Can All Dogs Swim?

Dogs have a special name, “Doggy Paddle,” which is the base of the myth that all dogs can swim. So let’s explore the question…. Can All Dogs Swim?

No, not all dogs can swim. A dog paddling in water isn’t a swimmer. All dogs show this behaviour in water, but that doesn’t mean they can swim. They do so to stay above water until they can. 

Although most dogs love water, all are not blessed with a natural ability to swim and in some cases you might end up questioning how long can dogs swim for.

Anyway, whether at the beach, a regular pool, or a simple paddling pool there are many others too who are afraid of water and can’t learn how to swim. So, before you put your dog into the water, you must how if he’ll enjoy or struggle hard to survive.

This post will clear all your confusion and provide answers to all your queries regarding dogs’ swimming.

Why Can’t All Dogs Swim?

Ask yourself, can all humans swim? Of course not! We have our reasons why we can’t swim. Similarly, every dog is different from others, and it’s not natural for every dog to know how to swim.

Generally, all dogs can’t swim because they belong to three different categories. These include:

Water Lovers

These dogs are made for swimming and loving water. Their thick, waterproof coats and webbed feats help them a lot in water. Portuguese War Dog and Labrador Retriever are water lovers.

Reluctant Swimmers

Sometimes, dogs are fearful of getting into the water. It’s difficult for them to learn swimming, but they can learn once they stop being afraid of water.

Physiological Incapability

Dogs having short legs and tails find it difficult to stay afloat. The hairless or finely coated breeds are not very fond of water as they get chilled easily. Dachshunds, Basset hounds, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs are some common dog breeds that are unable to swim physiologically.

Which Dog Breeds Are Good Swimmers?

Which Dog Breeds Are Good Swimmers?

The following dog breeds are good swimmers:

Golden Retriever
It is bred to fetch waterfowl and other birds. A golden retriever is a natural swimmer and retriever.

Like a golden retriever, it helps to collect waterfowl. The thick, dense outer coat of Labrador helps them while swimming.

Poodles are kept as natural duck hunters. They have a curly coat that works as a protective layer for them in water.

This breed was raised by fishermen in Canada. While working for many water rescues, they have learned well how to dive into water without fear.

Irish Water Spaniel
They have a curly coat and webbed feet, which are highly suitable to make them perfect swimmers.

Portuguese Water Spaniel
Their strong physique makes them a natural swimmer.

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever
Their double coat protects them from chilling in the water. It allows them to enjoy the water without being afraid.

Which Dog Breeds Are Bad Swimmers?

Dog breeds that are bad swimmers include:

Bulldog has short legs, a stocky build, and a flat face that make it difficult for him to stay above water.

Although boxer dogs have long tails and legs, they also have flat faces. It makes breathing a daunting task for them while swimming.

Like a bulldog, the facial structure and airways don’t favour a pug to stay afloat for long.

Basset Hound
Basset hound is a heavy body and short legs. Both these are a hindrance to swimming.

Despite this breed having webbed feet, it can’t swim easily due to short legs.

Shih Tzu
This breed’s outer coat is hair, not fur. Hair becomes waterlogged and heavy quickly, making swimming challenging.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The heavy heads of this breed are a huge barrier while swimming.

The double coats of the corgi don’t make them natural swimmers because they short legs and long bodies.

How To Teach Your Dog To Swim

If your dog falls in the category of dogs who can learn how to swim, then you should start teaching at a young age. When your dog is still a puppy getting him into the water is far easier than a grownup dog.

You can make your dog’s swim time his playtime. Rewarding him with treats every time he gathers the courage to get into the water will help him get rid of water fear soon.

You can also bring his favourite toys to water. Moreover, you can introduce your dog to another dog who is already a good swimmer. Seeing his friend getting into the water will give your pup confidence to learn how to swim fast.

Water can cause many diseases, if not clean, so don’t forget to check your dog’s vaccination status before teaching swimming. If your dog gets an infection by getting into the water, he will be more fearful of getting into the water next time.

How To Teach Your Dog To Swim

Tips To Keep In Mind While Teaching Your Dog How To Swim

Before you start teaching your dog how to swim, you must ensure that you keep the following tips in mind:

• Don’t rush or put pressure on your dog to learn to swim quickly.
• Don’t forget the dog’s life jacket. It’s important for your dog’s safety and makes him comfortable in the water.
• Always rinse off your dog after swimming to remove choline, salt, or any dirt.


If you saw a dog swimming and assumed that your dog could swim too, then you’re mistaken. All dogs can’t swim.

Just like every human, every dog is also different. They have some limitations and fears that make them bad swimmers. On the contrary, some dogs are water lovers and natural swimmers due to their bodies.

Before you leave your dog in water, you must find out if your dog is water-compatible or not. To know this, you can read the list in the article of good and bad swimmers.

If you find your dog on the list of swimmers, but he is fearful of water, you need to teach him how to swim. For that, you need the right strategy. Step-by-step progress is vital to help him learn.

While teaching your dog how to swim, you must keep your nerves in control. It won’t happen in a day, so you have to be patient if your dog gives you a tough time initially.

With patience and practice, your dog can be a good swimmer.