Do Labs Like the Water So Much? – Here’s Why

Apart from their friendly nature and excellent temperament, one thing that’s also well-known about the Labrador Retriever dog breed is that Labs like water. They love to play in the water and generally just spend time in the element.

A pilot study has even concluded that water seems to be a positive stimulus for Labs.

But, what is it exactly that makes Labradors like water so much?

The rest of this article will talk about why Labradors like to play and spend time in the water.

Hopefully, it will give you some insight into why your Lab loves water like they do.

The origins of the Labrador

In order to understand how Labradors came to love water as much as they do, you have to also understand their humble beginnings.

The breed did not always start off as well-known and loved by many.

In fact, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the Labrador was officially recognized as a breed by the English Kennel Club.

The Labrador breed comes from a type of water dog called the St. John’s Water-Dog.

These types of dogs were found in Newfoundland, Canada, and specialized in helping their owners with their fishing. These dogs were not the Labradors that we are familiar with today.

In the early 1800s, the St. John’s Water Dog started being imported to other places such as England.

This is where the popularity of the breed heightened. From then, the breed referred to as Labrador dogs, presumably because of the place most people thought the breed was from.

Labrador and Newfoundland are both places in Canada, so the mix-up may have been due to that.

It is interesting to note that the name of the breed we know and love today could have easily been so different.

From then on, the Labrador slowly became known as an excellent gun dog (of which they are still known for today).

The build of the breed has slightly become different over the period of time that it has strayed from its swimming roots. But, there are still remnants of their water-filled past.

From the very beginning of their history, Labradors’ ancestors were already heavily involved in water.

Their history rooted in a lot of working with water and helping their owners with fishing. Because of this, the breed adapted to their work as fishing dogs.

Notable Labrador characteristics

Even though the Labrador has changed a lot over the centuries, there are still remnants of the St. John’s Water Dog in the Labrador we know of today.

Take a look at these characteristics:

Otter tail

As you may have observed, Labradors have a wide tail that is useful in supposedly navigating waters.

Though not very applicable nowadays, especially if your dog is a house pet, the otter tail is one of the significant features that are part of the Labrador’s breed standards.

The otter tail looks like what it is named after. It is a relatively short and stocky tail that will aid in swimming.

However, not all Labradors will have a tail that looks like an otter tail.

Some will have tails that are longer and thinner than what the ideal breed standard is.

This is due to the effects of breeding over time and individual physical differences.

Waterproof coat

If you did not know yet, the outer coat of a Labrador is waterproof. They have a special double coat that synergizes to protect them from the elements.

The two coats work together in harmony to give a Labrador the maximum protection from heat and cold.

While the outer layer acts as a waterproof coat, the undercoat is fluffier and also acts as an insulator.

Plus, the undercoat also produces certain oils that repel water.

It is incredibly interesting to note how the Labrador and its notable features have evolved over time.

Though the Labrador that we see today is quite different from its ancestors, these characteristics are some of those that were passed down across generations of breeding.

Why Do Labs like the water so much

The Labrador is a breed that was born for the water. Their love for water is innate in them and is practically of second nature.

It should not be surprising that your Labrador loves to swim and play in water, considering all the additional physical features that they have that aid them as far as swimming goes.

My Lab does not like water, what should I do?

Given that Labradors are well-known for being swimmers, it can get odd if you see your Lab shying away from the water that you thought they would enjoy being in.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do for that. But, before anything else, you need to understand why your Lab does not like water.

1. Lack of experience

Even with people, what is unfamiliar can seem daunting. In some Labs, it is the same way.

You cannot expect every Lab to just jump into the unknown without apprehension in the beginning.

While some Labs may be naturally outgoing and willing to take the risk with swimming, other Labs are not so.

It is a matter of individual personality and how your Labrador sees swimming at first.

Apprehension and seemingly not wanting to go into the water is likely normal in most cases.

Sometimes, the apprehension and nervousness of your Lab could be because of a previous owner that abused them and instilled fear in them.

You have to be patient in introducing your Lab to new situations, especially when they seem to not take it lightly.

2. Traumatic past experiences

On the other hand, your Labrador could have had some terrible experiences with water in the past that makes them not want to deal with water at all.

Sadly, this is also a possibility and is something that you need to consider as well.

Your Lab may have gone through certain circumstances that you are not aware of, especially when they have past owners or is a rescue.

If they seem anxious to go into the water, there is no need to force them.

To get your Lab to enjoy the water, you should slowly ease them into it. This is especially true in dogs that are unfamiliar with swimming, as this may be what’s causing them to not like the water.

You can start by placing them in situations where they could have fun with water and slowly acquaint them with the idea that water is a good thing.

Of course, it won’t be an overnight process and will take some time, so you will need to be patient.


Regardless of whether your Labs like water or not, they will still be amazing as a companion.

But, if you are concerned about why your Lab does not like water, it may be one of the reasons listed above.

However, that list is not exhaustive, and there could be plenty of other reasons why your Lab may just not like water so much.

In the end, however, it may just boil down sometimes to personal preference. Some Labs love water while some don’t.

You can only go so far to make the water look like a friend in their eyes.

Authored By

John Lab

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