If you’re fond of Labrador Retrievers, then you know anything about them, including how they love to jump into the water! But has it ever crossed your mind why Labradors love water so much?
If you’re curious, then here is everything you need to know about Labradors and their eagerness to swim.
It Is in Their Genes
Labradors are known as specially bred swimmers, which is why it is no surprise why Labradors love water! Many Labs will want to jump into a pool the second they see one.
To add, Labradors are descendants of the St. John’s water dog, which you can guess from the name that swimming is in their genes. St. John’s water dog was from Newfoundland, Canada, and they helped their owners catch fish. This is the reason why Labs love to retrieve and swim.
Did you know that Labradors are both swimmers and hunters? Owners, who were hunters before, bred the Labradors to catch water birds for them. Because of this, Labradors needed to learn how to jump into the water to get their job done.
However, swimming is not a chore for most Labradors. Most Labs grew to love being in water and swimming, which is why your Lab may jump into pools or ponds whenever they see one.
They Have the Right Coat for Swimming
Labradors are pretty much born to be swimmers. They have a lovely double coat that protects them while they swim and is perfect for swimming.
A double coat means that your Lab has two fur layers. The guard layer (or the top layer) consists of stiff guard hairs. These guard hairs shield your dog from dirt and help repel water, which is very helpful when they swim.
The second coat is called the undercoat, and it helps keep your Lab insulated. During the summer months, it gets thinner by shedding in order to keep your dog cool while blocking warm air. On the other hand, it gets thicker in the winter to keep your Lab warm.
Furthermore, their undercoat also protects your Lab from the sun’s harsh UV rays. It will help prevent them from getting a sunburn while they swim during the day.
Another reason why Labradors have excellent fur meant for swimming is that it is short. Their fur repels water, and since it is short, it will not weigh them down while they paddle through the water.
They Have Webbed Toes
As mentioned earlier, Labradors are born swimmers, especially because they have webbed toes.
Although most dogs have webbing between their toes, we emphasize the webbing between the Labradors’ toes since it helps them confidently paddle through the water. It also gives them an extra push while they swim.
They Have a Strong Otter Tail
Labradors have another unique feature that makes them excellent swimmers: their otter tails. An otter tail starts thick and tapers in its round shape.
Accordingly, the hair is parted or divided on the bottom. The strong and thick tail almost acts like a rudder. It helps propel your Lab while they swim, thus making them faster.
Does That Mean All Labradors Know How to Swim?
Most Labradors will know how to swim by instinct. If you have a pool and a Labrador, there is a good chance that your Labrador has jumped into the water quite a few times.
However, if you are not sure if your Lab knows how to swim, you can bring them to a shallow pool or pond. Let them inspect the water and see if they want to jump in or not. If possible, you can go into the water to show them that they can enter.
Can I Teach My Labrador How to Swim?
You can most certainly teach your Labrador how to swim. Some people agree that Lab puppies can start swimming at 2-5 months old. However, it may be best for your Lab and yourself to wait until they are 3-4 months old to be sure and to avoid danger.
Keep in mind that you should make sure that the water is neither too cold nor too deep to avoid scaring them. Instead, try to make sure that the water is not too cold or shallow. You can also purchase life vests for your dog to help them get started.
One thing you can do, for instance, to start teaching your Lab how to swim is to throw your Lab’s favorite toy into the shallow part of the water. Most Labs will instinctively jump in and swim to get their favorite toy.
However, if your Lab is still small, you can carry them into the water if they let you. Bring them into the water until their feet can touch the bottom.
While supporting them by their tummies, you can encourage them to doggy paddle to land. You can repeat this until they learn how to use all four limbs.
Bear in mind, however, that you should never push your Lab nor force them into the water. Instead, give them rewards like treats to encourage them. After all, Labradors love snacks, so treats are an excellent way to teach them how to swim quickly.
On the other hand, you can make your Lab wear a life vest to help them when they want to try to swim. However, if your dog cries and dislikes the water, it would be best not to force them. Otherwise, they may develop trauma and grow to distrust you.
What if My Labrador Does Not Want to Swim?
You have to remember that while most Labs love water, that does not mean that every Labrador is exactly the same. Each Lab will have their own personalities and preferences, which means some Labs may avoid water altogether.
It is your job to check if there are circumstances that evoke feelings of distrust towards water.
Some Labs may have trauma with water and may not want to swim. For instance, they will surely be scared of water if they had a bad experience when you tried bathing them in a bathtub before.
Still another reason that you can look into is that your Labrador may have no interest in the water at all, or they fear the unknown. Either way, they may have never tried swimming before and may not be sure what to do. So, you may just have to give them a little nudge, and your Labrador Retriever might come to learn that they do love water!
All in all
The top reasons why Labradors love water is because they are a breed of swimmers and working dogs. They have the perfect coat, paws, and tails to swim like pros, which is why many Labradors eagerly jump into the water.
However, if your Lab does not know how to swim yet, there are a lot of expert resources online that you can use to help them learn. Just make sure to avoid pushing them, though. Otherwise, they might grow to hate water and not trust you as well.