Dogs are your number one adventure buddies! They love heading out for a hike into the woods, and they love to splash around in the water.
But how long can dogs swim for?
This depends a lot on a dog’s breed, fitness levels, and where they are swimming, but dogs can swim for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Find out how long a dog can swim and tread water for, and whether it’s a good workout or leisure activity for them.
Learn how long dogs can safely swim for, particularly if swimming in the ocean.
If you’re also wondering how long a dog can swim before they drown, we’ll answer that for you.
You might be surprised to learn that not all dogs are natural swimmers, and they don’t always know how to swim.
Discover how far a dog can swim and how often you can get your pup into the water.
How Long Can a Dog Swim?
Dogs can swim for up to 30 minutes at a time. Provided they are fit, healthy, and experienced swimmers.
How long an individual dog can swim for will depend on their breed, level of fitness, and the condition of the waters.
Ideally, swimming sessions must be short for beginner swimmers to avoid fatigue and drowning. Keep these initial sessions to under 10 minutes at a time.
Then slowly build up the amount of time they spend in the water.
30 minutes is a good amount of time for a healthy dog to burn calories and stay fit without getting too exhausted.
If your dog enjoys swimming, they can swim for 30 minutes a day every day.
This guideline is specifically made for natural swimmers or dog breeds that are easy to train how to swim.
And even if your pup is a natural swimmer, it doesn’t mean they enjoy the activity or can keep their body afloat for a long time.
Remember that puppies and senior dogs can get tired more easily, so it’s best to keep their swimming sessions shorter.
If your dog does not have the appropriate weight distribution, has short legs, or a stocky body, then they may have a harder time learning how to swim and stay afloat.
Some don’t even learn at all.
How Long Can a Dog Tread Water?
Water treading refers to a vertical position of swimming, where the head of your dog is above the water surface.
Water treading also entails having no sufficient directional thrust. So, it is just staying in the same spot in the water but keeping afloat.
The truth is dogs don’t tread water as humans do.
They get tired easily when they can’t rest their feet on the bottom.
Instead, some of our furry friends have a built-in ability to paddle, which is their natural swimming stroke or style.
That’s why we call it “doggie paddling”.
Dogs can paddle for up to 30 minutes at a time, depending on their breed, level of fitness, and the condition of the water.
Because dogs can’t tread water, they will need a flotation device to stay afloat when they can’t touch the bottom.
How Long Should a Dog Swim in the Ocean?
Dogs can swim in the ocean for the same amount of time they swim in the pool and other bodies of water.
However, oceans pose additional risks to your dog compared to pools and ponds.
Shells and rocks can inflict wounds on their paws.
Oceans are home to garbage produced by humans, and these could be sharp enough to cut your pup.
Some think that saltwater helps treat wounds. This is incorrect. While the wound may easily dry out, the water from the ocean can inflame the wound.
It also contains bacteria that can infect your dog further.
Another danger when it comes to oceans is the rip currents. You need to be aware of the tides and conditions when you take your dog for a swim in the ocean.
Stop your dog from heading into the water if the conditions are too dangerous.
If you do let them into the water, be sure they wear a proper dog life jacket.
Your pup can get tired swimming in the ocean if they are struggling against waves and can’t touch the bottom.
But with a flotation device, they will stay safe and afloat in the ocean without needing to expend too much energy.
But you should always keep your eye on them and keep them within your reach.
Drinking Ocean Water
Drinking ocean water can make your dog very sick. The toxic dose for salt in dogs is around 4 grams per kilogram of body weight.
A gallon of ocean water, on the other hand, has 22 teaspoons of salt. So, a gallon of ocean water for a 10-pound dog can be toxic.
Give them access to plenty of fresh water before swimming so they don’t intentionally drink from the sea.
After a short swimming session, give your dog a few minutes break to drink fresh water to avoid potential issues.
Ocean Water and Fleas
Some think that ocean water can kill dog fleas since salt can dry out and kill fleas. But there is not enough evidence to support this.
