Can Shih Tzus Swim?

Shih Tzus are one of the most adorable dog breeds because of their outgoing, happy, and playful nature.

So, you might automatically think that they will love swimming and being in water.

Yes, Shih Tzus can swim, but they don’t all enjoy it.

Find out whether Shih Tzus can swim, and if they like the water.

Learn how to teach your Shih Tzu to swim, and what to do if they don’t like it. 

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Shih Tzu dog breed

Can Shih Tzus Swim?

Yes. Shih Tzus can swim but they are not good at it. 

A Shih Tzu can skillfully paddle in the pool but only for a short time. But because of their small bodies, they can’t swim for a long time. 

All dogs can learn to swim because of their instinctual ability. Whether they are tall, short, heavy, or not, dogs can paddle and stay afloat. 

The better question to ask is if Shih Tzus are good swimmers. 

Shih Tzus are not good swimmers because of their weak stamina and poor physical structure. 

However, Shih Tzus are quick learners. They can paddle efficiently the first time their paws reach water, but they’re not strong enough to stay in the water for long.

You can teach your Shih Tzu to swim for a few minutes in a shallow pool. This will keep them cool in the summer and build their confidence in water. 

Teaching your dog to swim is also important for them to gain survival skills in case they fall in the pool or ocean. 

Watch as Chase the Shih Tzu happily swims in the pool.

Are Shih Tzus Natural Swimmers?

No. Shih Tzus are not natural swimmers.

They do not have the physical traits of water breeds.

While they’re fast learners, their small bodies can get tired easily.

They need extra effort to propel in water because of their short legs. 

As a brachycephalic breed, their nostrils are almost non-existent, so the airway is blocked.

They cannot breathe easily when swimming and performing other activities compared to other dogs.

Their muzzles are also small, so they need to stretch their head above the water to avoid inhaling water.

Shih Tzus also have thick fur, which can get heavy when soaked. Heavy, soaked fur can make it difficult for them to paddle. 

They need extra effort to stay afloat. You can avoid this by having them wear a dog life jacket. 

Because of these traits, Shih Tzus can only swim short distances for a short time.

Do Shih Tzus Have Webbed Feet?

Yes. Shih Tzus have webbed feet, but they are not designed for swimming.

Contrary to popular belief, all dogs have webbed feet. Try running your finger on your dog’s toes and you will feel a thin layer of skin between their toes. 

Unlike water breeds, Shih Tzus only have thin-webbed feet that are not sufficient enough to make them good swimmers. 

These thin skin membranes that connect their toes cannot push enough water to make them fast swimmers.

Their webbed feet are only ideal for walking rocky and muddy surfaces.

Do Shih Tzus Like to Swim?

Shih Tzus do not like to swim. 

Even though Shih Tzus can learn to swim right away, they will likely not enjoy swimming. 

Most brachycephalic dogs dislike swimming. Brachycephalic dogs have small nuzzles and hollow nostrils, which can make breathing difficult.

Swimming, running, and heavy exercise can be exhausting for them. 

Shih Tzus can also dislike swimming because of fear. This breed is not the boldest and most adventurous. 

They would rather be pampered at home than swimming in the pool. 

But this can vary depending on a dog’s individual personality. Adventurous dogs may adore it. Treats can also help Shih Tzus enjoy swimming.

Or they may like swimming because they’re in the pool with you. 

Whether your Shih Tzu loves swimming or not, you still must train them the basics to avoid unwanted accidents like near-drowning.

Do Shih Tzus Like Water?

No. Shih Tzus do not like water.

Many Shih Tzus do not like water in any form. They simply do not like being wet.

They would rather stay indoors than be at the shore of a beach playing frisbee. Try setting up a kiddie pool and see if your Shih Tzu is willing to get in. 

The pool should be shallow enough that it only reaches half-way up their legs

Shih Tzus are simply afraid of water. This is why it’s usually hard to bathe this breed.

Some signs of fear of the water in dogs include:

  • shivering
  • pacing
  • moving away from the water
  • trying to hide from it.

Help them overcome their fear by bathing them regularly. Once they’re used to the water, they may enjoy different activities that will keep them cool in the summer.

Again, every dog is different. Other dogs enjoy splashing around the shallow part of the pool, but some shriek at the sight of water. 

Train your dog to love water the way these Shih Tzus and Dachshund love swimming.

What if My Shih Tzu Doesn’t Like to Swim?

