Can Dobermanns Swim? (The Myth Busted)
I have heard many, many people say over the last few years that Dobermann's can't swim! Exactly where this originated from I do not know and have struggled to find out. One theory is that their chests are too deep, another that their legs are too long and skinny. Its surprising then that other similar shaped breeds, I'm thinking Weinmariners, Pointers, Vizlas etc. don't have this supposed disorder too - isn't it?
As I wanted to start taking my Dobey Lexx for walks along canals and indeed hoped one day to get a boat on which we could share some great times on the water I wanted to find a place where I could introduce him to the wet stuff. Of course, I didn't want his first foray into swimming to be by accidentally bowling over the side of a boat or towpath which may have frightened him and put him off water altogether.
Ideally, I needed somewhere with nice clean water and a shallow bank which would allow me to introduce my young pup to the water gradually by wading in with him - he'd pretty much follow me to the ends of the earth! As I had no luck in finding outdoor waterways locally which would allow this approach I struck upon a clever idea - A quick google of Doggy Hydrotherepy pools in my local area brought up a fantastic result, as it seemed less then 3 miles away there was such a place.
After smugly punching the phone number into my phone I was soon to be surprised at the ensuing conversation.
"Hello, can I help you?" A lady at the other end of the phone enquired.
"Yes, I was wondering if I could book a couple of sessions in your hydrotherapy pool just to acquaint my dog with swimming before taking him out on a boat".
"Erm... That isn't what we normally do sir, our services are for hydrotherapy sessions"
"I understand that, but am willing to pay full price at a time where you have no sessions booked in. As I said, I just want get him swimming in a safe environment before going out and about on the water"
"Well I guess it would be OK, I.m presuming you would want to get in with him yourself?"
"Yes - if that's OK"
"Should be fine, Looking through the register we would have a half hour session available on thursday"
"Great, I'll take it"
The lady proceeded to take some details from me - My name etc. and then asked the following question...
"And what breed is he sir"
"I wouldn't bother sir"
"Wouldn't bother what?"
"Bringing him here"
"Why" - Very Very Perplexed
"Well, Dobermanns can't swim"
"In my experience sir, Dobermann's can't swim"
"That's ridiculous, all dogs can swim!"
"Not Dobermann's, I've been doing this for years and they just can't swim"
"I don't know sir, they just can't"
Needless to say, totally flabbergasted I soon ended the conversation.
After another quick google I found that this myth is fairly widespread - even though there is a myriad of videos published on the web by proud Dobey owners showcasing their swimming abilities, and more to the point enjoying it!
So , what to do? Well not long after this my partner and I took a holiday to North Wales, the Isle of Anglesey to be precise. One day we were riding around the coast of the Island (Easily done in under a day), when we happened across a beautiful little cove with sandy beach and clear blue water - surprisingly it looked very much like the caribbean beaches and waters. Better still the beach was virtually deserted!
After a little splash about in the surf it was obvious that the boy wasn't too keen on getting in the water and would wade out a little only to retreat when a small wave came along. Now, as I said before, my boy would follow me to the ends of the earth and back so I decided to use this to my advantage in this matter. By wading out waist deep I managed to get him to take his first proper swim, firstly on the lead and then off the lead and completely of his own accord. You can watch a video of this very event below as my partner was filming it on her phone.
So, as you can see from above, deep chest, long skinny legs and all, Dobermann's can in fact swim very well.
I'm not going to lie to you and say that my boy loves swimming, he doesn't. In fact I don't think he's swum since that day preferring to go out only belly height in water whilst tentatively touching for the bottom with his front feet. But it can't be disputed that this myth is indeed busted wide open as total and utter rubbish.
Water Safety for your dog
As you have read above one intention of mine was to take the boy out on a boat. Unfortunately this hasn't yet happened.
Although, as we've seen that my Dobe Lexx can indeed swim, if I were to ever take him out on a boat on anything other than very shallow, non or slow flowing water, I would take some advice that I was given and purchase a doggy life jacket for him. This may sound silly or overkill to some of you and I certainly wouldn't push my feelings on this matter onto others, but for my own personal peace of mind that is what I would do.
Please also bear in mind that water can have hidden dangers for your furry friend, here in the Uk plenty of idoits find pleasure in throwing things into canals and lakes etc. they may lie hidden under the surface and pose a real threat of damage for a dog taking a high speed dive into the water - if you're not sure what's under there be very careful.
It's certainly not adviseable to let your canine companion swim in heavily flowing rivers or rough seas. Even a water babe of a dog can get into trouble and end up getting washed away.
And lastly, as hard as it may seem, if your dog does seem to get into trouble it's probably not a good idea to wade into a river or the sea to help him - statistics show that many owners lose their live whilst attempting this only for the dog to be eventually found ok - I personally think it would be impossible for myself to stand and watch my boy in trouble, but the advice is to do so.
Thanks for reading :-)
Brendan Roberts (Doberdog)
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