The phrase “doggie paddle” exists because all dogs can swim. True? Or False? FALSE! There are a variety of reasons why not all pups are good swimmers. Some dogs don’t like water. Some dogs just sink. Other dogs do not enjoy the physiological changes that happen when they are plopped into the water. How do you identify whether your pup will be a super swimmer? Here are three tips to help identify if your pooch is NOT a natural swimmer: 1) large and heavy chest; 2) short legs; 3) short muzzle (also known as brachycephalic).
Here are 9 breeds that are poor swimmers and why.
- Basset Hound. These pooches have large heads, a dense bone structure, long, thick torsos, and disproportionately short legs, which creates a non-buoyant body. Swimming is difficult. In addition, Bassets also have long, floppy ears (which are not flotation devices) that trap water and provide the perfect environment for infection-causing yeast and bacteria.
- Bulldog. Another breed with a huge head, but add deep chests, dense bodies, and short legs and a bulldog will sink to the bottom of the pool. A life jacket is required! Bulldogs face another obstacle to successful swimming. Because their faces are flat (brachycephalic), they must tilt their heads far back to ensure their noses and mouths stay above the water line. This causes their body to become vertical rather than horizontal, meaning they must paddle even harder to keep from sinking.
- Pug. Adorable, but not swimmers. Pugs have the same body traits as a bulldog. Brachycephalic dogs are prone to breathing difficulties – especially during exercise. Hot weather, overexertion, and water inhalation can all cause major problems for these short-nosed pups.
- Dachshund. Long bodies and short legs mean that Dachshunds must work extremely hard and exhaust quite quickly when swimming. This poor endurance combined with their short stature makes drowning a real risk – even in shallow water.
- Pekingese. Another pooch with a brachycephalic facial structure. Combined with short legs and the result makes swimming extremely risky. In addition, Pekingese are not particularly strong, muscular, or athletic and tire quickly during exercise.
- Boxer. Boxers have long legs and powerfully muscled bodies so they may look like natural swimmers. However, Boxers are another brachycephalic breed, so they may struggle to keep their noses and mouths above water or face respiratory distress and over-exertion if left to swim for too long.
- Corgi. Their dense, barrel-shaped bodies and short legs are not cut out for water sports.
- Shih Tzu. Short legs, flat faces, and thick, dense coats that weigh them down in water or cover their face, making breathing even more difficult.
- Maltese. These pups are sensitive to environmental changes which can result in chills, arthritis, and rheumatism. Stick to dry land!
If you LOVE being in the water and your pup is a non-swimmer breed, here are a few things you can do to ensure fun for you AND your pooch:
- Invest in a quality life jacket for your dog. The life jacket should have a handle on top, ensuring you can quickly grab your dog. Life jacket materials should be waterproof and fit your dog appropriately.
- Teach your pup how to get to the side of your pool. Should they fall in, knowing how to get to the side of a pool could save their
- If you are headed to a lake or a beach, stay in shallow water.
- Purchase a kiddie pool. Play in a water sprinkler. These are great ways to enjoy the water with safety in mind.
Have fun, be safe, and NEVER force your dog into an uncomfortable situation.