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Dogs made a splash in this year’s AKC Diving Dogs Challenge, which took place on April 2, 2023 at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In the Diving Dogs sport, dogs wait on a 40-foot dock before running and launching themselves off the end to get the toy the handler throws in.

Throughout this fast-paced competition, held in conjunction with North American Diving Dogs (NADD), dogs from across the country competed in three different disciplines—Distance, Air Retrieve, and Hydro Dash. Alongside the AKC Diving Dogs Challenge this year was an AKC Meet the Breeds event, where attendees got to meet representatives of 18 AKC-recognized dog breeds, including the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, Bracco Italiano, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

How to Watch the AKC Diving Dogs Challenge

You can watch the AKC Diving Dogs Challenge on Sunday, April 9, at 1:30 p.m. ET by tuning in to ESPN2 on your TV or by logging in to the app on any compatible device. The broadcast will be hosted by sportscaster Carolyn Manno, with analysis from Jason Rigler and sideline reporting from ESPN’s Phil Murphy.

How Does Diving Dogs Work?

While the competition is entertaining to watch, you may be wondering how Diving Dogs works. Like other dog sports, Diving Dogs has a set of rules to determine who wins and why.

All American Dog in dock diving.
Mark Baer
Dog competing in Air Retrieve at a Diving Dogs competition.

There are three different disciplines dogs can compete in:

  • Distance Jumping: Dogs compete to have the longest jump. The distance is measured from the end of the dock to the base of the dog’s tail when it breaks water.
  • Air Retrieve: The goal is for the dog to either grab or completely remove a bumper from a rig that hangs two feet above the dock and is centered with the width of the dock. The rig then moves the toy out from the dock in one-foot increments. Each dog will get two attempts at knocking down the bumper. The dog to knock down the bumper at the farthest distance wins.
  • Hydro Dash: In Hydro Dash, a dog must swim out from the dock to the bumper (located 37 feet from the dock and hung one inch above the water). The dog must remove the bumper from both clips, then swim back to the dock. The dog who does this the fastest, wins.

Diving Dog teams are comprised of only one dog and one handler, with occasionally one additional handler. A handler may use one or two toys to encourage the dog to jump into the water.

Want to Get Started in Diving Dogs?

If your dog loves water and you think they would love competing, you may be right! This dog sport is great for energetic, water-loving dogs.

All dogs six months and older (other than females in season) are eligible to compete in Diving Dogs. Titles earned through NADD will be recognized by the American Kennel Club. To apply, simply complete the Title Application.

For more information about Diving Dogs and getting involved in your local area, visit NADD. There you can learn more about Diving Dogs events in your area, diving facilities, and how to train your dog to participate.

The AKC Diving Dogs Challenge participants making a splash! The AKC Diving Dogs Challenge is taking place February 24-25 in Glendale, AZ. Stay tuned for ESPN broadcast information!