Humans can slug a cold glass of water, sweat profusely, or chill in front of the AC. Dogs, however, don’t have it so easy when it comes to cooling down in a super hot environment. Their survival depends on their coat and fur, along with how much energy they are putting out. “Keep an eye on humidity levels as well as temperature,” says Dr. Amara Estrada of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomat for the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine—Cardiology. “Animals use panting to take heat away from their bodies, and if humidity is too high they are unable to cool themselves.”
Not all dogs are created equal when it comes to staying cool, though. If you want a happy companion on your next summer adventure, consider these ten breeds that perform well in hot weather, especially if they can hop in a nearby river.
German Shorthaired Pointer
This is a dog that can do anything—track, hunt, point, pull sleds, detect bombs, and of course, join you on a hike or a run on a warm summer’s day. Pointers vary greatly in color, but are easily recognizable in their instinctual pointing stance with a hard gaze, head down, a lifted paw, and tail up.
They were bred for water retrieving and have a short, flat water-resistant coat that helps them regulate their temperature and also repels dirt. These pointers are great athletes (they love to jump) and have heavy, durable nails to keep trucking through dirt and rocks. Hyper and energetic, these pups need space to play and roam, but live a long life—often up to the to mid-teens.
American Water Spaniel
This pooch is another breed that is perfect for warmer climates and will love the hot months. The medium-sized dog has a stocky, strong build and needs both physical and mental exercise. American Water Spaniels are very vocal dogs and have a unique, wavy coat with curls that helps protect them against water, weather, and briars getting stuck as they run through the woods. Similar to a Cocker Spaniel, the American Water Spaniel sports longer, curly ears.
A great dane might not join you on a hike, but will certainly snuggle up with you. They love to laze around on the couch, the bed, or even your lap and they love to lean on you, but they especially love the heat. “They are obsessed with heat, whether it be the heater vents or the fireplace—they are right next to them if they’re on,” says one owner of two Great Danes, Bella and Gabby. “When it’s 90 degrees outside, they will lay right where the sun is beating down and we have to beg them to come in and cool down.”
These gentle giants are part of the Mastiff family and aren’t actually from Denmark—the breed was developed in Germany. Danes are one of the tallest dogs but have one of the shortest life expectancies.
“When I think of border collies, I immediately think of frisbees!” says Estrada. “Border collies are so perfect for the park in any warm climate.” This breed is extremely energetic, acrobatic, smart, and athletic. Not ideal for apartments, collies need plenty of space and nice weather to run around in. They are one of the most intelligent breeds (hello, Lassie!), but with that, they’ll need to be trained or else you’ll be dealing with a terror of a dog—this breed isn’t good for first time owners or families who won’t have time to deal with obedience.
Estrada says that border collies herding instincts, along with trainability, speed, agility, and stamina, have allowed them to dominate in dog activities like flyball, frisbee, and disc dog competitions. Ultimate four-legged frisbee anyone?
Australian Cattle Dog
Another top herding dog, the Australian cattle dog thrives on change and new experiences, says Estrada. This breed is recognizable by its blue or red color, and often has a “mask” on its face with a dark patch over one or both eyes. They have extremely high energy, which makes them perfect for hiking—even if you might get winded, they never will. Be sure to bring plenty of water for not just yourself, but your pooch, too, and try to take breaks in the shade. If your dog is in the sun for a long time, consider some doggy sunscreen, says Estrada, for their ears and other exposed (furless) areas such as tummies.
This breed is devoted, dedicated, and loyal to its owners, and is considered a very athletic dog. And if you live in a rainy state or have a long rainy season, the Australian Cattle Dog is perfect with its rain-resistant double-coat that allows for water to simply bead off.
These extremely smart dogs are much like humans—crazy smart can often lead to getting bored really easily. The largest of the terriers, make sure to keep Airedales busy with toys, exercise, and running around in the woods, your yard, or a park, but be wary of the shining sun. “Watch out for hot flooring,” says Estrada, “and remember that dogs don’t wear shoes, so hot surfaces like rocks or plastic playground equipment can be really dangerous to their paws.”
The breed is a hunting breed for both on land and in the water, but are still playful and a bit goofy, too, with plenty of endurance for summer exploring. Airedales’ coats make them extremely easy to take care of in hot climates—strip their coat down a bit further when the temps rise, and if it gets chilly in the winter, just let it grow out.
Another popular dog, and one that’s great for families, is the Golden Retriever. This breed was established near Loch Ness in the 1860s and hasn’t yet lost its love for the water—or retrieving. Head to the park for an endless game of fetch, or hike near a pond with this natural swimmer who sports a water-resistant coat and webbed feet.
“Goldens are very smart and social dogs that typically gets along with other breeds very well,” says Estrada, which is important when doing activities where many dogs might be present, like heading to the park in the summer, so that you don’t need to worry about negative interactions. “When I think of Goldens, the first personality trait that comes to mind is an eagerness to please, so they are great at obedience and agility training but also amazing service dogs who thrive in a situation where they are working alongside their owner.”
Be warned that with all the running and jumping Goldens do, they are often prone to hip dysplasia, which needs to be treated lest you want a pooch that is suffering in pain.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Another water-loving pooch, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a large dog that looks similar to a labrador. Vets warn, though, that the Chessie personality is much more standoffish and has a stronger temperament than the Lab, and is also extremely hard to train—don’t get this breed as your first dog and be prepared to spend some time training hardcore. This temperament and will to work lead to a breed that performs the best when it comes to hunting waterfowl, even in icy, cold conditions. The dogs will even use their broad and strong chest to bust through the ice. Whether it’s in the winter or in the summer, Chessies dry quickly because of their waterproof, oily coat.
The state dog of Maryland, these retrievers won’t disappoint with a game of fetch, especially if you’re by the water. Known to be strong, powerful, and a bit intense, this breed comes with a lot of energy and needs space to run around, rather than a quick trot around the block.
Labs are a special mix of toughness and playfulness that can thrive in both cold and hot temperatures, but if you think your Lab loves to play in the yard or roll around in the snow, just get him near a lake or ocean. “Labs typically love anything that has to do with water—lakes, pools, beaches,” says Estrada. “When I think of labs, I think of a fun-loving and boisterousness along with a lack of fear of anything so they are always game for new adventures. Labs are high-energy dogs who never seem to tire and are constantly looking for activity with their owners.”
The breed actually comes from the Newfoundland breed, so the water-loving gene make sense as Newfies are known for being rescue water dogs. Estrada notes that Labs are not only great around the water, but they are also the perfect breed to take running on the beach. Got a bright orange floaty toy and a lake? You and your four-legged friend will be set for hours.
Labs have webbed paws that make it easy to stay afloat and swim for quite a distance, as well as a water-resistant, slightly oily coat and a rudder-like tail to propel the pooch along.They are also great jumpers and can fly off a pier without a problem.
The American Foxhound is one of America’s few native breeds. In fact, George Washington himself bred these tall hunting dogs with lots of energy. A walk twice a day will suffice, though a yard to run around in is ideal. “Exercise in the early morning or early evening and avoid hottest times of day,” recommends Estrada.
The Foxhound’s coat is made up of short hair, which helps keep the breed cooler in hotter temperatures. Don’t be fooled by it’s cute look and pleasing attitude—this breed can often be stubborn, so it needs to be trained, but it does get along well with families and other pets.