Hot, sticky, and lazy — summer days seem made to be spent poolside.

But while you might consider swimming an easy and relaxing way to idle away an afternoon, your dog may have other ideas. Not all dogs take to the water naturally or happily, and there are lots of dogs who aren’t born knowing how to swim.

In fact, not only do many need to be taught how to swim, certain breeds either can’t swim at all or find it very challenging to do so. So if you’re having trouble coaxing your pup into the water, consider if breed is an issue. Some breeds that have trouble include bulldogs, pugs, corgis, dachshunds, basset hounds, greyhounds, and Scottish and Boston terriers.

But what about those breed that take best to the water? Here are a few of the best swimmers.

Most types of retrievers are also great in the water. Why? Because they were bred to help on the hunt, flushing and retrieving game, which often includes animals in the water.

These dogs were also bred to assist on the hunt, but their job is to locate prey and alert humans about its location by sitting or standing nearby. Being comfortable in the water also helps them to do their job.

It’s likely this breed’s name originates from the German word “Pudeln,” which means “splash in water,” so it’s not a surprise that this breed is made for swimming.

Water spaniels
The state dog of Wisconsin, this pup was bred to be an effective hunting dog, specializing in waterfowl.

This is a rare breed with origins in France. They were also bred for waterfowl hunting.

Portuguese water dogs
This breed was made famous when Bo was adopted by the first family. If you let them, this breed would spend all day in the water.

Spanish water dogs
Despite what the name would suggest, this breed was originally used as a sheepdog and guard, but as a secondary purpose, these pups are used as gundogs that retrieve prey from the water.

These strong dogs were bred to assist fishermen in the water at freezing cold temperatures, and they are also known for water rescues of humans.

This breed is known as a Belgian barge dog because they are used for security and to get rid of pests on boats, like rats.

How to teach a dog to swim

Of course, every dog is different, so be sure to assess your dog’s unique level of comfort and ability before allowing her to plunge in. When introducing your furry friend to water, consider these important safety tips:

Hold swim lessons in a quiet area
Commotion and activity can excite, confuse, and frighten your dog, distracting her from the swim lesson. Choose an area that is quiet, secluded, and safe to conduct your lesson, such as a backyard pool or uncrowded beach.

Be a cheerleader, not a drill sergeant
If your dog is reluctant, do not force or throw him into the water. Instead, encourage him using toys, treats, and positive words.

Help your dog float
Hold up her middle and hind section until she begins to build confidence and paddle effectively.

Teach your dog how to exit
Be sure your dog understands how to exit the water when he wants to by leading him to the pool stairs or other exit. This is a crucial step to prevent drowning.

Consider a life jacket
Going boating? Even a good swimmer can become disoriented after being unexpectedly thrown from a watercraft. Keep your pup safe with a life jacket.

Keep watch
Keep a close eye on your dog, even after she begins swimming more confidently. It’s easy for dogs to swim off and lose their way, especially in large lakes and oceans.

Are you teaching your dog to swim? Share your successes and struggles in the comments.


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