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Discussion Starter #1
My family had a couple of Golden Retrievers when I was growing up, but I have not had a dog for many years. I would like to have a dog again, and I have a probably unusual consideration: one of my favorite hobbies is sea kayaking, and I would want to be able to bring my dog along. This leads to the following list of selection factors:

-My primary boat has a rear hatch that is an oval about 15" x 12". The dog would need to be able to sit comfortably in that space, so this would require a relatively small breed. For purposes of stability and helping the dog into the boat, the smaller, the better. No more Goldens! My friends and I have only had big dogs, so I'm not aware of smaller breeds that like water.

-I like what my wife calls "long, boring crossings." That means up to a couple of hours between landing breaks. My dog would need to be patient enough not to leap out of the boat two miles from shore due to boredom, and stay in her/his seat, not climb out on the slippery deck. (Of course, I would not expect to do this from the beginning; I'd start with only five minute rides and gradually work up to "real" paddling over a year or two.)

-I live in Seattle, so the water is always cold. The lakes warm up to half-way decent swimming temperature in the late summer, but the salt water is always about 50° F. I never get in the water without a wetsuit! Ideally, I'd have a dog who enjoyed short swims in cool water while playing at the beach, but in any case, it would have to be cold-hardy enough to tolerate an unintended swim (wearing a doggie PFD, of course!) and then a possibly long ride to the beach to dry off. Not to mention that PNW weather is not always sunny and dry!

-Outside of the weekends, while my wife could keep the dog in her office, she probably would not be willing to do so (to avoid looking exceptional) so on a typical work day the dog would have to tolerate being home alone for six hours.

Is there a realistic fit to this set of criteria?
 

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To me, it does not sound like you need to look for a particular BREED as much as a particular DOG. I would probably start at the local shelters and look for something a little older. Like a year to 2.
 
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a poodle could work.
they come in all kind of sizes and they're good with water.
 

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Gonna second poodles. They're highly trainable, many sizes, and were bred as water dogs for bird retrieval. You can clip their coats in such a way where it'll help them insulate even against 50s type water!
 

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The standard poodles were bred for water retrieving once upon a time. Miniatures not so much. I honestly would be concerned about putting a mini poodle in a situation where it may fall into water that cold. Being small bodied, it won't take much for them to get hypothermic once the coat is drenched. They aren't water dogs and the coat is not really meant to insulate or repel water like water breeds, so it's not ideal.

Something like a Schipperke might be better because that type of coat type. I'd have more faith in that type of coat not getting totally drenched, and the dog being able to shake off most of the water once it's back in the boat.

Another that comes to mind is an American water spaniel. They are a bit bigger. Not sure if they'd be too big.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Schipperkes were known as "boat dogs" in Belgium.

Here's one riding in a kayak.
Thanks for the video. It was a bit painful to watch the paddler's technique, which could use some coaching (other than staying upright, so top marks for that!), but it was more than offset by the pleasure of seeing what a polite and cooperative passenger the Schipperke was! :)

I see that breed regularly, but I didn't even know the name. Somehow I'd guessed they were French in origin, so Belgian is surprisingly close. (In other words, I got lucky!) I will definitely have to give them serious thought.
 

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I would also suggest looking into Schipperkes and Keeshonden. The double coat is great in the water! I don't have any personal experience with schipperkes, but can say from my experience with keesies that it should be pretty easy to find a dog to fit the personality you're looking for, they're a great "travel" size, and their biddability is fantastic!

(Not to mention that Keeshonden are also known as The Dutch Barge Dog)
 
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