April 22, 2024
dog surfing del mar

Dog Surfing Del Mar Introduction

Every year, dog owners and their pups flock to San Diego for the famed Del Mar Dog Surfing Contest.

Surfing with your mutt is next level companionship. In this post, learn all about how to go surfing with your dog and the details for dog surfing Del Mar’s favorite contest; in case you care to enter!

An Overview to Surfing with Your Dog

Dogs are a man’s best friend and now they can join their owners during their favorite active pursuit, surfing! In fact, dog surfing has been around since the 1920’s. Today, dog surfing is actually pretty common.

The best breeds of dogs for surfing include Portuguese water dogs, American Water Spaniels, and Retrievers (Labrador, Golden, etc.). However, even for these dog breeds that are comfortable in the water; learning how to surf is as difficult for dogs as it is for humans. It takes time and commitment from both owner and dog. Like humans, I suggest teaching your dog how to surf on a foam board.

dog surfing san diego
Retrievers are a great breed for dog surfing.

Even once your dog is comfortable, you are going to want to keep them on a soft top long term. It’s also highly recommended to get your canine a flotation device (life jacket) to keep them safe.

dog surfing

If your dog is a natural, you may even want to consider signing up for the dog surfing contest in Del Mar!

Del Mar Dog Surfing Contest

Home to the annual Del Mar Dog Surfing Contest; you will find dog owners not just from Southern California but all over the country flock to San Diego’s finest beaches.

del mar dog surfing contest
The judge and announcer booth at Dog Beach for the Del Mar Dog Surfing Competition.

Typically, the Del Mar Dog Surfing contest is held in September. This year mark your calendar for Sunday September 10th, 2023 at 8am. Dog Beach in Del Mar plays host to this annual event that raises money for the Helen Woodward Animal Center of San Diego.

To register as a participant in this event, you can do so directly on the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon website. Don’t worry what size of dog you have as there is a heat for every size:

  • Extra small dog
  • Small dog
  • Medium dog
  • Large dog
  • Extra large dog

In addition to each of the heats based on size, there is also a costume contest which is tons of fun!

On the day of the competition, the beach is filled with spectators and vendors. The contest is complete with announcers and a booth for the judges. To get a prime viewing spot of the action on the beach, show up early.

This really is the real deal for dogs! Being crowned the winner of the Del Mar Dog Surfing contest is a big deal.

dog beach san diego
Dog owners matching up in costume with their canine counterparts.

Other Beaches for Dog Surfing in San Diego

There aren’t a ton of dog friendly beaches in San Diego. In addition to Del Mar Dog Beach, two other popular beaches for dog surfing in San Diego are:

While these other beaches do not host a dog surfing competition, they are dog friendly and will allow you to take your dog out surfing.

Alternatively, Imperial Beach (which is not a dog friendly beach year-round); also hosts it’s own dog surfing competition – the IB Surf Dog! This event only happens once a year.

In summary, there are only a few select beaches where taking your dog surfing in San Diego is permitted.

Dog Surf Lessons San Diego

Dog surf lessons in San Diego are available for those interested in participating in a contest or just having some fun with their dog.

For starters, the Del Mar Dog Surfing competition hosts surf lessons on the days leading up the event. They are small classes that fill up quickly. Be on the lookout for these lessons when the contest event date nears.

Other dog surf lessons in San Diego include Surf Dog Richochet or Hot Dog on a Leash (based in Carlsbad).

del mar dog beach surfing
Get a surf lesson with your canine!

Dog Surfing Del Mar and Beyond

In summary, surfing with your dog is a special experience for any canine owner. If you aren’t fond of surfing, it’s still a blast to watch dog surfing at Del Mar.

Subscribe below for special offers on dog surfing lessons and updates on this year’s Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon.


  • Gavin Bechtold

    Gavin has been living and surfing in San Diego for over a decade. He loves the ocean and is lucky to call San Diego home. Frustrated with mainstream reviews, he set out to create the best source of surf reviews for San Diego beaches. Check the About page for more info!