Dog breeds that can't swim

Floaties Required

What better way to cool down from a hot day than by taking a refreshing dip in the pool with your favorite four-legged friend? Swimming with Fido can be a great bonding experience, but not all pups were made for paddling. Some breeds prefer staying on dry land, and some breeds simply weren't born for water. Find out which pups are better-off keeping their paws on solid ground.


This adorable breed is best known for quirky snorts and a smooshed-in face. What makes pugs the comical canines we know and love also makes them a water-safety hazard. The short snouts that adorn their darling faces are fully responsible for the shortness of breath and lack of stamina that keeps this breed from swimming laps around the pool. If your pug is a water lover, be sure to keep a close eye on him and encourage plenty of breaks in between swim sessions. To prevent fatigue, try a doggy life vest to help keep your pug afloat without the effort.


Much like their short-legged counterparts, dachshunds can be taught to swim but might be better-off using their natural abilities to stay entertained. With wee legs barely long enough to paddle, these playful pups prefer a variety of dry land activities including hunting, burrowing and anything that keeps them on the go. If your hot-dog enjoys a summer cool down, water-filled toys and even a quick (and supervised) dip in a doggy pool provide safe alternatives for playtime activities.


Sturdy and low to the ground, bulldogs are best fit for dry-land activities. Due to their compact body, heavy body-shape and short legs, paddling fast enough to support their weight can be a challenge. A poolside doggy bed with lots of summertime toys can provide a safer alternative for spending water time with your pooch. If your bulldog must get in the water, make sure a helping hand is around at all times.

Basset HoundsBasset hounds

Holding the record for the world's longest ears, the basset hound was bred for land activities like hunting and tracking. With short legs and a dense bone structure, bassets will gladly sniff out a trail so long as water is not an obstacle. For cool summer bonding time, try freezing healthy snacks for your basset to sniff out. This will allow your dogs' natural hunting abilities to shine through while getting rewarded with a cool treat.


Cute and cuddly, the Maltese feels better on your lap than treading water. While this breed is fully capable of paddling, other health issues may arise from water play. Prone to chills, arthritis and rheumatism, taking your Maltese on a swimming adventure could further worsen these common breed concerns. No matter what season, Maltese pups are happy anytime they can curl up with their owners.

More on pet summer safety

Keep pets safe from heat
Top 10 road trip must-haves for pets
Summer safety tips for your dog



Comments on "Dog breeds that can't swim"

Sarah April 07, 2014 | 6:20 AM

Our English Bull Terrier sank like a rock upon going into Barton Springs. He would have drowned except for my niece diving in and pushing him out. If he has a doggie life vest on, he can just keep his head above water. Even so, he loves to swim so you have to watch him or he will take a plunge without the vest. Luckily there is not a lot of water in Texas.

Helen May 22, 2013 | 11:25 AM

My wiener dog loves nothing more than to swim. It's all she ever wants to do. We live in Chicago, across the street from Lake Michigan. She lives for the lake. At first, she just liked to chase sticks at the beach. Then I started tossing the sticks in the water, which she would happily retrieve. Before long, any stick I tossed on dry land, she would run back to the water with it and drop it in the water. It didn't take long for her to start swimming out into the lake with the big dogs and happily paddle back to shore with her prize. Those little weenie legs haven't deterred her one bit. Maybe she's just a prodigy.

Sculptures April 11, 2013 | 3:30 PM

well i learnt something new today that much i can say lol :-) Sculptures

Julia June 05, 2012 | 12:53 PM

Wow, I’m glad I saw this since I will be babysitting a family that just recently purchased a dog that’s part basset hound. In the past, they have always owned bigger breeds, such as the rot wailer and Labradors. This is the first time they have owned a smaller dog, and with four young kids between the ages of 5-12, the dogs tend to have lots of energy. Since they have just moved to their new home, they now have a pool installed. This is good information to know about these dogs, as I know the youngest child would definitely try to bring the dog in the pool with her as it follows her everywhere. Is there a way to teach these dogs to swim or is it genetic that it would be nearly impossible to paddle? He is three years old so I wonder if he is old enough to know he can’t swim or not. I worry that they may be inclined to jump in the pool if one of the kids forces him to or feels the need to join us since he is always at our side. I have nannied young children that have had their dogs join us for a swim as if he’s been swimming for the dog olympics. I will definitely keep this in mind the next time I’m over as summer is approaching, I know we will be poolside for the upcoming months.

Liz June 05, 2012 | 10:21 AM

Beagles CAN swim, but from what I've learned from having two, they aren't the biggest fans!

Yi-Fan June 05, 2012 | 10:11 AM

Wow, I see my dog is in this category. It is deferentially can't swim and climb stairs.

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