It’s common for people to assume that all dogs love water and that all cats hate it based on what we’ve seen on TV and in cartoons over the years, but this isn’t always necessarily true. While most dogs will enjoy splashing around in puddles or sprinklers, some may detest getting wet. Their swimming ability will very much depend on what breed of dog they are, as well as their personal preferences towards water. In fact, although most dogs will start to paddle when they find themselves in water, this is a natural instinct rather than a skill they’ve learned and many will begin to panic and not understand how to swim in one focused direction to get themselves to safety.
Dogs with short muzzles are generally not well suited to swimming due to the fact that they need to lift their head in order to keep their noses and mouths out of the water. This is a difficult position for them to maintain and they will begin to sink. The same applies to dogs with shorter legs, as they will not have the strength to paddle for prolonged periods of time. It’s important to keep shorter breeds, such as dachshunds out of water deeper than shoulder height for this reason. Dog breeds that have heavy chests are also not great swimmers. For example, a bulldog would struggle to support his or her own weight in the water. This is also the case for breeds with heavy coats as they could become waterlogged and get weighed-down.
Dog breeds that are well suited to a life in the water tend to have webbing between their toes, water-resistant coats and are of a medium or large size. Breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Newfoundlands and Irish Setters are all generally good in the water.
Some dogs can be taught to swim. This may need to be quite a slow process as you gradually get them used to the water and build up their confidence. Keep an eye on them the entire time and make sure they aren’t getting too fatigued. If you are swimming in a natural outdoor setting, rather than a doggy training pool, stay away from strong tides and any debris that they could get tangled up in. A doggy life vest can also be used to keep them safe.