Can all dogs swim?

April 13, 2012

All dogs bark… all dogs have the penchant to chew and dig… all dogs beg for food… all dogs can sense an eerie presence… all dogs can swim. These are only some of the facts and fallacies associated with dog ownership. Which one is true which one is not? Not all dogs bark. A Basenji for instance makes unique growling and whining sounds but this breed does not bark. Some breeds are voracious eaters some would be snooty and would turn up their noses on food offered by the master. Dog are supposed to be good swimmers after all, the doggie paddle swimming stroke was coined from the way a dog swims. Dogs not only make wonderful playmates in the pool or in the lake. These animals have saved countless lives from drowning. Unfortunately, not all dogs can swim. Retrievers are supposed to take to water like a duck but believe it or not a Golden Retriever, in spite of the family name may be terrorized by the idea of paddling. Dogs, even of the same breed differ not only in appearance and in temperament but in capabilities as well.

Some breeds have excellent aquatic tendencies. Retriever breeds, Spanish Water Dogs, Irish Water Spaniel and Irish Setter, the Newfoundland, the Portuguese Water Dog are some of the breeds noted for their outstanding swimming abilities. Some of these breeds are even web footed. Swimming lesson will not be necessary for these breeds. These canine splashers make a suitable choice for an active owner that loves frolicking in the water.

Some breed’s effort to swim will be hampered by the conformation. A short legged toy breed would find it difficult to tread water. Heavy bodied dogs would sink like a sack of rocks even in not so deep water. Bulldogs, dachshunds, basset hounds, pugs corgis, greyhounds, Scottish and Boston terriers would find swimming difficult. A dog may be capable of swimming but due to a medical concern may not be able to. A Maltese for instance may have the ability to swim but because rheumatism and arthritis is a common concern of the breed, even a heated pool may not be a good idea.

How would you know if the dog is a non-swimmer? Not all dogs love the water but like humans, dogs in deep water would instinctively paddle. A telltale sign though is when the dog frantically slaps the water and uses its front legs to get out. This action is a sign that you have to provide the dog with a PFD or a personal flotation device whenever the dog is in the proximity of a body of water. The life vest would certainly save the life of the pet. A non-swimming dog that fell on the pool cannot doggie paddle indefinitely. Exhaustion, hypothermia or a bump in the head will make the dog head to dog heaven.

The word “water” in the breed name signifies that an owner would have a rather hard time keeping the dog on dry land as the dog would jump on the water with alacrity. A potential owner set on having a dog for sailing and swimming jaunts would best opt for one of these breeds that would grab every chance to swim. Dogs though are intelligent creatures. If it is possible to teach them tricks it would also be possible to make the dog love the water. The trick is to build the confidence of the dog. This can be done by introducing the pet to water gradually. It would never be a good idea to throw the dog in the water or to force the pet. It would also be a good idea to teach the dog how to swim while still a puppy when it is still manageable.

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