For dogs with thick coats, the fleas can safely hide in there to avoid reaching the ocean water.
Even if you bathe your dog with ocean water, the fleas at home will easily reproduce. Therefore, this won’t solve the root cause of flea infestation.
Ocean Water and Your Dog’s Skin
Saltwater is different from pool water. But both can lead to dry and flaky skin, as well as brittle fur.
The impact of saltwater depends on their natural coat and skin.
Labrador Retrievers have a water-repellent double coat that protects their skin from being stripped off. This is because the water is less likely to reach their skin.
However, some dogs will experience losing patches of fur because of saltwater.
Wash Your Dog After Swimming in the Ocean
To keep your dog’s fur shiny even after swimming in the ocean, it’s important to bathe them with fresh water afterward.
Don’t just target the fur. Rinsing their skin is key! You can use tools to help the fresh water penetrate down through their thick coats, such as ZOOPOLR Pet Silicone Shampoo Brush.
Saltwater does not always cause dry skin, but you should never skip this essential routine for the health of your pup.
How Long Is It Safe for Dogs to Swim?
Safety not only entails a dog’s physical ability to swim for a length of time in the water.
The weather, the conditions and depth of the water, and the water temperature will also come into play.
In general, puppies have to be supervised more keenly when swimming.
As with playtime and exercise, it’s best to keep swimming sessions shorter but more frequent. This is because their bones may not yet be fully developed, and they get tired quickly.
Keep your Puppy’s swimming sessions to 5 or 10 minutes at most, and always be in the water with them to support them.
Senior Dogs and Dogs with Mobility Issues
Senior dogs and those with mobility issues may not be able to swim safely at all.
Even if they have been swimming their whole lives, they move slower and get tired quicker.
Dogs that are more susceptible to hip dysplasia should also have a limited time swimming to avoid health issues in the future.
Swimming can be a gentle form of exercise for older dogs and those with mobility problems. But your dog should be always monitored for signs of fatigue.
Hydrotherapy is often recommended as a treatment for dogs who have trouble swimming on their own anymore.
Dogs Afraid of Water
If your pup has a fear of water, then they have a higher chance of panicking and being unsafe while swimming.
Keep an eye out on your dog when approaching water for the first few times and look for signs of fear.
These can include flattened ears, tucked tail, cowering, or shaking when around water.
While it is not common, dogs can be scared of swimming. And you should never force your dog into the water if they don’t want to swim.
Dogs with a Chlorine Allergy
Swimming safety also depends on the type and condition of the water your dog is swimming in.
Dogs can be allergic to pool water, leading to symptoms like red eyes and coughing.
If your dog shows signs of an allergy to pool water, swimming sessions must be shortened or completely avoided.
You should also discourage your dog from drinking pool water to avoid irritation and vomiting.
Always test your pool water to ensure your Chlorine levels are correct. Levels that are too high or too low can be dangerous to you and your dog.
Dog Breed and Ability
Most importantly, your dog’s breed and swimming skills will determine how long it is safe for them to swim.
For example, dog breeds with double coats can spend a long time in cold water than those with short hair. Find out how cold is too cold for dogs.
As mentioned, beginner pups should only swim for up to 10 minutes. The maximum length of time for the expert swimmers is around 30 minutes.
This already serves as a good workout for them!
How Long Can a Dog Swim Before Drowning?
Dogs can safely swim for up to 30 minutes depending on their breed, age, health, and familiarity with the water.
When talking about dog drowning, it’s always important to understand that dogs often can’t touch the ground when swimming.
If they cannot reach the bottom they have to paddle to stay afloat. Some dogs can’t even stay afloat despite paddling because of their weight.
The deeper they swim, the more effort they have to exert, and the more tired they become. Once they can’t paddle anymore, they are at risk of drowning.
There is no exact length of time to determine how long dogs can safely swim before they drown. Their size, weight, and stamina will influence this.
It is crucial to always keep an eye on your dog when swimming and be ready to pick them out of the water when they are at risk.
