It is a fact that most dogs don’t like water. However, Labradors are not one of them. This species of dog loves water. It is a surprising fact that they are quite natural to water. Unlike other species of dogs, a Labrador is a natural swimmer. They are both comfortable on both ground and water.
Most people often get surprised to see their Labrador swimming and wonder why Labradors love water. But it is not coincident. The physical do structure makes this possible. Let’s take a look at the history and science behind this phenomenon and understand the reason behind it.
History of Water and Labradors
The recorded history of Labradors can be traced back to the year 1830, in England. However, many people think this species of dog was available earlier. In some research, scientists have found its decadency from St. John’s water dog. In the beginning, they were the companion of fishermen.
Many people also think the name of this dog originated from Labrador Bay. They think the fishermen used to take these dogs at this location for fishing. This species of dog can go down in the water and herd fish into the net. Along with fish, Labradors are also used for hunting ducks. The dog used to go down in swamps and bring the hunted ducks to the owner.
As dog specie, the Labradors are very versatile. They are very obedient and get trained easily. Labradors also have a strong nose. It can sniff things more accurately than other dogs. For this reason, there is wide use of these dogs in the military and police squad. In the airport and other secure locations, this dog can be seen on duty.
According to historic records, the earlier breed of Labradors was black. The black colour is used to help them retain body heat in cold temperatures. The first yellow Labrador came to life in the year 1899 after breeding with other dogs. The chocolate-colored Labradors came to life in the year 1892. Despite their colour difference, all species of Labradors are comfortable with water and they are quite natural to swimming.
Do Labs Like to Swim?
The short answer to this question is yes. The genetic structure of this dog is compatible with water. For this reason, most Labradors do not drown in water easily. In any condition, they can keep their head above the water line and swim quite easily. For this reason, they don’t fear water as humans do. Without much training, all Labradors can swim quite easily.
However, breeding with other species of dogs can eliminate this ability in Labradors. Even though the dog looks perfectly ok from outside, from inside it can be a dog of different species. The genetic factor of other species can resist it from going to the water. Even some time bad experience can also make them hesitant to water.
What Makes Labradors Great Swimmers
The physic of a Labrador is quite different from other dogs like pug & bulldog. Multiple physical features make it more suitable for water. Due to these physical features, even small Labrador puppies (9 to 10 weeks old) can do swimming. Let’s take a look at what are the basic physical advantages a Labrador has compared to other dogs.
1) Webbed toes
One feature of toes is very common in most mammals. It is the gap between fingers. This feature helps most mammals grip any object easily. However, the toes of Labradors are quite different. Here a thin skin works as a membrane and connects different tiny fingers as a web. This feature is very common in frogs. It makes the Labrador legs very efficient paddle and they can push more water easily. Only a few water dogs like German Shorthair, Irish Water Spaniels, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, etc has this feature. Thanks to these webbed toes the Labrador can easily walk on muddy surfaces and swamps.
2) Strong tail
The tail of an animal is not for show. It also has a purpose. In most animals, the tail works as a rudder. So any animal with a small tail cannot steer quickly. The Labrador has a mid-size tail and it is quite strong. In the water, this tail can steer the Labrador easily and help the dog change its direction.
3) Big Lungs
The Labrador has big lungs. This feature gives a big advantage when the dog goes in the water. The main benefit of big lungs is that it works as a balloon and increase the buoyancy of the dog. For this reason, the dog does not get drown easily. Another benefit of big lungs is that the Labrador gets plenty of oxygen. It also helps the dog survive for a long time.
Even though it may appear the Labrador kind of lazy but in reality, the energy level of a Labrador is very high. It can unleash all this energy at the time of swimming at a constant pace. For this reason, a Labrador can swim for a very long time. A high energy level increases its survival chance in water. Labrador is considered one of the best swimmers in the dog world.
5) Double coat
The breed of Labrador was developed in England. It is a quite cold country. As a result, this breed of dog has a fairly thick coat. The fur of Labrador has two coatings and retains most of the body heat inside. The fur also has an oily layer over its fur. This layer works as water-resistant and doesn’t allow the water to touch its skin. For this reason, the Labrador can swim in icy cold water and don’t suffer from hypothermia.
Does it Matter if My Lab Doesn’t Love the Water
Most Labrador lives in the house as house-pet and they encounter an open pool of water rarely. Most of the time, they experience water at the time of bath. In most cases, the owner sprays water on him through a hose. It can cause a deep physiological effect on the dog and slowly the dog starts heating water.
