Last Updated/Info Checked on October 18, 2023 by Linda Michaels
One of the most common dog myths is that every dog can swim. Seeing dogs swim on social media and in movies has made the public perceive them as natural swimmers.
However, the truth is far from that. Although many dog species are naturally great swimmers, some are not good at it.
It has a lot to do with a dog’s body form and its training, the former is genetic while the latter can be modified. As mentioned by the AKC, Breeds like Retrievers, Barbets, English Setter, and Water Spaniel are good swimmers while Terriers, Basset Hounds, Pugs, Rottweilers, and Pitbull are not good at swimming.
Rottweilers would need training in order to swim efficiently without the fear of sinking down.
Can Rottweilers Swim?
Due to their large muscle mass and compact build, Rotties don’t tend to be great swimmers but they are quick learners and can be trained to swim.
Also, this varies across the breed and some Rottweilers will be naturally talented swimmers while others will lack the skill completely.
Let’s discuss how you can train your Rottweiler to swim:
1. Start Young
The best time to start teaching your Rottie to swim is during the puppy years.
When they are young, their nervous system is in development making all the neural connections that would work for their entire life. Any skill learned at this stage would get imprinted into their minds and stay for their entire lives.
You can start introducing them to the feeling of being submerged in water during their baths. A bathtub is an excellent place for this, it is calm and cozy and also the safest place for your dog to start getting used to the water.
2. Find A Safe Location
As your Rottie grows and you decide to take it out for the real swimming lessons, begin with the safest spot possible.
Ideally, it should be a location where there is no crowd so that your dog doesn’t feel socially anxious which would hamper any learning. When you can’t find a natural spot, try a convenient swimming pool but avoid the rush hours.
3. Start With Shallow Waters
Building confidence during the initial days of training is very crucial for your dog. Dogs that are rushed into learning new skills often fail terribly and never try to learn them again due to lost confidence and associated apprehensions.
To gain your dog’s confidence, start at shallow spots and then gradually make your way into deeper locations as your dog is learning how to swim.
Let your dog take time as it adjusts itself to one level of depth before moving on to the next.
This is particularly easy to do in most swimming pools that are graded but it might be hard in natural water bodies as they tend to be more or less of equal depth. Also, there isn’t any gradation so it may be dangerous when shifting depths on your whims.
4. Take Safety Measures
Your dog’s safety is of utmost importance. Time and cost should never be a hurdle.
Provide your dog with safety vests. These are filled with air and will keep your dog afloat even when the dog doesn’t know how to swim.
Choose places where you know about the water quality and depth. Check the water temperature before letting your dog dive into it.
These measures are more easily taken care of in swimming pools than in natural swimming spots. It is better to start in the former before taking your dog out into the latter.
5. Be With Your Pooch
Your presence is very important for your dog for multiple reasons.
Firstly, It would allow you to keep an eye on your dog and be ready to respond whenever the need arises.
Secondly, It would be a great opportunity for you and your family to bond with your dog as your dog will perceive it as a group activity.
Finally, from your dog’s perspective, it will feel the comfort of home and will not get anxious and fearful.
6. Make It A Sport
Every dog breed has exercise needs that need to be met daily and so do Rottweilers. Turning swimming into a sport will not just make it more fun but also will fulfill your Rottie’s daily exercise needs.
It will also ingrain a sense of playmate-ship into the learning process and your dog will be more engaged in it, both physically and mentally.
You can try playing ball games or fetch or even team plays in the water. Then there is also paddle boarding, surfing, and dog diving to be played at places that allow for these games.
7. Bring Other Dogs
Dogs learn and adapt quickly, especially to their kind. Having your Rottie swim with other dogs who are good at it will be a great opportunity for your dog to learn.
It is better to have other pets that your dog is used to than having random playmates.
8. Follow A Schedule
Any skill that is learned and not maintained with a routine is lost quickly. Swimming is just like any other sporting skill, one has to do it regularly to maintain form.
Make a schedule for your dog and try to stick to it. You can alternate between different water sports to make it less mundane. Having company is also a great way to keep it interesting.
Reasons why Rottweilers are not good swimmers
Here’s why your Rottie may not be able to swim even after lessons.
1. Bred For Land
Rottweilers were bred to be used on land. Initially, they used to guide cattle. Later, their muscular build and obedience led them to be used for police and military purposes. Today, they are used as either companions or guard dogs.
Never have they ever been trained for water sports in the past, so such traits did not pass in their lineage.
2. Body Shape
Rottweiler’s body is very muscular and these muscles are packed tightly making the body very dense.
Their big heads have a lot of mass and come with strong muzzles. The hind legs are a little longer than the forelegs.
These features make them generally poor swimmers and Rotties are more likely to sink rather than remain afloat.
3. No Earlier Exposure
Even the breeds and lineages that are supposed to be naturally good at swimming may show reluctance when they haven’t been exposed earlier in their puppy years.
This is because activities that a dog performs during the development of its brain are ingrained and become a part of the dog’s behavior. It is hard to adapt to new things during adulthood and requires extra effort and proper training.
Assess Your Dog Before Training
As mentioned earlier, every Rottweiler is different and unique. Some are more talented at particular sports than others.
You would need to assess your Rottie’s swimming skills prior to training. This would provide you with the basis for where to start. It can save you a lot of time and trouble with dogs that are naturally gifted and do not need to be trained from the beginning.
Benefits Of Swimming For Dogs
Swimming has many benefits for dogs both as a sport and outside that.
It is a great way to exercise their muscles. Also, it can be used as a group sport to inculcate a sense of comradeship in your dog.
A good session of swimming will tire your dog out, allowing it to relax and sleep better at home.
Finally, during the summer months, swimming is a great way to dissipate heat. It keeps the body cool and fresh. Additionally, it will keep your dog clean as well.
People Also Asked
Let me answer some common questions asked by Rottweiler owners.
Are Rottweilers strong swimmers?
Rottweilers are not good swimmers by their nature. Their strong muscular build and dense bodies make them excellent for land use such as herding cattle or rescue missions with police and the military.
Do Rottweilers have webbed feet?
As a breed raised for use only on land, Rottweilers never developed webbed feet. That is also the reason they are not natural swimmers, unlike Poodles and Retrievers.
Do Rottweilers Like Water? Conclusion
Swimming comes with a lot of benefits for your dog. It is a great physical activity and keeps your dog’s energy drained for better sleep. Also, it’s a great way to fight the summer heat when it becomes too hot.
However, Some breeds are naturally better at swimming than others due to their morphology and easy trainability. Rottweilers, although not a natural breed when it comes to swimming, do learn fast.
Their muscular and dense bodies with large, heavy heads and a lack of webbed feet make them prone to sink in water rather than being afloat.
With proper training, you can make them into good swimmers. The earlier you start the better, make a proper routine for them and train them with adequate safety measures. Skills take time to learn, do not rush into things as this would have negative effects.