Stinking hot summer? Time for a swim! But can your Lab come with you to the beach or pool?
One of the most common questions that Labrador pet parents ask themselves is, “Do Labs like water?” To answer this question, we’ll need to examine this breed’s temperament, physicality, and capabilities. Without further ado, let’s find out if Labradors like to swim!
Labradors are a beloved breed due to their friendly natures and gentle dispositions. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, Labradors remain one of the most popular types of dogs in the United States decade after decade!
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Are Labradors Afraid of Water?
Every dog is unique, which can make it challenging to make blanket statements about any given breed. That said, most Labrador Retrievers and mixed-Labrador pups aren’t afraid of water. In fact – they tend to LOVE water.
Labradors tend to bolt toward water, enjoying the feel of it against their fur and skin. This breed is particularly attracted to water when feeling overheated or energetic. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see Labs happily jumping into swimming pools during the warmer summer months.
But, of course, this inclination toward swimming can raise another question: Is it safe to let your Labrador swim?
Is It Safe To Let Labs Swim?
If you’re worried that your Labrador might drown or struggle to swim, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, you can introduce your Lab to shallow waters before exploring pools, lakes, or shorelines. Secondly, you can outfit your pup with a life jacket before letting them loose.
However, Labrador Retrievers primarily descend from water-loving breeds. Most of these pups will naturally take to the water and swim without issue. Of course, small puppies shouldn’t be allowed to swim unsupervised, especially in deep waters.
But most Lab pet parents shouldn’t feel concerned about letting their furry friend take a swim. If your pup seems scared of the water, you can slowly introduce them by utilizing plastic kiddie pools or backyard hoses. You could also encourage this anti-swimming behavior.
But encouraging your Lab to go swimming is often a positive thing. It’s also completely natural. Remember, Labrador Retrievers were bred for swimming.
Labradors Were Bred for Swimming
One of the primary reasons why you might allow your Labrador Retriever to go swimming is because they were bred for the water! Most Labs today are actually descended from an extinct breed called the St. John’s Water Dog.
As you might imagine, this hearty breed was adept at swimming. Notably, the St. John’s Water Dog was explicitly bred to swim in freezing waters. As such, most Labs can swim in cool waters for moderate periods without suffering from hypothermia.
Naturally, you won’t want to expose your Labrador to hazardous conditions. However, you might be surprised to discover just how capable your water-loving Labrador truly is.
Many pet parents are also taken aback by just how much their Labs enjoy swimming around, no matter the weather or temperature.
Most Labs Love To Swim
Not only are Labrador Retrievers excellent swimmers, but most Labs love to swim! You might notice your Labrador pulling at the leash every time you walk past a pond or swimming pool. That’s because these dogs are drawn to the water.
Letting your Lab swim could help them become the happiest and healthiest version of themselves. In fact, swimming poses plenty of benefits that are worth considering.
Benefits of Letting Your Lab Swim
Letting your Lab swim could be one of the most beneficial decisions you make for your dog. After all, these pups typically love jumping into the water and swimming around.
However, swimming also makes for great, low-impact exercise. It can also keep your furry family member cool during hot summer afternoons!
Swimming Is Great Exercise
Sadly, large dog breeds tend to live shorter lives. And this life expectancy applies to Labrador Retrievers. Many Labs experience painful joint problems and dysfunctions as they age, some of which can shorten a pup’s lifespan.
Providing low-impact exercise opportunities may help prevent some of these joint-related problems. Water aerobics is one of the best low-impact activities to enjoy with your lab.
Letting your pup swim around in a pool or lake is a great way to strengthen their muscles without putting excess strain on their hips or leg joints. The surrounding water helps support your dog, cushioning their movements.
Labs Can Cool Down in Water
Labrador Retrievers have a double coat that helps keep them warm in cold waters or freezing weather. But this coat can become oppressive in hot or dry weather. Consequently, you’ll want to protect your dog from overheating during the summertime.
One of the best and simplest ways to keep your dog cool is to provide them with ample swimming opportunities. Cool water can instantly lower your dog’s temperature and help them feel better.
Even better, swimming is a relatively long-lasting solution to hot temperatures. As the water evaporates from your dog’s fur, their skin will continue to cool down. Installing a dog pool in your yard could be a smart way to help your dog stay safe from excess summer sunshine.
Choosing a Swim Spot for Your Labrador
Looking for a great spot for your Labrador to get some swimming in? If so, you’ll likely have quite a few options.
For example, you could choose to visit:
- Waterside Dog Parks
- Dog-Friendly Beaches
- Backyard Water Parks
Each of these locations and venues has particular advantages or potential drawbacks. Additionally, some may not be available in your area. As such, the best choice for you and your four-legged family member depends on your location and preferences.
Waterside Dog Parks
One of the best ways to get your dog into the water is to visit waterside dog parks. These are areas around lakes or ponds that are open to pet parents and their pups.
These areas are great for socializing your dog and interacting with like-minded pet parents. Most offer wash-off areas for muddy pups, as well as community-shared water toys. On warm days, you can even don your bathing suit and go for a dip alongside your lab!
If you live in a coastal area, you might also want to consider visiting a dog-friendly beach. These sandy spots are fantastic opportunities for both mental and physical stimulation, as well as dog-to-dog socialization.
Additionally, many landlocked states have artificial beaches that may be dog-friendly. Consequently, you might live far closer to a dog-friendly beach than you think! But, of course, there are some precautions that you’ll want to take before heading to the shoreline.
Before you pack up your pup and drive to the nearest dog-friendly beach, check the weather and water conditions. Algae growth (also called a red tide) can result in unsafe waters for swimmers. To protect your dog from bacterial and fungal infections, avoid these conditions.
Backyard Water Parks
You don’t need to travel far from home to enjoy some aquatic playtime with your lab! If you have a stable balcony or backyard, you could create your own backyard dog-friendly water park.
You’ll only need a plastic kiddie pool, a sprinkler, or a water hose to get started. Naturally, if you have the space for a larger aboveground pool, you might want to choose that option. The deeper and wider the pool, the more water there is to support your dog’s joints.
Still, playful pups will also love scampering through moving sprinkler heads or catching falling water in their mouths.
Help Your Dog Live a Healthier Life
Labrador Retrievers tend to love swimming. This may have something to do with the fact that Labradors descend from a now-extinct water-loving breed, the St. John’s Water Dog. These pups were bred to become adept swimmers, especially in cold or freezing waters.
Letting your Lab swim around could help them enjoy a happier and healthier life. Aquatic exercise puts less stress on joints and ligaments than regular play. Because Labrador Retrievers often suffer from joint-related health problems, swimming could be an excellent alternative to rougher activities.