Which Dogs Can’t Swim?

Which Dogs Can't Swim? Make Sure You Know Which Breeds Are at Risk

Swimming is a great activity for humans and animals alike. But did you know that not all dogs are capable of swimming? There are many breeds of canines that simply cannot take to the water. 

With so many different dog breeds out there, it can be difficult to know which ones will have an easy time in the water and which ones face a greater challenge. Many dogs were bred for certain activities, such as hunting or herding, that don’t require swimming ability and some even lack the skill altogether.

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which dogs can't swim
Which dogs can't swim?

Knowing which dogs are at risk of drowning when they go into any body of water is essential if you’re going to keep your four-legged friend safe. Whether you’re looking for a poolside companion or scheduling playtime with friends around the lake, this post has got you covered on identifying which dogs can’t swim.

We’ll explore this in more detail here and answer the question: Which Dogs Can’t Swim?

Which Dogs Can’t Swim?

Not all dogs can swim. Some breeds, due to their size or lack of energy, cannot stay afloat in water and should be kept away from it.

Dogs That Struggle To Swim

The following breeds are not good swimmers:

– Bulldogs: Due to their short legs and heavy bodies, Bulldogs are not natural swimmers and can quickly become exhausted in water.

– Chihuahua: These little dogs have very small legs, making it hard for them to paddle effectively.

– Greyhounds: While they may be able to swim, their slim build and lack of energy make them ill-suited for long periods in the water.

– Shih Tzu: These small dogs have a low body fat percentage, making them less buoyant in the water.

– Dachshund: Dachshunds have long, slender bodies and short legs that make it difficult for them to stay afloat.

Breeds That Should Be Monitored Around Water

Certain breeds are capable of swimming, but should be monitored around water due to their physical traits:

– Cocker Spaniel: Their thick fur can make them heavy in the water and they tire easily.

– Basset Hound: While these dogs may be able to paddle, their long ears can fill with water and weigh them down.

– Pekingese: These small dogs can tire quickly in water and should only be allowed to swim for short periods of time.

– Pug: While some pugs may enjoy swimming, their short legs and stocky build make it hard for them to stay afloat for long periods of time.

– Bullmastiff: These large, strong dogs can have a difficult time in the water due to their size and lack of energy.

It’s important to remember that all dogs should always be supervised when near any body of water, regardless of breed. Make sure you never leave your pup unattended and provide them with proper safety gear such as a life jacket. With the right precautions, your pup can have a safe and enjoyable time in the water!

How Do I Know if My Dog Can’t Swim?

If your dog is struggling in the water or if you suspect they can’t swim, look for these signs:

– Excessive Panic and Uncontrolled Movement: If your dog looks frantic and continues to paddle without making progress, this could be a sign that they are having difficulty staying afloat.

– Lack of Movement: If your dog stops paddling altogether and is just floating, this could mean that they are becoming exhausted and may not be able to continue swimming.

– Rapid Breathing or Panting: Dogs who cannot swim will often become distressed due to the effort it takes to stay afloat and may pant or breathe heavily.

– Loss of Consciousness: If your dog is unresponsive in the water, this could be a sign that they are drowning.

– Unusual Posture: Dogs who cannot swim may sink beneath the surface with their legs pointed downward and their bodies arched upwards.

By understanding the signs of a dog struggling in water, you can better assess your pet’s ability to swim and take the necessary steps to ensure their safety. If you suspect that your dog cannot swim, it is important to remove them from the water immediately and call for help if needed. Additionally, you can take steps to prevent your dog from ever having to face the situation by teaching them how to swim.

Teaching Dogs How to Swim Step by Step

Step 1.

Start by introducing the dog to water in shallow areas, like a children’s pool, or a shallow creek or pond. Let them explore and get used to the feeling of being in the water with you by their side.

Step 2.

Gradually introduce deeper waters, making sure you always remain within arm’s reach of the dog. Once they feel comfortable, move further away and encourage them to swim towards you.

Step 3.

Use a flotation device if your dog is struggling to stay above water. Ensure that it does not interfere with their swimming motion or cause any discomfort for them.

Step 4.

Reward your pup every time they complete a task in the water or make progress swimming. Positive reinforcement will help them feel more comfortable and willing to practice.

Step 5.

