Can Pitbulls Swim
Dog Care Tips · Dog Exercise

Can Pitbulls Swim? 7 Ways You Can Teach Them To Swim

Last Updated/Info Checked on October 18, 2023 by Linda Michaels

Some dogs are natural swimmers like the Golden Retrievers or the American Water Spaniel while others like the Pugs, Australian Shepherds, Terriers, Rottweilers, or Boxers face enormous challenges in water due to their body types.

Due to their dense body mass, large heads, and short hind legs, Pitbulls don’t have a natural aptitude for swimming. However, with proper dog training and skill development, you can have a Pitbull that swims through the waters rather than sinking in.

Can Pitbulls Swim? 2 Reasons They Can’t

Can Pitbulls Swim? 2 Reasons They Can't

Although not naturally inclined to be good swimmers, Pitbulls can be trained to swim when exposed to water at a younger age and with proper precautions. More so when they see it as a fun activity rather than something they just have to do in hot weather. 

Before going into the details of how you can train your Pitbull to swim, let’s have an understanding of why your dog might not be able to dive into waters as naturally as some other breeds.

Unfamiliar To Swimming

Dogs that haven’t been exposed to water earlier in their lives have a hard time adjusting to swimming.

They tend to get anxious and fidgety around water bodies and may panic themselves into sinking to the bottom.

Not The Body Type For Swimming

Pitbulls have a unique shape as compared to most other breeds.

They have a compact physique, their body mass is not spread over a wide area, which makes them denser, increasing their chances to sink rather than staying afloat.

Also, their shorter legs mean they cannot provide a bigger thrust to push their bodies forward against water.

Finally, their larger heads relative to their bodies add an extra disproportion to their weight distribution. Pitbulls are brachycephaly, which means they have a short muzzle and it is difficult for them to keep their nose above the water’s surface.

Can Pitbulls Swim? - Infographic

7 Steps To Teaching A Pitbull How To Swim

Swimming brings many benefits to dogs. It is a great sporting activity that keeps them engaged both physically and mentally. This fulfills their daily exercise requirements and they would fall asleep easily after a short period of swimming.

During the summer months, swimming can be an effective way of regulating body temperature.

Moreover, it can be made into a fun activity that you can engage in with your dog. This will strengthen the bond between you and your pooch. 

Now it’s time to discuss the various ways you can train your Pitbull to be a swimmer:

1. Train Them Young

Dogs need to be desensitized to water during their earlier days. This would minimize the anxiety and fear associated with swimming.

One easy way to do this is while bathing them, you can create a small pool of water in the bathtub and have them play in it. This would make them used to being in the water without any apprehension.

2. Start Shallow

When you decide to take them out for a swim, start with the shallowest waters possible. 

It is easy to do in graded swimming pools and may be difficult in natural waters where the depth is uneven and difficult to predict.

Once they get used to a certain depth, increase it and keep doing it gradually as they get accustomed to it. This way you will be able to make them swim in adult pools as they train more and more.

Although your pooch may not be able to touch the floor of a pool or puddle on even the shallower levels, the sense of security that it provides aids a lot in boosting their confidence for swimming. 

3. Use a Swimming Vest

For dogs that are not natural swimmers, additional precautionary measures are taken in the form of swimming vests.

This would aid them in swimming as they are kept afloat by the air in the vest. Also, you as an owner will be more relaxed knowing that your pooch is safe even when it doesn’t know how to swim properly.

4. Swim With Your Dog

Swimming with your dogs will give them confidence and they will start seeing this activity as a means of bonding with you.

In this way, you can also keep an eye on them and help them swim whenever needed.

It is important to stay calm in the waters, Pitbulls are smart enough to sense their master’s emotions. They will get more fearful seeing you panic and may sink due to anxious movements.

5. Have Fun

Any activity that has an element of fun associated with it tends to attract more attention and focus. 

You can add a touch of water sports to swimming. Games like Paddleboarding, retrieval, diving, and ball sports are as enjoyable as they are good at teaching your dog swimming skills.

Related: Why are Pitbulls so clingy?

6. Make Your Pitbull Swim With Other Dogs

Dogs imitate each other a lot. If your pooch is struggling with how to swim properly, you should have it take a go at swimming with other dogs that are good at swimming.

Your pooch will try to learn from their movements and it will also instill a sense of playmates-ship that makes it easier for your dog to adjust to this activity.

I have a trained Pitbull that loves to play with my German Shepherd puppy. They both enjoy swimming as well.

7. Make A Routine

Skills that are not honed regularly are bound to be forgotten. So is the case with swimming.

Your pooch’s swimming skills will decline greatly when not done regularly. Make a routine for swimming and follow it, your dog won’t get bored when you keep it fun and interesting.

People Also Ask

Below are some questions that you may want to know their answers.

What breeds of dogs can’t swim?

Generally, breeds having a heavier build with dense muscles and short legs cannot thrust their bodies enough during swimming and so cannot swim unless trained.
This includes Dachshunds, Pitbulls, Basset Hounds, Boxers, Pugs, Corgis, Shih Tzus, and other similar breeds.

Do Pitbulls have a hard time swimming?

Owing to their dense physique and short limbs, Pitbulls have a hard time swimming. However, they can be trained to swim easily with some routine training and safety measures.

Do Pitbulls have webbed feet?

As purebred, Pitbulls do not have webbed feet. Hence they struggle with swimming.
But some Pitbulls may have webbed feet, this indicates that their lineage is not pure and they had some webbed ancestors.

Do Pitbulls Like Water? Final Words

Swimming is a great sporting activity that keeps a dog mentally and physically engaged and also is a good way of getting away from the heat during the summer months.

Unfortunately, not all dogs are naturally good at it due to their physique and that includes Pitbulls as well. Such dogs easily get apprehended when they try to swim and may drown in deeper waters.

However, almost every dog breed can be trained easily to swim. You need to train them during their pup years. It is better to start at home and in shallower waters before you take them out to pools or in natural waters. 

Also, dogs learn better in their own company so you can bring other dogs that are more trained to swim with your pooch.

The more fun and engaging you can make it, the better would be your dog’s participation and the easier it will be for your pooch to learn.

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