Canoeing with dogs

I’m looking for a used canoe to get started canoeing with my two large dogs who love the water. They are 75 and 85 pounds. I am about 180 pounds. I have done some canoeing in the past (but not much) on a local river. At that time I rented from a livery service but I couldn’t tell you the makes or models I’ve paddled. They seemed pretty generic but the dogs were fine in them.

I see in Ohio there is a Mad River Courier and a Mad River Slipper for sale. Can anyone advise me about whether these would be a good choice for my intended usage? My budget is flexible, however I don’t wish to spend a lot of money until I know more about the subject matter so I would like to start out with something used, under $1000.

Suggestions are welcome. If you need more information feel free to ask. Thank you in advance.

Mark J.


– Last Updated: Jun-07-08 7:53 PM EST –

You have yourself listed as a beginner.
You are talking about paddling with 2 dogs that weigh a total of 160 pounds(the weight of another adult paddler). You don't say how well they behave while in a canoe?

I'm not a beginner; I don't paddle with 2 dogs, but I do own & paddle a Courier, and I know how it behaves.

I think the Courier would be "OK" paddling with one dog if it was well behaved, but I don't think it is an "ideal" boat for that. I have a good friend who paddles a MR Guide(very similiar to the Courier) with one (smaller) dog & does just fine. It is my opinion that the Courier would "most certainly be less than ideal" with two dogs with a combined weight of 160 pounds. The Courier could haul the load, but I don't know if you could keep the Courier upright, especially if the dogs are not well behaved.

I think you would have the same problems in a Mad River Slipper; the problems would probably be worse(27/28 inch width, and 11" center depth)in the Slipper.

I think you can find something more suitable for your purpose. I think a used, 16 foot tandem boat might be a better choice. Perhaps an Old Town Penobscot 16. A smaller Old Town canoe that would serve the purpose, if you could find one, is the Old Town (14'10")Pathfinder. Used price for either should be well "under" a thousand bucks. Check out the product reviews.


More information
I am not a total beginner but wasn’t sure of the criteria for an intermediate ranking.

My dogs are obedience trained, they behave reasonably well but not always. They do like to jump out of the boat on occasion, which causes it to rock and almost tip over but we haven’t had a total capsize yet. Then they swim to shore, I paddle to shore, they get back in and we do the whole thing again another mile or two down river.

I cannot remember the model name of the livery canoe but I think it was aluminum, if that helps at all. Really, a “beater” canoe would probably be fine for now.

Thanks for the advice, I will rule out the ones for sale here in Ohio and keep an eye out for what you mentioned.

If the boats you mentioned are reasonably close to you, I wouldn’t rule them out completely. If they’re real close; a test paddle might be worthwhile?

I certainly think you should be prepared to check out some other models. Hopefully, you will get some other’s suggestions, and advice.

If you’ve been paddling aluminum, livery canoes; I’d be willing to bet they are at least 16 footers, and maybe even 17 footers. If your dogs moving about can almost cause one of them to capsize; imagine what they can do in canoes that aren’t even 15 footers…


Check out Bass pro Shop in …
… Cincinnati , 513-826-5200 , Old Town canoes should be in their camping dept. The Expedition 169 (it is the 16’-9" Discovery) should go for around $650. there .

With the Expedition 169 you’ll get a brand new canoe for a great price from them . It’s long , it’s wide , it’s very stable , it’s tough , paddles easy with load , and you will appreciate it in big rough water too . It weighs 85 lbs. and is Superlink 3 hull construction , good stuff !!

As for the big dogs jumping out of it , you’re on your own there , but this one should give you one of the best outcomes .

The near capsizes
are just when the dogs are actually jumping out of the boat, it rocks back and forth precariously for a second or two. When we are paddling along normally the livery boat felt stable enough with the dogs moving around a little. That is why I havent’ ever gone too far from shore.

Thanks for the suggestion
I will check out Bass Pro Shop, I think I know where one is. I am looking for something thats maybe not lightweight exactly, but not heavy. I think 55-60 pounds is about the heaviest I would consider which is why I am willing to spend a little bit more. I can see from the websites I have visited that often times more dollars = lighter weight, so that’s why I would be willing to pay up to $1000. If its too heavy I am concerned that I mgiht not want to use it much.

…larger blade on your paddle!

You’ll also find a paddle(wood) with a little larger blade will help deliver extra force when you brace(for balance), expecially if you simply hold it on outer gunwale to pry.


what I did…

…I was able to sit in the seat and hang my feet over the gun’nuls into the water for extra stability.

Kind of like–dare I say it–sponsons. An undignified,

somewhat uncomfortable position, but doable for the short term.

