The Purina Pro Incredible Surf Dog competition was held at Huntington Beach State Park in Huntington Beach, California again this year, on Friday, May 29. A dog on a surfboard is definitely not something most people would expect to see when walking on the beach, let alone several of them competing against each other in heats. It’s actually quite a serious competition, complete with a fairly large surf dog subculture in Southern California.
Large competitions can bring between 4,000 and 6,000 spectators, said Peter Noll. Noll is the founder of a San-Diego-area club called SoCal Surf Dogs. Noll’s own dog, a Bernese mountain dog is actually retired from surfing, but he continues to offer surf dog lessons. He has surfed since 1963, but the majority of surf dog owners are not surfers themselves. The dogs just need to have a simple love for fun and the water in order to be taught to surf, and Noll requires any dog in his care to wear a life vest. He also recommends soft-top surfboards because the dogs’ claws can dig into it for additional stability.
Bulldogs are the best surf dogs in his opinion, mostly because they are short with a low center of gravity. Plus, they have “a stubborn determination to do whatever they want to do.”