There are dogs who love to romp through water and there are dogs who are at home in the liquid element. And then there are fur noses who react shyly to every drop and prefer to hide in their basket. This post answers the questions of which dogs can swim and which cannot, why it is and how that can be changed.
Can All Dogs Swim?
No, contrary to the assumption that dogs can basically swim, there are some animals that have real difficulties. Just like humans, dogs have to learn to swim. This is why the fur noses can get into trouble in the water and in the worst case even drown, as a dramatic case from China recently showed.
Another parallel to the human world is that young dogs in the water immediately start with the typical paddling movements, some even paddle if they are only held over a water surface. The same can be observed in human babies. If they are taken to the swimming pool at the tender age of a few days, they can dive and swim.
As the babies get older and have not yet had contact with water, the ability is lost and they develop anxiety in the water. It is similar to dogs.
Which Breeds of Dogs Love to Swim?
As mentioned at the beginning, there are dog breeds that are almost addicted to water, such as all retriever breeds or water dog breeds. The following dog breeds are particularly known for their love of water:
- Golden retriever
- German shepherd dog
- Spanish water dog
There are also small dog breeds that are not so well known for their love for the water, but generally like to romp and play in the cool water. Poodles and Maltese are part of it. However, you have to be careful if your four-legged friend is a Maltese or a Malti-Mix. Although the animals are very talented when it comes to swimming, they are prone to joint problems such as rheumatism and arthritis. Placing Maltese in water can make the symptoms of the disease worse.
Which Dogs Don’t Want to Swim So Much?
There are some very sensitive dog souls who have absolutely no desire for water and therefore belong to those animals that cannot or do not want to swim easily. The following are some of the particularly squeamish and water-shy dog breeds:
Pug: The pug has a short snout and is short of breath. This hinders his ability to swim. Apart from that, it is difficult for him to keep his snout above the waterline. For this to work, pugs have to bend their heads very far back, which causes their bottom to sink down. If you have a pool at home, put your pug in a life jacket.
Dachshund: A dachshund has short legs and is therefore not very good at paddling. His leg movements do not generate the same amount of lift as a dog with long legs. If you have a dachshund, be careful that the little guy does not go into any body of water where the water is above his shoulder height. The four-legged friend does not manage to free itself from deeper water. There is an acute risk of drowning!
Boxer: Similar to a pug, a boxer must have a short muzzle and a flat face. For him, too, it is difficult to keep his head above water. Then there is the shortness of breath. The same applies to him: if he lifts his head, his rear part sinks down, a life-threatening situation for the dog. It is best to only allow boxers to run around on the bank or offer them a children’s pool.
Of course, there are exceptions within the breeds, but in principle, these belong to the category “dogs that do not swim”. It doesn’t really matter whether they don’t want to or can’t. In addition to the breeds described in more detail above, the basset, the chow, the corgi, the Staffordshire bull terrier, the great dane, and the dalmatian are also water-shy dogs breeds. What is certain is that, as a rule, it is very difficult for them to get a dog from the breeds mentioned to go into the water.
How to Teach a Dog to Swim
If you want to teach your dog to swim, the first rule is: the sooner the better. Because the younger a dog is, the easier it is to get him used to the water in a playful way. To do this, you can simply throw your favorite ball towards the water and wait to see how it reacts. However, if you notice that your dog goes into reverse as soon as a lake or river is nearby, then you need to come up with a few tricks.
Find the right body of water. Choose a position that has a shallow entry point. This prevents panic attacks. Because if the animal is in the water and would like to get out, but cannot, it would develop fear and link this fear with the water.
Remove the collar and harness so that nothing can get caught in them and hold the dog. Invisible obstacles under the surface of the water such as plants or branches can get caught in it and cause the beloved fur nose to panic.
Avoid strongly flowing waters or use bays where the water is calm. You should definitely stay away from fishing spots, as hooks and lines can be lying around in the shore area or in the water.
Once you have found the right body of water, simply take the dog into the water yourself. Many loyal dogs follow their owner! Alternatively, you can encourage him to take steps into the water on his own by throwing a toy into it. Another great way to reduce your fear of water is to play with a stimulus rod. It is of course best if the dog already knows the stimulus rod and reacts positively to it. Then you can simply move the place to play with your four-legged friend to the bank of a lake or a river. The fur nose will automatically run through the water during the wild hunt for the prey. In this way, the dog associates the game with you in a positive way with the water. The foundation stone has been laid for at least one animal to grow on a water-shy fur nose that is no longer afraid of water and may even swim soon.