Can Small Dogs Swim?

Whether it be in their backyard or in the ocean, everyone enjoys taking a swim during the summertime. Oftentimes, too, their four-legged friends like to join them. However, there is a common misconception that all dogs can swim. While some are natural born swimmers, others should avoid the water at all costs. Small dogs in particular fall into the latter category.

Some can, but some can’t

The short answer of “can small dogs swim?” is that some can, but some can’t. The best swimmers are dogs that are typically medium to large in size and have webbing in between their toes (some examples are retrievers and labs). This, of course, excludes all small dogs, but that doesn’t mean they all can’t swim. Dogs that don’t do well in water have short legs and large chests, as they’re unable to stay afloat. Many small dogs fall into this category, including dachshunds, shih tzus, pugs, and corgis. However, there are some small dogs that have longer legs and smaller chests, and thus are more adept at learning to swim (Maltese and chihuahuas fall into this category).

How to teach a dog to swim

If your small dog has short legs and large chests, then you should keep them away from the water at all costs. However, if they’re in the category of longer legs and smaller chests, then while swimming may not come naturally, they can still be taught. Start, first, by getting a life vest for your pup and let them wear around the house in order to them comfortable with it. Then, once they’re comfortable with the life vest on land, you can take them into water. Keep them in the shallow end, though, and stay by them at all times. Gradually, your small dog may not need the life vest, but always keep them in the shallow end just in case. Keep in mind, though, that some dogs simply don’t like the water. So if they’re not interested in swimming, don’t force it on them.

Still have questions about whether your small dog can swim or not? Then feel free to contact Pauley Pups at 804-798-7877. Or if you’re thinking about adopting a dog, then check out our available puppies here!