Post Featured Image
Post Featured Image

Can All Dogs Swim?

Many people mistakenly think that all dogs can naturally swim

Last Updated:

Read Caption
Header photo: Denis Moskvinov/

Many people mistakenly think that all dogs can naturally swim. This isn’t true. Though most dogs will attempt a doggy paddle if they find themselves in the water, not all dogs are good swimmers or are able to stay afloat. In the latter camp you’ll often find brachycephalic (aka short-muzzled) dogs who can tire easily or have respiration problems in the water, “top heavy” dogs with deep chests and smaller hindquarters, or dogs with short legs.

Dogs usually fall into one of three categories:

1. Dogs that LOVE the water. These dogs usually have thick, waterproof coats and webbed feet. Think the Portuguese Water Dog or the Labrador Retriever.

2. Dogs that are reluctant swimmers but can be taught.

3. Dogs that have trouble staying afloat for physiological reasons, such as brachycephalic breeds like the Bulldog, top-heavy breeds (again, the Bulldog) or short-legged breeds like the Dachshund and the Basset Hound. Additionally, hairless or finely coated dogs often don’t care for the water as they get easily chilled. Though of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

Image: Chaay_Tee/

Teach Your Dog to Swim

If your dog is able-bodied but hesitant to swim, get into the water with him. Go slow and start out in the shallows, praising as you gradually move deeper. Try a lifejacket designed for dogs and create positive association—coax your dog into the water by throwing a fetch toy or treats (which will often float for a minute before sinking). Be sure to avoid anywhere with waves that could swamp and scare your dog. By keeping it fun and positive, many nervous dogs will soon come to love swimming, which is wonderful as it’s great exercise while being easy on joints. Just respect that some dogs are happier on the shore, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Swim Gear

Keep your dog safe in and around water with a ZippyPaws Adventure Life Jacket, available in sizes to fit dogs big and small. Not only will it keep your dog afloat, reflective stripes keep dogs visible and a built-in handle let you give your dog an assist. (From $16,

Swim Fun

Thrill your water-loving dog with this fantastic outdoor pop-up dog pool from Doog. Perfect for use while camping, traveling, or on the beach! (From $49.99,

Comments (0)

Join the newsletter and never miss out on dog content again!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By clicking the arrow, you agree to our web Terms of Use and Privacy & Cookie Policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.