Can Australian Shepherds Swim?

Australian Shepherds are a hardworking breed who enjoy outdoor activities like running and swimming.

Find out what makes Australian Shepherds natural-born swimmers and whether they really have webbed feet.

Learn whether Australian Shepherds like the water and swimming, and what to do if your Australian Shepherd doesn’t like to swim. 

Read up on the essential safety tips for swimming with your dog and what you shouldn’t do when introducing your Australian Shepherd to water. 

Learn why swimming is good for Australian Shepherds, how old they should be before they start swimming, and how long they should swim for. 

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Australian Shepherd dog breed

Can Australian Shepherds Swim?

Yes. Australian Shepherds can swim. 

While not specifically bred for the water they are quick to take to it because of their adventurous and outdoorsy nature. 

Introduce your Aussie to a pool and it will only take a few minutes for them to learn how to swim. 

They may seem scared or intimidated at first, but they will quickly overcome this fear with a short session every day.

Slowly build up their time in the water until they can enjoy a good 30-minute session of exercise and play in the water.

Even Miniature Australian Shepherds can swim. We recommend teaching them how to swim at a young age so that they will be comfortable with water as they grow up. 

Are Australian Shepherds Natural Swimmers?

Australian Shepherds are not natural swimmers like the Labrador Retriever or the Irish Water Spaniel.

Bred as herding dogs, Aussies are made for outdoor activities. They have a double coat, so they can withstand cooler water temperatures. 

With an amazing athletic ability and playful attitude, you can see how they might enjoy swimming as a form of exercise. 

Australian Shepherds are naturally intelligent. Whatever skill you are trying to teach them, they will quickly learn and enjoy.

But intelligent dogs need plenty of mental stimulation. So, make sure you keep teaching them new tricks and games in the water.

Australian Shepherds’ ability to swim does not depend on their physical features but their athletic performance and attitude.

Do Australian Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?

Australian Shepherds do not have webbed feet. 

We think that all dog breeds have webbed feet. This is partially true but not all webbed feet are the same. 

Water dog breeds have thicker webbed feet that help them swim faster, and for longer periods of time. 

Some breeds’ paws have evolved into webbed feet so that they may be able to swim better and dig deeper. 

Unfortunately, Aussies only have thin webbing between their toes.

If your Australian Shepherd has webbed toes, they are most likely a crossbreed with another breed that has webbed feet, such as Golden Retrievers. 

The outcome is an Australian Retriever who has the energetic attitude of an Australian Shepherd and the natural swimmer characteristic of a Golden Retriever. 

Webbed feet are one of the key features of a dog who’s a natural swimmer. But this doesn’t mean that Australian Shepherds are not built for water activities. 

Their herding instinct and stamina make them suited for swimming for a long time. 

Do Australian Shepherds Like to Swim?

Australian Shepherds are one of the most energetic and playful dog breeds, so they will naturally enjoy swimming. 

Because they were bred to herd, they also enjoy other outdoor activities like running, hiking, playing Frisbee, or simply exploring around the park.

While Australian Shepherds like to swim, they are not always as excited about it as water breeds like Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. 

Some Australian Shepherds would rather chase and play fetch because their minds are more engaged, and the activity is more aligned with their herding instincts. 

In short, their feet would rather be on the ground. 

Still, if you give the Australian Shepherd a chance to swim, they will take to it as a way to exercise and mentally stimulate themselves.

However, like all dogs, Australian Shepherds are individual in their preferences and attitude toward swimming. Some dogs enjoy swimming, while others don’t.

If your Australian Shepherd doesn’t like swimming, one possible reason is a traumatic experience in the past which they associate with swimming pools or beaches.

Don’t force your dog if they don’t want to go in the water.

Do Australian Shepherds Like Water?


Australian Shepherds have neutral feelings toward the water in general. While they may prefer running on dry land, they can enjoy themselves in the water as well.

Some dogs enjoy shallow pools where their feet can still touch the ground but may hate it when the pool is too deep that they have to paddle. 

Other Australian Shepherds love playing in waves but not stagnant waters. 

The best way to find out if your Australian Shepherd enjoys the water is by taking them swimming to different bodies of water.

Always start with your backyard pool or a kiddy pool, then move to open waters like the lake or ocean. Make sure to keep them safe while swimming.

If your dog tries to avoid not just pools and lakes but also fountains and showers, they probably have a fear of water that needs to be addressed. 

What if My Australian Shepherd Doesn’t Like to Swim?

You should never force your dog to swim if they do not want to. Never throw them into the pool in an attempt to teach them how to stay afloat. 

This is unsafe and inhumane. 

Some signs that your Australian Shepherd doesn’t like to swim include avoiding the pool, trying to get back on land if they are in the pool, and feeling nervous around water. 

If you want your Australian Shepherd to enjoy swimming, it will take time and patience. Ease them into the water with positive reinforcement techniques. 

