Do All Dogs Like to Swim?

A common misconception about dogs is thinking they all like to swim. This can leave owners a little shocked when their canine companion refuses to jump in the water.

Jun 19, 2023byAshley Kulak
do all dogs like to swim

Not all dogs like swimming. On the contrary, some dogs despise it, while others physically cannot do it. There are many dog breeds that were designed to be natural-born swimmers, and others that will need a little help.

Do Dogs Like Swimming?

Dog swimming with stick

If you own a Labrador retriever or an English Setter, chances are they will take on any body of water they come across and naturally paddle through with excitement and skill.

However, not all dogs enjoy swimming; in fact, some dogs would much rather stay dry. Like humans, swimming can be a personal preference, and your dog might choose to sit on the sidelines at the pool.

Which Dog Breeds Like Swimming?

2 dogs with ball

If you are on the hunt for a pet who will spend time with you cooling off at the beach, fishing in the lake, or enjoying an afternoon on the boat, there are a few breeds you can count on.

  • Labrador retriever
  • American Water Spaniel
  • Curley Coated Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Otter Hound
  • English setter
  • Flat Coat Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Poodle
  • Spanish Water Dog

All of these dogs are bred for some type of water activity; whether it be for hunting, rescue, or retrieving, they were born to swim.

Now, that does not mean other breeds will not enjoy a quick dip in the pool; many other dog breeds will still enjoy swimming and can even figure it out all on their own. Nonetheless, the list above is a sure thing.

Are All Dogs Good Swimmers?

Dog with sunglasses

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are natural-born swimmers. While most of them have a decent amount of knowledge to help them wade through the waters, some will struggle without proper safety precautions.

Because some dog breeds were developed for water duties, their bodies are built for swimming. Without the proper physical structure, a dog could struggle to make their way through deep bodies of water.

So, which dogs would not fare well in water?

  • Heavy muscular dogs (Such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier) that do not have a lot of fat will not get much buoyancy and will have a hard time above water.
  • Dogs with short legs and longer bodies, like Dachshunds, have trouble paddling around.
  • Dogs with shorter muzzles (or flat) have a difficult time swimming because they can get short of breath quickly. This includes breeds such as the Chow Chow, Boxer, Bulldog, or Pug.
  • Dog breeds with disproportionate bodies, like the Basset Hound, will also struggle to keep themselves afloat, even in a shallower body of water.

Can You Teach a Dog How to Swim?

dogs with life vest

Any dog can learn how to swim if you have the patience to teach them and do not mind coughing up the money for lessons.

Some dogs will do well without swimming lessons as long as you provide them with a quality life jacket to help keep them afloat.

With that said, you should not force a dog to swim if they have no interest.

Other Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool Without Swimming in Deep Water

If your pet is afraid of getting in the pool, but you want them to enjoy some time in the sun, you can help cool them off by:

  • Buying a dog sprinkler (some are even step-activated)
  • Purchasing a small kiddie pool
  • Investing in a puppy splash pad
  • Grabbing a spray chew toy
  • Offering them a frozen treat
  • Keeping a large cool bowl of water available at all time

What Makes a Dog a Good Swimmer?

dog built for swimming

As previously mentioned, some dogs were simply built for swimming. They were bred to give them proper body formation that will keep them above water and the stamina to help them go on for a good amount of time.

Good swimmers also have waterproof coats that keep them from becoming saturated, thus not holding them down.

Practice, assistance, and time also make dogs good swimmers. The more they get out in the water and play around, the more comfortable they will become.

Things to Keep in Mind

dog swimming

While swimming is a great way to cool your dog down and give them a good amount of exercise, there are some serious risks involved.

  • Water Toxicity- This happens when dogs swallow too much water and can be life threatening.
  • Swimmers Tail (cold tail)- This happens if the water temperature is too cold, and their tails no longer move freely.
  • Hypothermia- If your dog begins to shiver and cannot use his tail, get him to the vet immediately.
Ashley Kulak
byAshley Kulak

Ashley is an animal lover with a special place in her heart for dogs. When she isn’t writing about animals, she is spending a lot of her time outdoors exploring the world with her family and 3 dogs, Letty (black lab), Deizel (Husky), and Gunnar (Unknown).