Being in captivity can indulge its natural habit and it can make the dog allergic to water. For this reason, it is a good idea to introduce the dog to an open pool of water. This introduction to water will take his fear off and the dog will get its natural instinct back.
Many Labrador owners often get upset to see their dog afraid of water. It is no right to get upset over this issue. Even adult dogs can win the fear of water if trained in the right way. All is required is little patient and training.
How to Introduce Labs to the Water
Introducing Labrador to the water is very easy. The first thing the owner needs to do is taking its hesitancy away. The Labrador needs the confidence that it can survive in water. The process has to be gradual and step by step. Here are some methods the owner can follow.
Start early: At the age of 12 weeks, all Labrador physically gets ready for swimming. Therefore, it is the right time to teach them swimming. At this age, the owner can put the Labrador in a bathtub filled with water. Make sure the height of the water remains below his head level. It will give the dog confidence that it can survive in water.
Take it to nature: When the dog gets a little older, take it to the nearest natural water body. Beach is one place where the owner can take the Labrador often. Here the dog naturally gets familiar to the water and his fear goes away.
Bait: All dog loves bait and the Labrador is no exception. They can go anywhere by chasing them. Once the dog gets little familiar with water, toss the bait into shallow water. Never through the bait far away, make sure the dog can see it and it has to be in its reach.
Swimming: Once the Labrador gets some confidence with water, take it to the swimming pool. Now the owner can toss the dig into deep water. Before, doing so make sure there is valid permission from the swimming pool authority for this activity. In the beginning, it is better to do this activity in a controlled environment where it is safe for the dog.
Socializing: Another way of introducing Labrador to water is socializing with other dogs. Just like a human, the Labrador is a social animal. It sees and follows other dogs and their behaviour. If other dogs go to the water, the Labrador will also follow them to the water. This method is effective for an older dog that is afraid of water.
Will Labs Always Love Water
Naturally, all Labradors love water. It is in their gene. This love didn’t form in one day. The century-old evolution process makes this happen. For ages, they were companions of fishermen and hunters. Labradors always helped these men in their hunting process. Being in the water is very natural for them and they love it. In modern habitation, a few Labradors may feel uncomfortable going to the water in the beginning, but they quickly get back to their comfort zone fast when the hesitation goes away. Once the Labrador gets familiar with water it will love the water for life. In any situation, it will jump into the water to protect its owner.
Important Tips When You Take Your Labrador Swimming
When the Labrador gets comfortable with water, it’s time to take it for swimming. Here are some tips which will help for sure.
Whether it is a beach or riverside, many places don’t allow dogs. Before taking the Labrador for swimming make sure the place allows dogs. Read the dog-related signboard nearby.
Just like a human the Labrador also doesn’t like high heat. Try to avoid hot summer afternoon for swimming. A heat-wave can give the dog sunstroke. In summer days try to go swimming in the morning or evening time.
Make sure the dog remains hydrated before going swimming. Otherwise, it may drink the outside water of the swimming location and get sick out of it. Carry clean water for the dog.
Avoid deep water
As much as possible avoid deep water and strong current while swimming, unless the Labrador become a proficient swimmer and face these critical conditions. Swimming in deep water can put the life of the dog in danger.
If the swimming location is out in the wild then buy a GPS tracking device. If any reason separates the Labrador, it would be much easier to find it with this device. In an emergency, it can be really handy.
Don’t apply force
At the time of swimming never try to implement your will on the Labrador. If the dog is not going to the water it means the dog can sense some danger in advance. In such cases, following the instinct of the Labrador can be a good idea.
As a dog species, Labrador is very versatile. The dog is known for its courage and bravery. It has a good nose and amphibious body. It can show its agility both on the ground and water. For this reason, it is the number one house pet in the USA and Europe. For centuries people are taking help from this dog when hunting.
Labrador has a natural ability to swim. All is needed is little encouragement and positive reinforcement. The owner can take benefit from its natural ability and train the dog for water. Just bathing the dog with a hose pipe won’t make him ready for the water. Instead, it might increase his anxiety and enhance the fear of water. The owner needs to introduce the Labrador to water in the earlier year when the dog is small. It will bring out his instinct and the dog will enjoy the water more.