Can All Dogs Swim?

can all dogs swim
Can All Dogs Swim?
Many people mistakenly think that all dogs can naturally swim

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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.

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, zippypaws.com)

Swim Fun

Thrill your water-loving dog or encourage your canine land lubber with these awesome Seal Water toys from DOOG. They have a weighted tail and are designed to float upright in the water, perfect for use at the beach, pool or lake! ($19, doogusa.com)

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