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Can All Dogs Swim?

June 15, 2021 by The Spot Pack
Chocolate Lab at swimming pool

The sun’s out, and the temperatures are quickly rising as we approach summertime. With summertime comes a variety of water fun, from kayaking to boating to swimming.

This begs the question - can all dogs swim?

Can All Dogs Swim?

Yes and no.

Some dogs are natural swimmers who can swim from the moment they step foot in the water.

Other dogs may need some practice before they are comfortable swimming.

Then there’s a handful of dogs that absolutely should not be in the water - at least not without a life jacket on.

Certain dog breeds, like short-legged, long-bodied Dachshunds or brachycephalic dog breeds, like Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and Pugs, cannot swim or struggle to keep their nose above water, making swimming dangerous for them. (1)

Here are some of the most at-risk dog breeds in regards to swimming:

● Basset Hounds (short-legged)
● Dachshunds (long-bodied)
● Boston Terriers
● French Bulldogs
● Pugs
● Bull Terriers
● English Bulldogs (brachycephalic)
● Boxers (brachycephalic)
● Corgis
● Shih Tzus (heavy coats)

You’ll find that other dog breeds, like Labrador Retrievers and Irish Water Spaniels, are typically naturals in the water due to their breeding as duck retrievers and fisherman’s helpers. (2)

Regardless of your dog’s breed, you should always monitor them in the water.

Pool Safety for Dogs

The number one rule for pool safety and your pet is never to leave them unattended. Like children, never assume that they will be okay in the pool - even if they’ve previously shown themselves to be strong swimmers.

A few other tips to keep in mind:

● Many dogs can’t pull themselves in and out of pools. If there are no steps in the pool, consider purchasing a pet-safe pool ladder or ramp.
Dog swimming lessons with a dog trainer can help your dog develop strong swimming skills and teach them to swim to stairs or use a ladder to pull themselves out safely.
● Consider a dog life vest - especially for dog breeds that are unable to swim well.
Be careful with pool covers or blankets. Dogs may think these are solid surfaces and wander onto them, which may cause them to collapse under their weight.

Even with the best preparation, accidents can still happen to our beloved pets. Whether these accidents are pool-related or not, pet insurance can help you with unexpected veterinary costs.

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1. Gibeault, Stephanie, MSc, CPDT. (2021, June 3). Can All Dogs Swim? How to Teach a Dog to Swim. Retrieved from

2. Bauhaus, Jean M. (2021, March 12) Retrieved from

3. Metropolitan VeterinaryCenter (2021). Crucial Lessons For Keeping Dogs Safe Around Water. Retrieved from

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