Some dogs have an innate love of water and, with patience, can be trained to be excellent fishing companions…and there are other mutts, incredibly annoying four legged fur balls whose presence on the riverbank is a blight on your day.
If you like a hound for company, here are five breeds which, with the right instruction, will enjoy a day’s fishing without driving you and your fellow anglers to distraction.
1. Standard Poodle
Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, the poodle gets its name from the German word pudeln, “to splash in water.” Poodles are still used as hunting and retrieving dogs, their famous “poodle cut”, an 18th century invention designed to make them more buoyant.
Standard Poodles love to impress their human families and get along well with children and other dogs. Intelligent animals, they’re protective, love to be trained, and often excel at dog sports.
A big-hearted dog that’s gentle, protective and loves children, Newfoundlands also have an affinity with water that makes them excellent angling companions.
In J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan, ‘Nana’ is the Newfoundland employed by the Darling family to look after the children. In reality, Newfoundlands were a tough working dog bred to help fishermen by hauling nets, towing mooring lines and moving loads by cart.
With their double-layered coat, webbed feet and immense strength, Newfoundlands are superb swimmers which are also known for their courage and determination. One Newfoundland called Whizz was recently posthumously awarded an OBE for saving the lives of nine people during its lifetime.
3. Portuguese Water Dog
Remember Bo and Sunny, the Obamas’ White House pets? Portuguese Water Dogs weren’t originally bred for high office, but for herding shoals of fish into nets.
Portuguese Water Dogs also retrieved lost fishing gear and acted as boat-to-boat couriers, carrying messages between fishermen.
Closely related to the standard poodle, this intelligent breed has webbed toes for swimming, strong legs and a wavy coat that repels water. Portuguese Water Dogs are content to stay close to their masters and can be trained to follow complex commands.
4. Labrador Retriever
The modern Labrador Retriever is a descendent of the St John’s Water Dog, a Newfoundland breed famous for its swimming and retrieval abilities. Benefiting from a dense coat that repels water and keeps it warm, the modern Labrador is the UK’s most popular family dog.
A Labrador’s soft mouth means it can be trained to retrieve fowl and fish, and because it’s intuitive and responsive to body language and hand signals, giving your Lab’ orders needn’t disturb your fellow anglers.
Labradors can sometimes be very intense around water, but you can avoid this by beginning their water training while they’re young.
5. English Setter
English Setters were originally bred as bird dogs to point and retrieve game on English moors. Known for being affectionate, gentle, intelligent and social, they excel at a wide variety of tasks including pointing, retrieving and tracking.
These beautiful water-loving dogs mellow from about the age of three years and love human company. In fact, even more than most dogs, English Setters need to be with people and part of their owners’ daily lives.
An ideal dog for those looking for companionship and affection, your English Setter will love you even if you never catch a thing.