February 21, 2019

10 Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim

Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: Pug

As God is my witness, I thought all dogs could swim!

That was until a number of years back when my niece’s Pug, Peanut, did a splashdown in my sister’s backyard pool. At first we thought his cute floundering was just an awkward dog paddle but within seconds we realized it was a genuine struggle and my sister jumped in–fully clothed–to save the little guy.

Truth is, not all breeds can swim well and while an initial doggie paddle may look promising, some pooches can run into trouble pretty quickly and should never be anywhere close to deep water.

Three tips your pooch is not a natural paddler: 1) he has a larger, heavy chest; 2) he has short legs; 3) he has a short muzzle (brachycephalic). Here are the top 10 dog breeds that are just not designed for swimming.


Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: PugA brachycephalic breed of dog, this little guy’s short snout can cause shortness of breath which not only hinders his ability to swim for any length of time but makes it difficult for him to keep his muzzle above water. For flat-faced dogs to be able to keep their nose and mouth above the water-line they need to tilt their head upwards, causing their back end to tuck under their body and them to sink.  A life vest is imperative around pools. (Photo credit: klippel1/Depositphotos)


Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: DachshundAlthough this breed is relatively light-weight and his longer muzzle means he doesn’t run into the same water problems as a Pug or Bulldog, this breed’s short legs means he will never be a strong swimmer and will likely struggle to paddle for any length of time. Water sports should be contained to a sprinkler or a kiddy pool with water no higher than his shoulders. That said they can drown if tuckered out in shallow water so always keep a close eye on your little guy. (Photo credit: vagawi/Flickr)


Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: MalteseWhile this small dog breed doesn’t carry the typical problem traits of non-swimmers with his lighter weight, smaller chest and full muzzle, he can experience challenges related to water play such as chills, arthritis and rheumatism. To ensure all playtime is safe and fun for this mini pooch, best to stick to dry land with games of fetch and catch. (Photo credit: Shek Graham/Flickr)


Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: BulldogThis breed ticks all of those non-swimmer boxes. His short muzzle means he is considered a brachycephalic dog, his barrel chest, large head and short legs mean that he will never be able to paddle fast enough to support his own weight. In fact many breeders and rescue groups will require a home visit to ensure any family swimming pool is safely fenced. If he is to be near water, pet parents should ensure he is always supervised and wearing a life vest. (Photo credit: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock)

Basset Hound

Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: Bassett HoundAlthough this breed holds a record for possessing the world’s longest ears they’re unfortunately not flotation devices and therefore offer no support should this big boy find himself in deep water. In fact, his large head, dense bone structure and disproportionately short legs mean he is incapable of keeping himself afloat for any length of time. With lengthy ears that can be prone to waterborne infections, this natural born tracker would do best as a landlubber. (Photo credit: Grégory Szkudlarek/Flickr)

Chow Chow

Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: Chow ChowWhile we tend to consider larger dogs natural born swimmers, the Chow is an exception to this list because of his deeper chest and shorter legs. The flatter muzzle can also cause him shortness of breath and his thicker, heavy coat can easily become waterlogged and weigh him down. Extra caution should be exercised with this breed and for pet parents with a pool or who enjoy water sports, a properly fitted life vest would be a good investment. (Photo credit: Whitney H/Flickr)


Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: CorgiThis sturdy little breed with the longer muzzle but dense body, large barrel chest and short legs will never be a strong swimmer. While they love the water, best to just let them wade chest-deep if they so desire or fill a kiddy pool during hotter weather and allow them to splash around.  If you take them boating, a life vest is a must. (Photo credit: kent/Flickr)


Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: BoxerThough his long legs may make him look like swimming would be second nature, this breed runs into the same challenges as Boxers and Pugs – he is considered brachycephalic. His flatter face and shorter muzzle means he will struggle to keep his face and nose above water and may run into shortness of breath if left to swim for too long. Water activities should be kept to a romp on the shore, run under the sprinkler or playtime in a kiddy pool versus a swim.  (Photo credit: Tom Wood/Flickr)

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: Staffordshire Bull TerrierWhile this athletic, spirited dog loves his exercise, his solid, dense muscle mass makes him heavier and not inclined to take up swimming. Add to this a head size and weight that tends to be disproportionate to that of his body and you’ll find that it can be very difficult for him to keep his head above water for any length of time. Best to tire him out on land! (Photo credit: Chris Stickley/Flickr)

Shih Tzu

Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim: Shih TzuSimilar to the Maltese, this little guy can quickly catch a chill and although he may give it his best shot, swimming can be a struggle due to his tiny muzzle and small legs. His fuller coat can also become water-logged while swimming, weighing him down, covering his face and making breathing difficult. And remember, tiny dogs can become frightened or nervous in open water, making the overall experience unpleasant.  (Photo credit: Elenarts/Depositphoto)

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