Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

Sabal Chase Animal Clinic
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dogs and Swimming



A question I am often asked during the summer is whether or not all dogs instinctively know how
to swim.  Many breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and
Portuguese Water Dogs are both physically built and genetically wired for swimming, while
many other breeds do not fare nearly as well.  Dogs with deep chests, such as Boxers,
Weimaraners, and Great Danes are naturally top heavy, and may or may not be strong enough
to make up for this natural imbalance.  Brachycephalic, or “smushy-­faced” breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers tend to be very poor swimmers and are common victims of
drownings.  While some of these dogs may enjoy the water, my recommendation is to only allow
swimming if the dog is wearing a life ­vest, on a leash, and very closely supervised.


While Dachshunds are not generally a water-­loving loving breed, our little Grendel is a skilled
and enthusiastic swimmer! That being said, she has yet to figure out how to budget enough
energy to return to shore before running out of energy. This is not an uncommon problem, so
dog owners should be certain to teach their dogs how to reach the side of the pool and climb out
unassisted. Consider installing a doggie pool ramp and teaching your dog where it is and how to
use it.  Dogs that swim in natural bodies of water must be taught to return to you on command
without exception.  Since Grendel will not do this consistently, she is only allowed to swim in the
bay attached to a long, extendable leash.  As she ages, we are more inclined to add the life
vest.  It is important to remember our dog’s changing physical abilities as each new summer
rolls around.  Dogs that are elderly, blind, deaf, or prone to seizures must never be left
unattended near any bodies of water or unfenced pools.