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Can Dobermanns Swim? (The Myth Busted)

Updated on February 22, 2012

The Myth

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"

"A Dobermann"

"Sorry Sir"

"A Dobermann"

"I wouldn't bother sir"

"Wouldn't bother what?"

"Bringing him here"

"Why" - Very Very Perplexed

"Well, Dobermanns can't swim"

"Excuse me"

"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.

The Truth

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.

Myth Busted

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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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      My Doberman was a lovely dog called 'Odin', he could swim like a fish and would happily swim up and down lakes in Kent (where I lived at the time) trying to unsuccessfully catch the ducks. He would bark all the time he was swimming and it would often take us well over an hour to get him to come out of the water. He was also amazing in as much as he would dive down under the water looking for stones we had thrown in. He never found them but was often swimming around below the surface 'looking' for them for up to 30 seconds or more. Heck, he could swim better than I can by far.

      Sadly we lost him aged 3 from an incredibly rare form of Hepatitis (not covered by his normal hepatitis inoculation). Apparently it only effects about 1 in every 100,000 Doberman's and then normally bitches. We were so unlucky as he was a dog not a bitch and he was in every way treated as he should have been, fully inoculated, fed the best quality foods etc. It broke my heart to lose him, and I had him cremated and buried his ashes in our garden. I then had a slate headstone made for him and shipped down from the Lake District. When my then Husband later died I dug up the ashes and took both them and the headstone back to Guernsey where they are now in my parent's garden.

      Doberman's are a wonderful (if somewhat energetic) breed. Very gentle though, and it did annoy me when people would sweep their children up into their arms the moment they saw my Doberman coming. He was great with children (as are most Dobermans).

    • doberdog profile image

      doberdog 7 years ago

      Well as you can see Dobies can swim - they probably just mostly choose not to!

      You're right Dobies do need a definitive pack leader. My boy does pretty much what my finacee tells him to do, dotes on her and would certainly fight to the death for her, BUT there's just some things he will only do for me. I hope you get well soon and are able to enjoy your beautiful Dobe to the full - Haven't seen yours but I know it's beautiful, they all are.

      Kind Regards


      And remember - "If it's not a Dobermann it's just a dog"

    • profile image

      envy my doby 7 years ago

      I was wondering if this myth was true. I bought a doby about 2 years ago, my parents have lake and river front properties and envy (my doby) absolutely loves splashing around by shore. I bought her a nice lifejacket because she would get out so far and kind of sunk. She would jump so her back feet would hit bottom till she got close enough to jump through the water. My father and uncle did the same thing as you did, but she wouldn't swim out to them. I have figured out that Dobermans choose one person to listen to, well a main master. I have had some medical problems so i haven't been out in the water with her. I am hoping next summer when i can get back in the water she will follow me. :)

    • doberdog profile image

      doberdog 7 years ago

      thankyou - as you can see I am new to hubbing and it's great to get my first comment - a good one too.



    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Great hub. I agree with you, I think most dogs (if not all) have an innate ability to swim, regardless of urban legend. Some dogs just don't prefer water.

      Great video.