How Long Should Dog Swim for a Good Workout?
Dogs can usually only swim for 10 minutes or less the first time they encounter water.
While humans practice progressive overload when working out, which means increasing difficulty through increased reps or sets, dogs can also do the same to build their stamina.
As your dog gets used to the water, they can slowly build up to swimming for 30 minutes at a time to keep fit and become a confident swimmer.
How Far Can a Dog Swim?
The distance that a dog can swim depends again on their size, stamina, training, and whether or not they have flotation devices.
A professional dog swimmer can swim up to 4km without a break!
If you have a small-breed dog such as a Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier, then they won’t be able to swim too far because of their tiny legs.
The tinier the legs, the smaller the paddles, the shorter the distance they can swim.
Even though the Chihuahua doesn’t get tired as easily as the Bullmastiff, they might not be able to even swim across the other side of the pool.
If your dog is prone to joint problems, muscle issues, and is simply not trained for regular swimming, then don’t expect them to be able to swim far without a break.
This is also applicable for senior dogs who only need low-impact exercises and more rest time every day.
If your dog seems to get tired and listless easily, check for signs of infection, parvovirus, distemper, or other diseases.
Some dogs also have a hard time staying afloat, and this affects their ability to swim at a long distance.
If your dog wears a life vest, then they will exert less effort to stay afloat and will be able to focus on swimming farther.
A flotation device can keep them swimming a straight line too.
How Many Miles Can a Dog Swim?
Pro swimmers or professional canicross athletes can swim for 4km straight, which is equivalent to around 2.5 miles.
Gypsy and Kai were black Labrador mixes who became famous for their swimming talent in Hawaii.
Both dogs took 6 hours and 23 minutes to cover 9 miles in 1995 and 1996.
Both dogs received a Guinness World Record for the longest swim done by dogs in the world.
One of the fastest swimmers in the world is Caeleb Dressel. Who would have known that his furry friend is also being trained to swim long distances?
His dog, Jane, is also a Labrador Retriever. She’s a good floater who’s still practicing with her velocity.
If you want to train your pup to swim farther like Gypsy, Kai, and Jane, keep in mind their health first.
Puppies generally have more energy than adult and senior dogs. But this only often comes in short bursts, so the distance they should cover should be reduced.
You also want to reduce the distance that your dog can swim if they are sick, experiencing mobility issues, or unable to stay afloat for a long time.
How Often Can a Dog Swim?
As mentioned, progressive overload is key to keeping your dog familiar with the water.
Start by letting them swim once a week and build this up until they can swim three to four times a week.
Again, this guideline is for healthy dogs who can naturally swim or are trained to swim.
Once your dog enjoys swimming and becomes an expert at it, they can swim every day.
But this may depend on their diet, health, and mood.
Do not force your pup to swim if they do not want to or if they are not feeling well. They might end up getting cramps or even drowning if their body is not in the right condition.
If your dog’s physical characteristics hinder them from learning how to swim, then they should only swim one to three times a week and always with their flotation device.
Avoid swimming activities with dogs that are prone to hip dysplasia, which includes these breeds:
- Great Dane
- Saint Bernard
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
Can My Dog Swim Every Day?
Healthy and fit dogs can swim every day if they are conditioned for it.
If your dog is already a pro, then they can swim every day.
However, if your dog has only started with this new exercise then it’s best to let them explore the waters only once a week.
The same goes for sick dogs and senior dogs. Reduce their swim time and keep an eye on them.
For dogs that are scared of water, we recommend letting them swim every other day to help desensitize them.
Gradually increase the frequency until they can enjoy swimming every day.
Make sure to check your dog’s health and the weather before allowing them to dive in.
If your dog is allergic to pool water, letting them swim every day is not a good idea.
You must also consider that even non-allergic dogs can have dry fur and skin due to chlorine.
They may experience itchy skin and dull coats because the chemicals in the pool strip off their natural moisture.
To avoid dry skin and fur without depriving them of swimming every day, spray them with coat conditioner right before they go swimming.