They will learn best if you encourage them and give them praises. Take them to the shallow part of the water first then hold their torso when they paddle for the first time.

Keep training and rewarding your dog regularly, and make sure they don’t get overly tired during the first few sessions. 

Otherwise, they can associate swimming with bad experiences and emotions.

Safety Tips for Swimming with Your Australian Shepherd 

Dog Swim Safety Gear

Make sure your Australian Shepherd wears a life vest or jacket when swimming. 

This is important, especially for puppies who don’t know how to swim yet, as well as senior dogs. 

Check out our recommendations for the best dog swimming gear.

Check the Temperature of the Water

Make sure the water temperature is just right to reduce the risk of frostbite or hypothermia. 

Even though Australian Shepherds have double coats, they still can’t handle water that is too cold.

The general rule is, if it’s too cold for you, then it’s too cold for your dog. 

Learn more about whether dogs can swim in cold water.

Don’t Let Your Dog Drink Ocean Water

Drinking too much ocean water can make your dog sick. This goes for pool water as well.

To prevent this, always provide your Australian Shepherd with plenty of fresh, cold drinking water before and after swim sessions. 

Always Watch Your Dog

You should always keep your eye on your Aussie when they are swimming. And remain within their reach in case they get into trouble.

Be ready to grab hold of them when you see they are struggling in the water, so you can guide them out of the pool or water.

Don’t Do This When Introducing Your Australian Shepherd to Water

Never throw your dog into the water in an attempt to train them.

Not only can this lead to drowning and anxiety, but it can also be grounds for animal abuse. 

There is nothing wrong with having a dog who dislikes swimming.

  • Never let your dog swim alone. If no one is around to watch them, the pool must be inaccessible to your dog. 
  • Your backyard pool should have a fence around it for safety. Be sure your dog cannot jump the fence and keep the gate locked at all times.
  • Any kiddy pools should be covered over or emptied when not in use.
  • If you’re still on your first few sessions of swimming lessons, don’t let your dog swim for a long time because they may immediately feel tired. 
  • 10 to 15 minutes a day is a good workout for dogs new to swimming.

Is Swimming Good for Australian Shepherds?

Swimming is a good workout for Australian Shepherds because it gets their whole body moving at a low intensity and with a low impact. 

Australian Shepherds have high energy levels because they were bred to herd sheep. They need plenty of exercise like walking, running, or playing fetch. 

But swimming may serve as a better outlet for their excessive energy because it also mentally stimulates them.

Swimming is an enjoyable way to bond with your dog. It will build skills, trust, and enhance your relationship.

Last but not least, swimming will keep your dog cool in the summer. Dogs with double coats can get hot during the summer. 

Taking a dip is the best way for you both to cool off.

Find out more about why swimming is good for dogs here.

How Old Should Your Australian Shepherd Puppy Be Before They Start Swimming?

You should start teaching your dog to swim as early as possible. 

Your Australian Shepherd should at least be ten weeks old before you can teach them how to swim. 

It’s important to take it slow when you’re training your puppy how to swim. This means introducing them to the shallow part of the pool to start with. 

Some owners even start by training them in the tub or an inflatable pool. 

Once they are comfortable with taking a dip, you can teach them how to paddle in the deeper parts of the pool.

Learn more about how old your puppy should be and how to introduce your puppy to swimming.

How Long Can Australian Shepherds Swim For?

It depends on how well they can swim already. Dogs, in general, can swim for 15 to 30 minutes every day. 

If your Australian Shepherd is still learning how to swim, they should only be in the water for around 10 to 15 minutes. 

As they become better at swimming, you can increase the time they spend in the water.

Because Australian Shepherds are naturally athletic, when they are expert swimmers, they can spend up to an hour swimming.

Make sure not to leave your Aussie unattended when swimming. No matter how good they are, they may still need your help getting out of the water.

Find out more about how long dogs can swim for.

Can My Australian Shepherd Swim in My Pool?

Yes. Australian Shepherds can swim in your pool. 

Keep in mind that dog hair and dander can affect the pool pump, but it won’t cause damage if you regularly maintain it. 

To avoid dry fur, irritated skin, and swollen eyes, post-swimming care is important to get rid of the chlorine or salt from their body and to detangle their fur.

Make sure your dog doesn’t drink too much chlorine water. A little won’t hurt them, but too much can cause an upset stomach, nausea, and lethargy. 

Provide plenty of fresh, clean water to keep them hydrated during and after their swimming sessions.

Find out more about dog safety in backyard pools.

Australian Shepherds Can Excel at Swimming

Australian Shepherds are great at almost all energetic sports. 

While they are not naturally bred for swimming, they will still enjoy learning how to swim and getting wet.

Make sure they are equipped with the right swimming gear and only let them swim for a short time, to begin with.

Find out if the Great Pyrenees is a natural swimmer.