Dog Surfing: An Unusual Sport

Surfing is a very popular sport for many people around the world. It is also a challenging sport to learn. But how about we make it more challenging by taking our pet dog with us when we surf? Well, that is the concept of the unusual sport called dog surfing. It is a type of surfing movement that involves dogs that are trained to surf on surfboards, windsurf, and as well as to bodysurf. 

You might only have heard about dog surfing now, but surfing dogs have actually been documented as occurring as early as the 1920s. There are also lots of competitions and exhibitions being held, which feature dogs in different coastal areas of the United States, including Imperial Beach, California, Jupiter, Florida, and Del Mar, California. If you want to learn more about this sport, read on as we’re giving you more information about dog surfing. 

The History of Dog Surfing

The very first instance of dog surfing was in the 1920s documentary that was filmed in Hawaii and California. Later on, there was a silent film released in the 1930s titled “On the Waves in Waikiki” wherein Philip K. Auna and a terrier breed dog surfed together using a wooden surfboard in Hawaii. The dog showcased different skills over the surfboard, together with hanging ten skills. 

After that film, the trend of dog surfing began and became popular. In 1944, an article was published in the National Geographic Magazine along with an image of a dog surfing. The dog’s name was Rusty. The article inspired a lot of other surfing enthusiasts to train their pets for surfing competitions. 

The first major dog surfing competition was organized in 2006 in the city of California. It was the Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition. There were almost 50 dogs that participated in the year 2011, under three categories, such as Tandem Dogs, Large Dogs, and Small Dogs. Tandem surfing involves two or more dogs together. They can be either with or without the trainee on one surfboard. Ever since 2009, the Surf City Surf Dog Competition is held yearly in Huntington Beach in California. 

In March 2012, dogs along with humans surfed on a special type of stand-up paddleboards during the Noosa Festival of Surfing. In 2013, the first fundraiser competition called Surfs Up, Dogs was organized by the Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington, Florida. Since 2016, the largest World Dog Surfing Championship is being held in California. In 2019, dog surfing for puppies started with the name SUP for Pups Intracoastal Challenge. This was organized in Deerfield Beach in Florida. 

What are the Rules in Dog Surfing?

a surfer and his dog

Here are the important rules in dog surfing:

  • The surfing boards need to have additional safety gear such as foam and fiberglass. 
  • Dogs that are participating are required to wear a life jacket or a vest.
  • The human participant is also required to wear a life jacket or vest, and as well as a rash guard during the surf to keep themselves from injuries and from drowning. 
  • Audiences are required to stay on the leash if they are not participating. 
  • For the tandem class surfing events, the launching can be done by a handler or by the owner. In the Shredder class, launching can only be done by the owners. 
  • Also, in Shredder class events, the SurFurs can surf against dogs of any weight. 
  • The judges score each surfer on their highest two waves in each heat, combining as a total heat score. 
  • Before the beginning of each heat, a green flag is displayed, followed by a longhorn blast. There are two horn blasts when each heat starts.
  • By the end of the heat, all the competitors need to leave the water and return to the rash guards. That is the time they will receive their medals.

Fun Facts About Dog Surfing

Here are some interesting facts about dog surfing:

  • The entire dog surfing circuit is believed to be started by Ricochet, a female Golden Retriever that is known to be the first dog of the surfing competition. 
  • The Surf City Surf Dog Competition is a free event that is open for everyone. It also includes the famous surFUR expo that visitors usually enjoy. 
  • The funds collected through the Imperial Beach Dog Surfing Competition support the San Diego Humane Society event, which is a very generous activity.
  • The winner of SUPs in 2015 was a trio, including a dog Hugsley together with its owner Paul Jones and his daughter Opal. 


Dog surfing may sound strange, but it is indeed a fun activity. It is a perfect sport for adventurous people who are looking for amazing ways to bond with their pet dogs. We hope this article helped you learn more about dog surfing. For more information about unique sports, you can check out our post about Unusual Sports You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.