Canine Carvers Ripped Waves in NorCal to See Who’s Top Surf Dog

The elite of canine wave-masters faced off at the 2022 World Dog Surfing Championships at Pacifica Beach State Beach in San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay area, home to some of the most beautiful surf breaks in California, attracts surfers from all around the world. But it’s most recent championship was not restricted to bipedal surfing enthusiasts.

On Saturday, the World Dog Surfing Championships hosted house pets of all shapes and sizes at Pacifica State Beach in Northern California to determine, once and for all, who’s Top Dog. 

The event, which began in 2016, is considered the premier Dog Surfing competition in the world. Their slogan, “Hanging Ten With Man’s Best Friend!”

During competitive heats, dogs ride solo or tandem with another shaggy surfer, either human or hound. 

The salty dogs are scored on two key criteria. “No. 1 is stay on the board,” a dog surfing analyst explained to NPR. “And No. 2 is looking happy.” 

Ok, so most of the canine carvers weren’t exactly dumping buckets off the lip. But they really can surf, sometimes even maneuvering the board down the line. 

This year, there were some big names out in the lineup, from defending champ Cherie, a French Bulldog from Newport Beach, who won the Medium Surf Dog and Top Dog Awards back in 2019 (the last time until Saturday’s showdown that the competition took place in person) to an up-and-comer making waves in the dog surfing community, Skyler, a cattle dog out of Santa Cruz.

Unsurprisingly, to those in the know, it was rising starlet Skyler who bested the veteran bulldog Cherie for this year’s Top Dog award, which she will likely soon bury somewhere in the back yard. Judges say she was riding a 3’7,” twin-fin with lots of rocker, the ideal board for the conditions. 

Harkening back to the iconic 2017 championships, in which dog-surfing legend Abbie Girl, an Australian Kelpie, bagged her second consecutive world title, we reflect on the words of judge Sam Stahl, commenting on the growing popularity of canine surfing: 

“There’s a lot going on in the world and a lot of things that have people kind of riled up and I think it’s important for some people to have something like this to look at and smile at,” he told NPR. “And nothing’s more fun than watching dogs surf, honestly.”

If you need a little more dog surfing and a little less stress in your life, you can livestream the Annual Best Waves competition on October 1 to watch wet dogs doing what they do best.

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