10 Common Dog Breeds That Are Not Natural Swimmers

Although some breeds of dogs are happiest in the water, whether to retrieve a duck, or just a ball, there are some breeds that are simply not designed to swim. Deep chests, large heads, short legs, dense skeletal systems, and short muzzles can all contribute to reduced – or even inability – to swim.

 10 Poorest Canine Swimmers

Below is a list of some of the most popular breeds that are not known for their aquatic capabilities, and the reasons why they aren’t.

  • Dachshund – Their little legs coupled with a long body make it difficult (if not impossible) for them to keep afloat.
  • English Bulldog – This breed has a head that is considered large in comparison to the rest of its body. This, along with having smaller legs and a short muzzle, bulldogs are not made to swim.
  • Pekingese – Having a short muzzle makes drowning a very real threat for this small breed.
  • Pugs – For the same reason as the Pekingese, these guys should be kept away from any deep bodies of water. (Deep being any depth that comes up beyond their legs).
  • Basset Hounds – Not only do these guys have little legs for such a long body (as with the Dachshund), but they also have a denser bone structure which can affect their ability to swim and float.
  • Boxers – Just like with the Pug and Pekingese, Boxers do not make good swimmers because of their short muzzle size.
  • French Bulldogs – Little muzzles are the culprit again, so be careful when taking your Frenchie to the lake or beach.
  • Bull Terrier – Shorter legs, in comparison to its body, and a dense bone structure make swimming difficult for this breed.
  • Chow Chow – A deep chest, legs that are shorter in comparison to its body size, and a short muzzle all add up to a breed that should keep its paws on dry land.
  • Shih Tzu – While it may not be impossible for a Shih Tzu to swim, it can be quite difficult. Little legs and a short muzzle make it hard for them to enjoy the lake or the pool. If they have long hair, this can also add to their difficulty — if their head goes under water, that hair can come down over their face and inhibit their breathing.

Canine Flotation Devices & Other Solutions

If you have one of the above-listed breeds, how do you couple this with your hobby of fishing or going to the beach or just hanging out by the pool? Here are a few solutions that could keep you and your dog both safe and happy:

  • Doggy life jackets are an important piece of equipment for many dogs while swimming, and all dogs while boating. With sizes to fit the tiniest breeds to the largest ones, you will be able to find one to fit your pooch comfortably and securely. There are various types of canine buoyancy jackets and vests, with specific features to suit your needs. For example, boating jackets have a handle on top so that you can easily grab your dog if he or she goes overboard. And, they come in bright colors for visibility in choppy water.


  • Pool Float – If a life jacket isn’t really up your dog’s alley, you can also look into pool floats that are made especially for them from material designed to withstand claws and scratches. Similar in design to some human floats, these allow your pooch to lay on a middle piece (where they can still feel some of the cool water), and simply float around the pool without having to actually swim. Even if you have a breed that is known for its water abilities, if you have an older pet, this can be a great way to include them without worrying about tiring them out or aggravating their joints.
  • Doggy Pool – There is a large variety of pools specifically for dogs of all sizes. These pools are perfect for dogs that cannot swim or older dogs who may not be able to get out of a larger pool. If you travel or just want to have a dog pool party occasionally, there are also travel versions, that fold and are easily emptied.

If your dog is a water hound but not built like one, with the right equipment you can still enjoy the pleasures of pool, beach or boat together!



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