When you swim in a lake or an ocean you may expect to see some fish swimming with you. If you were diving deep in the water, you probably wouldn’t expect to see a golden retriever diving with you. Swimming dogs most often employ their signature doggy-paddle style with their heads above the surface. The golden retriever in this video is an amazing exception! Come check out a video of an unstoppable swimming golden retriever and learn more about how it pulls off such a cool trick!
What is a Golden Retriever?
Golden retrievers are a very loving breed of domestic dog and are the favorite pet of many households worldwide. In fact, golden retrievers are one of the top ten dog breeds in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia! The originally Scottish breed was a gun dog bred to retrieve game for hunters. Other retriever breeds are the Labrador retriever, the Newfoundland dog, poodles, and many more. Goldens have a reputation of being especially loyal, gentle, and affectionate. As a result, over the generations they have become the archetype family dog. They are also admired for their namesake golden coats and are popular in dog shows.
The domestic dog’s scientific name is Canis familiaris (sometimes Canis lupus familiaris). That means Fido belongs to the same genus as wolves, coyotes, and golden jackals– Canis! Pet dogs are, however, a different species. Wolves are the species Canis lupus, coyotes are C. latrans, and golden jackals are C. aureus. Domestic dogs are thought to be descendants of ancient wolf species. Archaeological evidence suggests the first member of the dog family was alive 60 million years ago. The first members of the genus Canis appear in the fossil record 6 million years ago.
Characteristic traits of the genus Canis are a forward projecting muzzle, a full fur coat, four paws, a tail, and large canine teeth. These large teeth are adapted for a carnivorous diet and must be able to efficiently tear the flesh of tough animal prey. Many canid species have a heavier winter coat that is shed in warm seasons. There is usually little size difference between males and females in most Canis species including domestic dogs. They also tend to form monogamous pairs or packs with extended family.
Are Golden Retrievers Good Swimmers?
Many dog breeds, including golden retrievers, are great swimmers. Despite common misconception though, not all dogs can swim. Dogs instinctively start to paddle when they are put in water but not all breeds can effectively swim or stay afloat. Although there are surly many individual exceptions, some dog breeds that are typically bad swimmers are basset hounds, English bulldogs, pugs, and dachshunds. This is due to physiological factors such as bone density, face shape, and congenital breathing complications.
Golden retrievers have a long history of being good swimmers. When they assist hunters, as they have for generations, duck hunting or the hunting of other waterfowl may require the retriever to swim to recover the kill. Pups younger than three months cannot swim safely, though. Swimming is also a great source of exercise for goldens and is a great way to cool off.
Dogs, in general, are not very well adapted for life in the water. Their limbs and their paws are not efficient at pushing themselves through the water and their bodies are not very aerodynamic. Polar bear paws, for example, are very useful for swimming because their large surface area acts as a paddle. Otters, which are also carnivorous mammals like bears and dogs, have webbed feet that are helpful for swimming. Although dogs have figured out how to swim, they certainly weren’t made for it!
How Long Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Under Water?
When a dog hits the water and submerges, an involuntary physiological chain reaction ensues. The dog’s trachea (windpipe) closes to ensure that the animal does not aspirate any water. This causes it to stop breathing and its heart rate slows. A slower heart rate reduces the amount of oxygen the body consumes, and the dog is able to hold its breath. Unlike the amazing dog in this video, however, most dogs can only hold their breath for between 5 and 10 seconds. Dogs that swim frequently or that receive an award after swimming, such as a toy or a treat, can train to hold their breaths for longer. In the case of this deep-diving golden retriever, the reward of getting its toy was incentive to hold its breath for longer. With practice, the dog became able to hold its breath for long enough to retrieve its toys!
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