Water dogs Definition as Gun dogs and Hunting dogs

water dog poodle

This website is devoted to hunting dogs, and a main part of that will be categorizing the place of each of the breeds within the hunting dog types.

GUN DOGS (sporting dogs) are classified into the following 5 GROUPS.

  • Water dogs
  • Flushing Spaniels
  • Pointers
  • Retrievers
  • Setters

The previous blackdogoutfitters.com article discusses many of the wonderful characteristics of the all of the previous gun dog categories.

This blog piece is mostly about defining the breeds that make up the WATER DOG hunting group.

Since this is a HUNTING DOG SITE, and we are looking at the GUN DOG category, of which the WATER DOG is considered a sub category, you might think it would be easy to name the breeds that fit into this category, however like many things in the dog world, there is no easy answer to this.

As mentioned there are five possible subgroups of the gun DOG CATEGORY: Water dogs, Flushing Spaniels, Pointers, Retrievers, Setters. And previously we saw that Spaniels are often classed as retrievers and many pointers and setters fulfill the same function. So in a way, from a hunting perspective, the fact that a dog is in the gun group is more important than what specific section they are put in, within it.

I mention this mainly in this water dog category because the AKC and many prominent breed classifying dog organizations do not recognized the Water dog as an actual subgroup.

The thing that unites and separates the water dogs from the other hunting dogs in the Sporting dog/ gun dog category is their expertise in water while retrieving water fowl.

While water dogs can be retrievers or spaniels they are typically defined as being a water dog above all else because of their strong swimming skills, love of the water and the bird prey in particular, and their water proof, curly or corded coats suitable to long exposures in water environments.

Some of these breeds also have double coats and webbed feet (for better paddling in water)

The words WATER DOG in the dog name usually means that these dogs are central to the water dog group and this preference over rides any possibility of being included in other groups such as the retriever, regardless that of course they retrieve.

Water dogs (and the other sub-categories they belong to)

Water DOG Breed Spaniel Retriever
American Water Spaniel X
Barbet (French Water Dog) X
Boykin Spaniel X
Cantabrian Water Dog (Herding Group)
Chesapeake Bay Retriever X
Curly Coated Retriever X
Epagneul Pont-Audemer (Pointer group)
Flat-Coated Retriever X
Golden Retriever X
Irish Water Spaniel X
Labrador Retriever X
Italian Water Dog (Lagotto Romagnolo)
Leonberger (Working dog group)
Münsterländer (small breed = Pointer, Large NOT AKC recog.)
Newfoundland (Working dog group)
Nova Scotia Duck Toller X
Portuguese Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog
Wetterhoun (no “d” ) Frisian Water Dog


This entry was posted in Gun Dog.