Do All Dogs Know How To Swim?

Melissa Locker
·2 min read

The so-called dog paddle is one of the first strokes that human swimmers tend to master. It's a an easy and seemingly natural stroke that keeps you afloat and moseying across the water. It also looks an awful lot like the namesake maneuver pups do when they take a dip in the lake. Since presumably no one taught their labradoodle how to paddle and they just come by it naturally, is it safe to assume all dogs know how to swim? It all depends on the breed.

Some dog breeds were intended to be swimmers, according to Daily Paws. That includes golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers and most of the dogs that help out on hunts. As Daily Paws notes, some breeds are so known for their love of getting wet that they "even have water in their name." The American Kennel Club lists 16 different breeds that were born to swim, including the American Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Otterhounds, and the Irish Water Spaniel, which is one of the oldest spaniel breeds and has very water-resistant coat.

Of course, like with people, whether a dog can swim is still a different conversation than whether they enjoy swimming. My terrier couldn't stay afloat, my chihuahua could swim, but hated it, while my Welsh Corgi, a breed not known for their swimming prowess, used to dive straight into the pond at the local park and I'd be stuck on the shore holding the leash while she went paddling after the geese.

To find out whether your dog likes the water, Daily Paws suggests getting in the water yourself. Suit up, wade out, and if your pup follows and seems to enjoy it, you may have a swimming companion. Just be mindful that your dog can safely get in and out of the lake, pool, or ocean, here are some suggestions on how to help keep them safe while they enjoy the water.