Can all dogs swim?

Our question this week was:

All dogs can swim, right? After all what people call the 'dog paddle' is what dogs do naturally, right? Wrong, not all breeds can swim as well as, say a Lab or a Newfie…breeds with brachycephalic heads (snub nose breeds like bull dogs) are not designed to be swimmers and they are at risk on a boating trip or even a trip to the beach or lake (with no boat involved) unless they are wearing a flotation device. I recently noticed A TV ad for boating that showed dogs in every view of boats streaking across the water. Not one of those dogs was wearing a flotation device. I wrote the boating association about this oversight, but I have never heard a word from them, so as out country's birthday approaches and summer get in full swing, a little reminder to dog lovers everywhere might be in order. There are many doggie flotation devices available…


Anaphe Chimarusti, AHT (ret)


Hi – thanks for your email Anaphe. You made some very good points.

In my opinion, not all dogs can swim. Some are good water athletics and some are not! You made a good point that brachycephalic breeds, like bulldogs, are not natural swimmers and can have a very hard time.

Generally speaking, I think special care needs to be taken around bodies of water and all dogs. Even dogs that are good water athletes can run into problems as they may be good swimmers but may not be able to get in and out of the pool because there is not good ladder or there is no place for them to gain traction to get out of the pool.

Every home with a dog and a pool should have a dog water ramp just in the case they fall into the pool. Even dogs at lakes that are good swimmers or boat dogs are safest with a boat water ramp made for dogs and a floatation device.

We actually promote an article around the 4th of July and Memorial (actually all the summer holidays) about Pool and Water safety.

An article that might be interesting to you is Your Pets and Pool Safety.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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