For dogs that may be a bit nervous, you can use toys as an additional reward for completing tasks. Throwing a toy into the water for them to retrieve is a great way to get them used to being in deeper waters.

Step 6.

Once your dog has mastered the basics of swimming, start incorporating other tasks like retrieving items from the bottom or learning how to do a back float. These activities will challenge them and help them become more confident swimmers.

Step 7.

Monitor your pup’s progress in the water regularly and ensure that they are staying safe. It’s also important to remember that some dogs may not take to swimming as easily as others, and you should never force them into the water if they are uncomfortable.

Step 8.

Finally, once your pup has mastered all of these steps, make sure to give them plenty of praise and rewards for their hard work! Swimming is a great way to stay active and can be a lot of fun for both you and your pup.

What Are the Benefits of Swimming for Dogs?

1. Improved cardiovascular health – Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for dogs, which helps strengthen their hearts and lungs and improve overall cardiovascular health.

2. Strengthened muscles – Swimming helps to strengthen a dog’s muscles all over its body by working against the resistance of the water. This can help to improve their coordination and balance as well.

3. Improved flexibility – Swimming is also beneficial for dogs with joint problems as it helps to loosen stiff joints, thereby improving overall flexibility.

4. Reduced stress – Playing in the water is a great way for dogs to let off steam and reduce any built-up stress or anxiety.

5. Increased confidence – Dogs that are shy or timid may find swimming to be a great way to gain confidence and feel more secure in their environment.

6. Promotes bonding – Swimming can also help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, as it gives you both an opportunity to have fun together.

7. Cooling down – Swimming is a great way for dogs to cool down on hot days, and it’s important that they stay hydrated when doing so.

8. Unstructured playtime – Swimming gives your dog an opportunity to express themselves and have unstructured playtime without needing to obey commands or perform any specific tasks.

9. Mental stimulation – Swimming can also help to stimulate your dog’s mind as they use problem-solving skills and learn how to navigate in the water.


Can dogs swim with sharks?

The answer to this question depends on the type of shark, its size and how comfortable the dog is around them. Generally speaking, it’s not safe for a dog to swim with sharks as there could be potential risks involved. Sharks are predators that can sense movement in the water and may mistake a dog for prey or become overly aggressive. If a dog is put in the water with a shark, both could be at risk of injury or even death.

It’s important to note that not all sharks are dangerous and some species may not even notice a small dog swimming nearby. However, it’s still not recommended for dogs to swim with them as their presence can cause stress for the dog or the shark.

Can Swim save a dog’s life?

The answer is a resounding yes! Swimming can absolutely save a dog’s life. In fact, it has been known to be the only way to save some dogs from drowning or other water-related emergencies. Dogs are natural swimmers and have the ability to stay afloat for long periods of time if trained properly.

With proper instruction and supervision, swimming can provide dogs with a great form of exercise and fun while also potentially saving their life in an emergency. In some cases, enrolling your dog in a swim class may be the best way to ensure their safety around water. Swimming classes are designed to teach proper swimming techniques and build confidence for both you and your pup.

Can dogs swim with humans?

Yes, dogs can swim with humans. Although some breeds are more suited to swimming than others, most dogs are capable of paddling in the water alongside their owners if given proper training.

In addition to providing exercise and recreation for both owners and their four-legged friends, swimming is an ideal way for a dog to cool off during hot summer days. However, it is important to remember that dogs may require special safety precautions when swimming with humans, such as protective gear or a life vest.

It is also recommended that owners familiarize themselves with the basics of canine water safety before taking their pup for a dip.


In conclusion, dogs that are particularly prone to not enjoying water and swimming include those with short muzzles like Bulldogs and Pugs, as well as large breeds with heavy bones like Mastiffs. Senior or overweight dogs may also be less likely to enjoy the activity.

However, all dog breeds can learn to swim if motivated by an owner. With proper instruction and safety precautions, swimming can be a fun activity for both owners and their dogs.

We hope this article has been helpful in understanding the swimming abilities of different dog breeds. With knowledge and patience, all dogs can learn to enjoy the water. Happy swimming!


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To provide you with the expert assistance you need, Vet Ranch with licensed veterinarians can answer your health-related pet issues. For the purpose of sharing knowledge with each other, we have jointly created this website, where you can get useful information from us and also where we expand our knowledge through your comments from you.