If your Shih Tzu doesn’t like to swim, there is no need to force them. 

It’s enough that they were trained to stay afloat in the water to keep them safe.

Teach your Shih Tzu the basics of swimming at a young age.

  • Choose a safe, shallow area for them to swim in. 
  • Support their body as they learn to paddle.
  • Pick them up and hold them with one hand under their stomach.
  • Give them treats to encourage them.

Once your dog learns this skill, there’s nothing to worry about anymore. 

It’s okay if they dislike the activity. What matters is that they learn this skill for their safety.

Safety Tips for Swimming with Your Shih Tzu

The most important safety tip for swimming with your Shih Tzu is to have them wear a dog life jacket.

This breed’s legs are too small to keep paddling. Their hair can also get heavy when saturated in water, making them submerge. 

A life jacket will require less effort to move their legs. It will make swimming more enjoyable for them.

Here are some safety tips when swimming with your Shih:

  • Offer them a bowl of fresh water before, during and after swimming to keep them from drinking pool water.
  • Do not leave them unattended.
  • Don’t let them swim when the water is too cold. 

Find out how pool water affects your dog and how to avoid these side effects.

Don’t Do This When Introducing Your Shih Tzu to Water

Here are some things you should avoid when introducing your Shih to water.

  • Never throw them in the pool.
  • Do not leave them unattended.
  • Do not force them if they don’t want to swim.

Forcing your Shih in the water can cause injury, near-drowning, and anxiety attacks.

They will carry this experience their whole life and will make them dislike swimming.

The best way to introduce your Shih Tzu to water is by using treats and praises. 

Make their first swimming lesson a positive experience so they develop confidence in the pool.

Even the best dog swimmers will need your help getting out of the pool if they are fatigued.

Find out all about the best swimming gear for dogs.

Is Swimming Good for Shih Tzus?

Yes. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise for dogs. 

Here are some incredible benefits of swimming for Shih Tzus:

  • It’s a good cardio workout for their entire body.
  • Swimming tones the muscles.
  • It helps improve breathing, and aids in cardiovascular health.
  • Great for weight loss exercise.
  • A good way to cool down during summer to avoid heatstroke.

Find out more benefits of swimming for your dog so you can consider it as an alternative exercise for your Shih Tzu.

How Old Should Your Shih Tzu Puppy Be Before They Start Swimming?

Your Shih Tzu should be around 10 weeks old before they start learning how to swim.

But you can introduce them to shallow waters like the bathtub or kiddie pool as early as ten weeks old. Familiarize them with the feeling of having their body sunken in water.

Once they feel comfortable, you can move to the shallow part of your pool. Teach them how to paddle and stay afloat.

Your Shih Tzu is likely to learn how to do this the first time, but they will need assistance for swimming in deeper areas.

Learn how old your dog should be before they can swim in the deep area of the swimming pool.

How Long Can Shih Tzus Swim For?

Shih Tzus can swim for only ten to fifteen minutes. 

They are not made to withstand long hours in the water because of their short stature, thin webbing on the feet, short muzzle, and heavy fur.

Puppies and older Shih Tzus should only spend 10 minutes in the pool to avoid injuries and tiredness.

An experienced Shih Tzu can spend an additional 5 minutes in the water. This is a good enough workout for them.

Don’t let your Shih Tzu spend over 30 minutes in the pool.

Find out how long dogs should swim depending on their ability.

Can My Shih Tzu Swim in My Pool?

Yes. Shih Tzus can swim in the pool without damaging it.

Dogs rarely ruin pool filtration systems. But you need to clean your filtration system more often especially if your dog is furry. 

You can also purchase a bigger filtration system so you don’t have to keep cleaning. 

Consider a pool vacuum to get rid of the rest of the hair, dirt, and dust in the pool. Make sure to keep the chlorine at safe levels to avoid skin irritation.

Check out how dogs affect your pool and how to maintain it.

Make Your Shih Tzu Love Swimming.

Shih Tzus can swim but they are not great at it. Try to make swimming a fun experience for your Shih Tzu every time you get the opportunity. 

Give them a life jacket to make paddling a breeze. Offer treats and praises too.

Make sure your Shih Tzu only swims for ten to fifteen minutes to avoid over-fatigue. 

Don’t let them swim long distances in strong waters, and always keep your eye on them in the water.

Find out the best types of pool for dogs.