Bold and Gutsy (Dock Diving Dog Breeds)

Dock diving is an all-inclusive sport that welcomes dogs of all breeds – as long as they can swim. From the smallest Chihuahuas to the tallest Great Danes, absolutely all dogs can try. Mixed breeds can also enter the competition to beat their personal records, earn titles, and have fun. If you simply want to casually enjoy the sport, you are never confined to the top dock diving dog breeds.

If you are gunning for the world record, choose one of the best dog breeds for dock jumping:

  1. Whippet
  2. Belgian Malinois
  3. Dutch Shepherd
  4. Labrador Retriever
  5. Golden Retriever
  6. Australian Shepherd
  7. Border Collie
  8. Mixed Breeds.

Potential for high-performance dock diving and the dogs’ characteristics are both important aspects. You will have lots of time living together, so their personality needs to suit your lifestyle. Ask me how I know! With two Border Collies and an Australian Cattle Dog in the house, high-intensity activity is always at the top of the to-do list. Thankfully, you can use this guide to figure out which of the best dock jumping dogs are right for you.

Why You Should Trust Us

With three high-energy dogs, I have to constantly come up with ways to entertain them. So, when we are not playing fetch, going to the park, or training, I am researching dog sports like crazy. When my youngest pup, Bandit, showed a true love for the water, dock diving instantly landed on my radar.

Although we have not yet participated, I spend a lot of time learning about the sport and getting ready to dive in. My online research is on how the sport works, dock diving records by breed, and much more. I’m also out there talking to dog trainers, vets, and enthusiasts. Through all my research, I’ve developed a real understanding of the sport. So now, I’d like to discuss the best dog breed for dock diving, the whippet, and many others who are naturals at this sport.

What’s Dog Diving About?

Before we get into the best breeds for the dog sport of dock diving, let’s start with a detailed look at what is dog dock diving.

Whippet

As you browse dock diving records by breed, you will instantly notice the Whippet dominating the charts. In fact, a little Whippet named Sounders currently holds the distance record with North American Diving Dogs (NADD). By jumping an astounding 35-feet 6-inches, he snagged the record from another Whippet, Slingshot, by a mere 3-inches in 2019. Then, not three days later, Sounders broke the record again with a 36-foot 2-inch jump. Whippets also regularly show up in the top 10 ranking for height and speed competitions. If you want to dive into the basics of what dock diving is and the different competitions, read our article.

Although this breed is not known for their swimming ability, their ultra-fast speeds and lightweight build make them excellent contenders. They easily race down the platform and sail through the air, making the sport look effortless. They are highly biddable as well, which makes them an easy breed to work with on learning the sport.

Belgian Malinois

Fondly known as the ‘maligator,’ the Belgian Malinois loves to fly through the air and bite at the target. This, along with their incredible hops, makes them a top contender in the height competitions. The NADD Air Retrieve rankings often feature a long list of maligators in the top 10. And they show up just as often in the Distance Jump and Hydro Dash categories as well.

best dog breed for dock diving
Super jump by Power the Belgian Malinois at the Mid-South Fair dock diving show

With their intensity, smarts, and athletic ability, these dogs excel in dock diving. In fact, they seem to be good at everything they do, from flyball to bite work. Although they learn quickly, their intense drive and high energy levels make them difficult for beginners to train. They can also be a challenge to live with since they are mouthy and have a destructive streak if left to their own devices.

Dutch Shepherd

Although not as common as other high-performance breeds, Dutch Shepherds hold their own in distance and height events. Their natural athleticism allows them to regularly land in the top 10 Distance Jump rankings.

Since they were bred to spend long days herding sheep, they never seem to run out of energy either. They can go and go and go, often needing to be told to rest to activate their off switch. When off duty, and after getting in a lot of exercise for the day, they can easily chill for the rest of the night. This makes them quite easy to live with.

Labrador Retriever

A natural water dog, the Labrador Retriever performs well across all dock diving disciplines. Since they absolutely love to retrieve and can swim fast, they rank high in the speed events. Not surprisingly, Bailee Motter’s, Kaine, currently holds the NADD Hydro Dash record with a 12.213 time earned in 2019.

Beyond their love for the water, labs are naturally suited to this sport due to their ability to learn new tasks quickly and eagerness to please. With their friendly, outgoing nature they keep a calm demeanor during practice and noisy competitions. Better yet, they are excellent family dogs, settling down in the house at the end of a long day.

Golden Retriever

A dock diving Golden Retriever is a true sight to behold. These dogs can leap nearly 30-feet across the water, score well in height competitions, and swim fast. They live to work, taking on almost any task while maintaining their cheerful spirit. With the feathery fur flying along the backs of their legs and tail, they always look fantastic.

With their outgoing nature, goldens are an excellent choice for dock diving beginners. They are eager to please and learn new tricks in just a few training sessions. Although they work hard and are always ready for their next task, they wind down quickly at the end of the day.

