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Can dogs swim?

(April 30, 2010)

Who wouldn’t like to jump into a cool pond on a sweltering day? Not only do dogs swim, but many really enjoy a chance to jump into the water. Some breeds were born for the water, and love nothing better than a dip. For these breeds, like retrievers or water dogs, swimming comes naturally, and they don’t need to be taught. Other dogs, though, need to be slowly introduced to the water.

There’s no hard and fast rule about which dogs will swim and which won’t. Like people, each animal has its own unique personality. So don’t go about throwing your Lab into a pool.

If you’re wondering how dogs swim, the answer is: quite well. Naturally, their stroke of choice is the dog paddle. In fact, that’s the only stroke they can do, and it was even named after them. But swimming for dogs is like learning to walk, and even dogs that love water need to adapt to it. If you want to teach your pup to swim, you could try introducing him or her to a small body of water, like a wading pool or a small garden pond. Make sure that you’re watching to make sure it doesn’t get into trouble. If it seems like it isn’t enjoying it, then pull it out. Another way to get your dog to swim is to actually get into the water yourself, or bring along another dog who likes to swim. As they say, you can’t teach old dog new tricks, and like any other skill, this one too is best taught to a young dog.

There are many breeds that make natural swimmers. Dogs that swim include all kinds of Retrievers like the very popular Labrador, Golden Retriever, and the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, most dogs originally bred to help with hunting make good swimmer. There include Spanish and Portuguese water dogs, Water Spaniels, English and Irish Setters, and even the diminutive Poodle, which is also a very intelligent dog.

On the other end of the spectrum are heavy dogs with short legs that may not make very good swimmers. For instance, Basset Hounds or English Bulldogs, both of which are heavy set, do not do too well in the water. Similarly, smaller dogs like dachshunds, which have short legs, also do not make very efficient swimmers.

However, like humans, ability sometimes has little to do with desire. Sometimes, a dog whose breed is known for swimming will eschew water, and other dogs that look like they might sink like a brick, will miss no opportunity to get wet.

Submitted by N M on April 30, 2010 at 03:31


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