The best and worst fishing dogs

Dogs are great companions. Nothing seems nicer than going for a fish with your best mate. Problem is, dogs often have a different idea of a good time. Dogs like to keep moving, keep exploring and in many cases they seek out small animals to chase. Unless you are fishing fast, fishing seems like waiting.

While most dogs, can spend all day lazing around the house, but when they are outdoors they want to walk, play and hunt. So often, taking a dog fishing is very distracting. Luckily some dogs are much better fishing buddies than others.

A fishing dog needs to be good at waiting, not afraid of water and extremely obedient. In most cases, a dog breed for game bird retrieving have the right temperament to be a suitable fishing companion.

I will share my experiences below.


Labradors love water, and are great fishing companions

Labradors make great fishing dogs, they love the water, are obedient and are generally quite laid back. With training a Labrador will quite happily relax on the bank while watching you catch a fish.

There are still some downsides, like I said before. They love the water, and without proper training some will jump in for a swim any chance they get. There is no quicker way to spook a trout than having a dog swim over it.

The other downside is their appetite. Labradors are always hungry. So your lunch in the pack might disappear. I once meet a golden Labrador being taken for a walk, he has quite the reputation of grabbing fish left by anglers and crunching them down. Yes, a Labrador can, in record time, consume an entire trout and not even look guilty about it.

Labradors are among the best trout fishing dogs, but like all dogs they still require proper training.

Standard Poodle

Lora prefers to play in the sand than get her feet wet

Many people think poodles belong in a city, or sitting beside a calf rather than the outdoors. But standard poodles are in fact very capable dogs. In their native Germany, they were raised by hunters to retrieve waterfowl and other games. So it should come at little surprise that most poodles love to swim (mine is an exception, she hates wet feet).

They have good endurance but not exploding with energy. Poodles are easy to train and very patient. So discipline and fitness is not an issue. Poodles are quite happy to lie in the shade and wait.

Poodles coats are quick drying and fairly self cleaning. Another advantage, for the fly fishermen. Poodles’ coat more resembles wool than hair. If you forget your indicator, a little tuff of poodle hair does the job. Although, their coats also require frequent trimmings, and the woolly hairs do catch a lot of seeds.

Standard poodles should not be confused with miniature or toy poodles. They are decently large dogs so they can easily walk across rivers which will force small breeds to swim.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are expert waders

Goldies are not only great family pets, they are also excellent fishing dogs. Trout fishing dogs need to have two personality traits. One is they must be confident around water. Golden retrievers love to swim, Secondary, they must be patient enough to wait while their master fishes.

Golden retrievers tick both of theses boxes. They are also easy to train and keen to please their owners. Just, remember to train them. Otherwise they will be jumping in for swims every chance they get.

These dogs are less suitable for fishing


Terriers show plenty of interests in fish, but can be a headache while fishing.

These small dogs have plenty of endurance, they will happily spend all day running around. But, in my experience they do not make the best fishing companions. As a rodent hunting dog, they are always looking for adventure or something to chase. The slow pace of trout fishing is simply too boring for them.

While they are competent swimmers, many do not enjoy the water. I have owned four fox terriers, out of these only one enjoyed the water… and she grew out of it with age. foxes also have short legs. Which forces them to swim across most crossings.

When they are not hunting, My fox terriers are very clingy. They get upset when not by my side. This is a problem when wading because they will either panic and run alongside the river or try and swim out to stay by my side.

Now, the fight is exciting for them. Sometimes too exciting, one of my fox terriers will even leap into the water to try and hold the fish I am trying to land. That is not helpful.

When trout fishing with fox terriers, they need a lot of attention. So they love being taken on a back country walk. They simply get too excited and require constant attention to keep them out of trouble.

Finally, they are perfect snake size for any coyote nearby. While they will likely bark their heads off, and might even scare some predators away they are still under threat by large predators.

More to come

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