Australian Shepherd

Smart does not even start to sum up the Australian Shepherd. They are intelligent beyond compare, taking on new tasks with surprising ease. They are also shockingly fast and powerful, allowing them to reach jump distances of over 25-feet without breaking a sweat. And despite their thick fur coat, they can race through the water to make good time in the speed events.

best dog breeds for dock jumping
Australian Shepherds, Potter and Isis take to the pool

Although they live to herd everything, from livestock and poultry to kids and toys, Aussies can switch gears and learn to love dock diving. They need to see the game as a job to complete, much like herding. Once you convince them that this is their new job, they take to it like absolute naturals. When you are not training, this dog will accept a long hike as a suitable activity substitute. They also love to play in the yard, learn new tricks, and play puzzle games to burn off their high energy levels.

Border Collie

I’m not biased when I point out that Border Collies are one of the best dogs for dock jumping. They are endlessly athletic and always choose to work hard over lying about. And, boy, are they fast! My Border Collies can whip around the yard in mere seconds, making me work extra hard to keep up during a game of fetch. So, it is not at all surprising to see Border Collies in the top 10 for distance. They are equally talented in height and speed, making this breed a great candidate if you are uncertain which discipline to focus on.

Although they have tons of energy, Border Collies are a good choice for beginners since they learn fast and adore working hard. They do need to burn off all that energy every day, which is excellent news if you want to practice dock diving often. After you get them outside running wild and using their smarts, they can settle down and curl up next to you for a cuddle once the day is done.

best dogs for dock jumping
My dog Bandit in the snow chasing a Treibball

Mixed Breeds

Mixed breeds are regulars on the top 10 rankings for NADD, DockDogs, and many other dock diving organizations. They are pups derived from two or more distinct breeds or from a long line of mutts. Most popular are sport-bred mixes, such as Whippet-Border Collies and Belgian Malinois-Border Collies. Is it just me, or do you sense a pattern here, too?

The idea is that the mixed pup inherits all the best characteristics of the parent breeds and none of the less desirable traits. Although this does not always work out, mixes show up on the dock diving leaderboards more often than not. NADD refers to these dogs as “All American,” while other organizations refer to them as mixed breeds.

A Look at NADD Dock Diving Records

Here are all the dock diving records by breed.

Distance Jump

The longest dock diving jump stands at over 36 feet from a Whippet.

Dog and OwnerBreedClassScore
Sounders — Laurel BehnkeWhippetOpen36-feet 2-inches
Strike — Dawn JohnsonMixed BreedLap27-feet 6-inches
Marbles — Bob AtolMixed BreedLap25-feet 9-inches

Air Retrieve

The dog diving record for the Air Retrieve event stands at 28 feet.

Dog and OwnerBreedClassScore
Spitfire — Sydney MackeyWhippetOpen28-feet
Sounders — Laurel BehnkeWhippetOpen27-feet
Marbles — Bob AtolMixed BreedLap19-feet

Hydro Dash

You don’t need a pure bred dog to enter dock diving events. You can see from the table below that mixed breed dogs can be the best dogs for dock diving.

Dog and OwnerBreedClassScore
Kaine — Bailee MotterLabrador RetrieverOpen12.213 seconds
Soren — April PelletierMixed BreedOpen13.120 seconds
Echo — Stacey NestingLabrador RetrieverOpen13.538 seconds

Don’t Count Out the Other Breeds

Although you do not yet see a dock diving Greyhound snagging the world record, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Even a world-renowned dock diving Great Dane is not beyond imagination. All it takes is a love for the sport to achieve greatness.

Similarly, having one of the high-performance breeds does not guarantee the win. My Border Collie, Bandit, would undoubtedly love the sport, but he’s not all that driven to go fast and hard in all he does. In fact, he likes to lope around and take a meandering approach to his tasks. So, while I think he would do well in the sport, world records are undoubtedly off the table.

But that’s okay! Because, above all, it’s about having fun. So, get your dock diving German Shepherd, Yorkshire Terrier, or any other breed out there and see how well they do in all the different disciplines. At the very least, you will have ample opportunities to beat your personal records while building a stronger bond with your beloved pup. And who knows, maybe you’ll land your favorite breed as one of the top dock diving dog breeds.

Where To From Here?

If you would like information on how to get started with dock diving, we run through 5 steps to take in this article.

Author - Marie

With 2 Border Collies (Nyx and Bandit) and a Red Heeler (Ruby). With no livestock, Marie spends most of her time outdoors with her dogs, letting them release all their energy as farm dogs. They are fiends for fetch - even in the snow. Marie has started formal flyball training with Nyx, with the other dog likely follow. Marie is also interested in joining dock diving, sheep herding, and agility activities so that her dogs can burn more energy. All three are adept trick dogs with the ability to wave, shake hands, roll over, sit pretty, walk like people and much more. She has much to share with this community of outdoor dog lovers.

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