After swimming, make sure to rinse their coat with cool water to remove the chlorine and other chemicals.
Dogs that swim every day are also prone to an ear infection. If your dog catches an infection, reduce the frequency of their swimming sessions, and get them checked out.
Pools are home to bacteria no matter how thoroughly you clean them. Let your dog heal from the infection before allowing them to swim again.
How Often Should a Dog Swim?
Swimming is a form of exercise, therapy, or leisure for many dogs.
You do not have to take them swimming every day, especially if there are more convenient ways to exercise and mentally stimulate them.
But if your dog swims for training or therapy, then the activity should be done regularly to produce the best benefits.
For instance, if your pup does hydrotherapy, this may be prescribed twice a week for 8 weeks for improvements to occur.
This may be reduced to once a week as their condition improves.
If you let your dog swim for leisure and exercise, then keep it minimal for senior dogs. Once a week is enough to protect their joints and bones.
Low-impact exercises are better for them.
For puppies who are learning how to swim, you may start training them three to four times a week for 10 minutes at a time to keep it consistent without compromising their health.
Once they grow into adult dogs who know how to swim swiftly, they can swim every day for thirty minutes.
Are Dogs Natural Swimmers?
Many say that dogs are natural swimmers. However, not every breed is a natural-born swimmer.
For instance, the Labrador Retriever and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever were originally bred to help fishers and hunters to catch and retrieve fish and water birds.
The Irish Water Spaniel was bred for hunting and used for retrieving ducks and geese from the water. With their water-repellent coat and webbed feet, they just love the water.
Another breed that is bred to swim is the Portuguese Water Dog which also served as a fisher’s helper.
But it’s not just these breeds that are expert swimmers. Some dogs learn how to swim the moment they encounter a pool.
Some dogs need assistance during the first few swims using a life vest, while others simply never learn at all.
For instance, Bulldogs have a weight distribution that will make them sink right away when they are swimming.
The same is true with short-legged breeds like Dachshunds.
Not all dog breeds are natural swimmers.
Do Dogs Always Know How to Swim?
No. Some dogs know how to swim the moment they meet the pool or the ocean. Others have to be trained how to swim.
However, some dog breeds never learn to swim despite wanting to. Dogs who develop a fear of the water may also have a hard time learning how to swim.
Once a dog learns how to swim, they will automatically practice what they learn every time they encounter water.
Here are some tips on how to help your dog learn how to swim.
Choose Shallow Water
For dogs to easily learn how to swim, tempt them into shallow water using a dog toy or treat. Make sure to reward them every time they obey your command.
Keep letting them approach the shallow water until they get relaxed and comfortable with it.
If you’ve tried luring them multiple times and they still don’t follow, gently place them in the shallowest part of the water.
But keep an eye out for signs of fear, and don’t force them if they are afraid.
Move deeper by holding them underneath or by the handle of their life vest.
Allow a few minutes to let them get used to the sensation. At this point, they should start paddling all four of their legs.
Once your dog is swimming, reward them with praises and treats.
You also want to teach them how to leave the pool. Guide them as they approach the stairs or the ramp and show them the way out.
If Your Dog Does Not Like to Swim
If your dog does not enjoy swimming at all despite trying to train them, it’s okay.
This is more common among dogs who are naturally weak in this activity due to their legs and weight.
You should not force them into the pool or any body of water.
You also want to be aware of the risks, especially for dogs who can’t swim and those with an aversion to water.
There are many other ways to keep them cool in the summer anyway! You can let them play in a kiddie pool, give them a fun shower, and ice cubes to lick.
Swimming is a Dog’s Happy Hour!
Swimming is a fun activity for your dog to try during the summer.
The length of time a dog can swim depends on their age, ability to swim, health, breed, and the condition of the water.
Make sure they stay afloat by using a flotation vest and teaching them how to paddle. You also want to make sure they don’t drink the salt water or pool water.
Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog. Find out other ways to exercise your dog if you have no access to a pool or the ocean.