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Do All Dogs Know How to Swim?

dog in pool blogWith warm spring weather already here and summer fast approaching, many families are starting to spend more time around the water. Splashing around can be a great way to beat the heat, but is it safe to include canine family members in on the fun?

Many people are under the impression that all dogs inherently know how to swim, but this isn’t always the case. While most dogs will naturally begin to doggy paddle if faced with the necessity, that doesn’t mean they can safely keep their head above water for any length of time, nor does it mean they are enjoying the experience.

Breeds that don’t typically make good swimmers include bulldogs, basset hounds, pugs, and Boston terriers. Dogs that are more suitable for swimming include setters, retrievers, and water spaniels.

No matter what breed your dog is, it’s important to keep safety in mind  when around water. A doggy life jacket is a good idea for any dog, but especially if your dog is new to the water or isn’t an especially strong swimmer. Never just throw your dog into the water, instead, be sure to support their hindquarters and the middle part of their body until they start paddling and appear calm. Most importantly, whether your dog is a swimming newbie or a veteran, supervision is always necessary.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Jeanne bailey May 13, 2014, 7:36 am

    I have a black lab, had him since he was about 4 weeks old and he is so frightened of water. Give him sponge bathes because of his skin allergies but never get any water around his ears, eyes, etc, always gentle warm water poured over him in small amounts….Even when I water the garden, he want to be near me but hides behind me when i have the hose in my hand.. he is now almost 2 years old, has never been mistreated, what can I do to help him get used to water?

    • VetDepot May 13, 2014, 11:48 am

      Hi Jeanne! Thank you for your question. You might try a kiddie pool. To make him less frightened, put on your suit and get in so he knows he’s not alone! You can also bring in a ball or his favorite toys to make it more enticing. Best of luck.

    • Mary July 22, 2014, 9:29 am

      My dogs don’t like baths either but given the opportunity to swim…they race me to the pool and even like laying or splashing in the kiddie pool that is out there for them to cool off.

  • Lynn Snyder July 22, 2014, 7:05 am

    We have a pool. One time a friend brought over their adolescent great dane, who had no excess body fat. She saw our dogs jumping into the pool and fearlessly followed suit. The GD sank to the bottom of the pool and just stood there. Someone jumped in to rescue her. She was clueless about swimming, but still not afraid. This led me to wonder if some dogs are too dense (physically or mentally) to swim.

    • VetDepot July 22, 2014, 7:43 am

      Hi Lynn. Some dogs just don’t inherently know how to swim and have to be taught. Others are natural swimmers.

  • Tom July 22, 2014, 5:19 pm

    With a borzoi a German Short hair pointer and to long haired Chihuahuas we have various experience.
    The GSP LOVEs wate,r while the borzoi (have had six) swim like sick fish due to their deep chests. They all swim and are great fun to watch

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