finish.  

Coat Cleaning – Enjoying a swim with your Doodle in the pool, ocean, or river might seem an idyllic way to spend the holiday. What you also need to be aware of is that these activities will expose the Doodle’s coat to chlorine, excess salt debris, all of which would harm his coat in some way or the other. At the end of the swim, the Doodle’s coat will not just feel dry and itchy but also appear tangled and matted. 

Proper rinsing with normal water after every swim, followed by a good dry down, should ensure that the Doodle’s coat stays fresh and clean as much as possible. 

Final Thoughts

Swimming is a great exercise, and Labradoodles being playful and energetic by nature, are sure to enjoy a splash in the pool every once in a while. Introduce your Doodle to this form of physical exercise at an early stage by being gentle but persuasive through rewards and treats. Not only will it ensure that your Doodle remains fit, but also content at having had its share of daily fun. 

So, Poodles and Labrador retrievers are water dogs, but their offspring – the Labradoodles – take to water only when they are genuinely comfortable about it. 


Diane is a lifelong owner of Labs, Retrievers, a Poodle, Labradoodle, and, more recently, a Goldendoodle. She loves dogs and enjoy's taking her Goldendoodle Nala for walks in the woods with her daughters.

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