I paddle with two dogs.
However, I paddle tandem with my wife. We each have a dog sitting between our legs so they don’t run around the canoe. We ran class II rapids with the dogs. Since we added a third dog (60, 60 and 30 pounders) my wife says she’s not going paddling with three dogs. We’ll have to try it out on a lake on a hot day when we feel like a swim. If you don’t take them they bark.

We took them down the Missouri in Montana and on several week long paddling trips. They know the routine while paddling so they aren’t too bad in the canoe. You’ll have to get them use to sitting. I cut up a sleeping pad and glued it where they sit so they don’t slide around. The problem is going to be when they see wildlife or other dogs. Two dogs leaning on the gunwales will have you practicing your braces.

I never took the dogs out solo in my Mohawk, Odyssey. I think I would be swimming before I got too far from shore since my solo canoe is much narrower than the tandems. I wouldn’t be able to control them so I can’t imagine having any fun paddling any distance. Also, I wouldn’t want to be out in anything but a calm lake or river solo. Paddling tandem with the dogs between you legs you can keep their weight from shifting. You could probably teach your dogs to sit still in the canoe so that you could relax while paddling?

Get PFDs for the dogs since it is easier to lift them into the canoe and control them.

Both my Royalex canoes weight over sixty pounds: a 14 and 15 footer. My 18 foot Kevlar canoe weights 58.

You might have to get a tandem canoe and paddle it backwards since they are wider so you would be more stable paddling with the dogs. I could probably paddle solo with two dogs in my MR 15 ft Explorer tandem, but I really would have doubts about going in my solo Odyssey.

Paddling a dedicated solo
boat with two eighty lb dogs is going to make three dogs.

The third being your canoe.

Both dogs in the bow where you can see them will make the boat bow heavy and unless you are going upwind,the loose stern may even be out of the water. You will steer like a drunk.

One dog in the front and one in the back will trim out better but can you trust the dog in the back?

Some dogs refuse to lay down or sit unless given sufficient room. Only my Raven gives my 65 lb Golden that room in a solo boat and thats a big deep river runner at 15’4" a large dedicatted solo.

Otherwise a tandem that you can paddle backwards from the bow seat and give your dogs room and you the ability to watch them makes more sense

Get yourself a long paddle to reach up to the bow for control when you need it. Ordinarily I dont suggest soloing from the bow seat backwards due to loss of control, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Both the Slipper and the Courier are not the best choices IMHO

Bell Morningstar

– Last Updated: Jun-08-08 9:41 PM EST –

It's a small tandem that can be soloed, and is relatively stable. Weighs under 60 lbs in Royalex. We've had 160 lbs of dogs in ours -- it certainly heeled, but never went over.

The only downside is that it's an asymmetric hull, so paddling backwards from the bow seat doesn't work well. I found that it trimmed well when I paddled from a kneeling thwart with both dogs in front of me, but a center seat with one fore and aft would also work. You can always move thwarts and move or remove seats to make it a better dog boat. Kneeling gives you more stability.

New ones are above your target price, but used ones wouldn't be. There's a used one for sale in the classifieds here.

Nice photo. Is that your White Shepherd? I have one, too. Beautiful dogs! Mine likes water, too, which was surprising to me. Didn’t think Shepherds liked water.

I was also thinking of getting a used canoe to go out with Willow. Actually, I have two dogs but my other dog hates the water… lab mix, go figure.

I can just imagine that
It would make an interesting photo. Undignified, you? Naw, that would never happen. :wink:

We got her as a rescue, but we think she’s mostly German Shepherd. She doesn’t swim but likes to wade. She does enjoy being out in the canoe with us, especially if the water is quiet and we stay close to shore where she can pick up all the smells.

I got mine as a rescue also
and she was listed as a “shepherd mix”. Fine with me. I got her home and posted some pics on the net (on a dog site) and I got EIGHT responses from breeders of WS’s saying “that’s a purebred WS you have there”. Even the vet said “Mixed with WHAT? She looks purebred to me.” I didn’t even know there WAS such a breed when I adopted her, although I had read that whites are excluded from the regular German Shepherd breed standard. Didn’t know the Whites had gone off and made their own club/breed standard, etc.

Yours look PB to me. Classic face and ears. I could be wrong (since I can’t see its whole body) but it sure looks like the real deal.

Purebred - schmurebred
That’s one happy looking pup!

there is a photo!

I prefer a paddle

That’s all that matters

– Last Updated: Jun-09-08 10:17 AM EST –

She's happy and healthy and that's all we really care about. She'd much rather be in the canoe with her people than stay at home.