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Can all dogs swim?

Updated on June 28, 2010

All dogs swim. These animals are in fact excellent swimmers. The dog paddle swimming stroke was coined because of this animal’s prowess to tread water. Rescue dogs have saved lived from drowning. Dogs are wonderful companions. A dog will add to the fun of sailing but it would certainly be surprising if the pet would tumble overboard and sink like a bag of bricks. Never assume that your dog can swim as the myth that all dogs can swim is just that…a myth. It does not mean that because a dog has a water appendage to its name it would be born knowing how to swim.

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Why some dogs can’t swim

Instinctively, a dog will paddle and try to swim but not all dogs can. First off, most dogs are fearful of unstable surfaces; most dogs would tremble at the sight of water. The nervous dog will panic and when help is not available will be a goner. The conformations of some dogs are not built for swimming. Short legged toy breeds will find it hard to paddle. Heavy bodied breed would be less buoyant. On the other hand, dog with very little body fat would have less buoyancy as well. Some breeds can swim but will be hampered by disabilities. Maltese are noted to be good swimmers. However, this breed is predisposed to rheumatism and arthritis. The pain will naturally restrict the dog’s movements.

Swimming breeds

Some breeds naturally love the water. Retrievers, water dogs, setters, poodles would gladly enter the water. Owners of these breeds would have a different concern…that of keeping the dog from dirty water. These breeds would swim every chance they could get.

Non-Swimming breeds

Some dogs can’t swim at all, others can but with difficulty. Basset hounds, Corgis and Dachshunds are rendered incapable of swimming because of small short legs. The same thing is true with terrier breeds. A Sealyham Terrier, Boston and Scotch terriers will find swimming difficult. The heavy bodies of Pugs and Bulldogs make them less buoyant. Greyhounds and Doberman Pinchers have long legs that are ideal for paddling but because the body has very little fat, these breeds similar to heavy bodied ones would be less buoyant as well.

Safeguard for non-swimming dogs

Non-swimming dogs, like children would always need close supervision. Gates will restrict the pet’s access to the pool area. Dogs would be good companions in boating trips but be sure to equip the dog with a personal floating device. Dogs that simply hate the water and are not encumbered by heavy bodies and short legs can be taught to swim. The trick is to gradually expose the dog to swimming. Start the swimming lessons while the dog is still a puppy as they would be more manageable. Moreover, inquisitive puppies may not have formed fear of water yet.

Dangers for non-swimming dogs

Dogs are naturally active and inquisitive. What do you think will happen to a Corgi that fell on the pool? The dog’s paddling will be ineffective not only because of the short legs but also because of the heavy body. The dog would find it hard to get out of the pool, will tire and drown.

Dog Swimming Underwater

Dog Swim Team

Boxer Dog Swimming


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    • hanwillingham profile image

      hanwillingham 6 years ago

      Very entertaining hub about dogs!