What Dogs Shouldn’t Swim? Here’s the List

Dogs and water have an age-old connection. Many of our furry friends love to splash around in lakes, rivers, and even swimming pools. However, not all dogs are natural swimmers, and for some, swimming can be downright dangerous. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore why some dogs shouldn’t swim and provide essential insights into keeping your canine companion safe around water. 

So, whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a newbie, read on to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of dogs and water.

Breed Matters

It might surprise you, but a dog’s breed plays a significant role in its swimming abilities. Some breeds are natural water dogs, while others are not built for aquatic adventures. 

For instance, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs are known for their love of water and strong swimming abilities. 

On the other hand, short-nosed breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs often struggle in the water due to their brachycephalic anatomy.

Age and Health

Just like humans, a dog’s age and health can impact their swimming capabilities. Puppies are generally not as strong swimmers as adult dogs. They might tire quickly and have difficulty staying afloat.

Additionally, older dogs may experience joint problems that make swimming painful. Always consider your dog’s age and overall health before introducing them to water.

Fear and Anxiety

Dogs can experience fear and anxiety around water, just like people. Traumatic experiences, such as being thrown into water or having a near-drowning incident, can scar a dog for life. 

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Even if your dog hasn’t had a negative experience, some canines naturally fear water. Signs of fear or anxiety around water include trembling, whining, or attempting to escape the water.

Lack of Swimming Skills

Not all dogs are born with the innate ability to swim. Some may need to be taught, while others may never feel comfortable in the water. 

If your dog hasn’t been exposed to water from a young age, they might struggle to learn how to swim later in life. It’s essential to start with shallow water and gradually introduce them to deeper areas if they show interest.

Water Temperature

Water temperature can be a crucial factor in a dog’s ability to swim comfortably. Extremely cold water can cause hypothermia in dogs, even if they’re excellent swimmers. 

On the other hand, overly hot water can lead to overheating. Always check the water temperature before allowing your dog to swim and be mindful of signs of discomfort.

Supervision Is Key

Regardless of your dog’s breed or swimming abilities, it’s essential to supervise them when they’re near water. Accidents can happen quickly, and even the best swimmers can find themselves in dangerous situations. Invest in a well-fitted life jacket for your dog, especially if you plan to be around deep water.

Pools vs. Natural Bodies of Water

Swimming in a pool is a different experience for dogs than swimming in natural bodies of water like lakes or rivers. Pools have smooth, predictable edges, while natural bodies of water may have hidden currents, rocks, and other hazards. 

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If your dog is inexperienced in swimming, it’s often safer to start with a pool where you have more control over the environment.

Training and Socialization

If you want to introduce your dog to swimming, consider professional training or socialization classes designed for dogs and water. These programs can help build your dog’s confidence in the water and teach them essential swimming skills.


In conclusion, not all dogs are natural swimmers, and some should avoid swimming altogether due to their breed, age, health, or fear of water. However, with the right precautions, supervision, and training, many dogs can enjoy the water safely. 

Remember that your dog’s safety should always be the top priority, and when in doubt, consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for guidance on introducing your furry friend to the world of swimming. 

So, whether your dog is a water-loving retriever or a cautious companion, make sure their aquatic adventures are safe and enjoyable.