Is Swimming Good for Dogs? Why You Should Swim with Your Dog

Swimming is good for us humans. It provides us with good exercise and refreshing relief on warm days.

But is swimming good for dogs?

Check out the benefits of swimming for dogs. You’ll find out about swimming as a great form of exercise and which dog breeds love to swim.

You’ll also find out if swimming is good for older dogs, dogs with hip dysplasia, and dogs with arthritis and other mobility issues.

We also answer some common questions most dog owners have, such as “Is swimming bad for dogs?” and “Do all dogs know how to swim?”.

Discover how long a dog should swim for exercise and if swimming is better than running for dogs.

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Swimming is good for dogs

Is Swimming Good for Dogs?

Yes. Swimming is good for dogs because it provides essential physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Many dogs know how to swim the first time they dive into the pool, so this activity is perfect to keep them tired and happy.

It gets their whole body moving, therefore strengthening their muscles, breathing, and mental state.

Swimming is also a great form of playtime and bonding with your furry friend. Like humans, dogs get bored and unhappy from the same old walks.

They love exploring new environments. Trying out swimming can bring back their enthusiasm!

However, swimming is not for all dogs. Some dogs never learn how to stay afloat despite continuous training, while others have a fear of the water.

Let your dog try swimming to see if they will enjoy it.

Is Swimming Good Exercise for Dogs?

Yes. Swimming gets your dog’s whole body moving and is a great cardio workout for them.

Exercise must be a part of everyone’s routine to stay healthy and prolong life. 

Here are some other reasons why swimming is a great type of exercise for your pooch.

Low Impact

Swimming has no harsh impact on your dog’s body. It does not stress their joints and bones as much, and the recovery is easy.

This cardiovascular workout also strengthens your dog’s muscles. Notice how canine swimmers usually have lean and toned bodies!

Weight Loss

If your dog is obese, taking them out for a swim is an exciting and weight-loss activity.

Some dog owners find it difficult to get their dogs to shred off some pounds without destroying their joints and bones.

Swimming is the best solution!

Make sure to pair this with a proper diet to bring your pup to a healthier weight.

Mental Stimulation

All forms of exercise provide mental stimulation, but swimming may do a better job because of the unique sensory experience your dog gets.

It will enrich them and prevent them from getting bored. Some dogs get destructive because of boredom. They bark, dig, and escape because they want some stimulation. 

So, if your dog has behavioral issues, maybe they just need a good swim. 

Find out how long a dog should swim for a good workout!

Swimming is good exercise for dogs

Is Swimming Good for Older Dogs?

Yes. Swimming is a great activity for older dogs, as long as you keep the sessions short and not overtaxing.

As mentioned, swimming is a low-impact exercise that gets your dog’s whole body moving. It’s exactly what senior dogs need.

Low-impact exercises are necessary for their weakening muscles and joints. It also prevents the loss of strength and improves their overall conditioning.

Senior dogs deserve relaxation and comfort. Let them go swimming to relieve their pain.

Some vets even recommend swimming as a form of physical therapy for senior dogs, especially those who have just undergone surgery.

Remember that not all breeds will enjoy swimming, especially if they are too old to do so.

Care for your senior dog to avoid signs of aging, such as weight changes, loss of mobility, and poor appetite. 

Is Swimming Good for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia?


Hip dysplasia is an ailment where the femur or thigh bone of your dog interferes with their pelvis. Limping, pain, and unequal leg lengths are some of its symptoms.

Swimming is a great exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia. Just make sure to keep it low-key and short.

Swimming helps build your pup’s butt muscles to support the ball and socket hip joint. 

As a low-impact and high-resistance workout, it also strengthens your dog’s elbow joints.

Remember that too much swimming may result in the opposite because it can also damage their joints. Slipping on the ground can also cause injuries.

To guarantee your pup’s safety let them run on a water treadmill with a professional instead of swimming in pools.

Is Swimming Good for Dogs with Arthritis?


Arthritis is the inflammation of your dog’s joints which can be painful. The cartilage of their joints gets damaged, leading to stiffness and lack of mobility.

Swimming is great for arthritic dogs because it does not involve too much strain and weight as they exercise. 

Dogs with arthritis also have difficulty walking, so swimming is a great substitute. It lets them burn calories without sacrificing the health of their joints.

Learn some other effective ways to treat arthritis in dogs naturally.

Is Swimming Bad for Dogs?

It can be.

While swimming is an amazing form of low-impact cardiovascular workout, it also has disadvantages especially if you allow your dog to swim excessively.

Ideally, your dog should only swim for about half an hour every day.

There are a few situations when letting a dog swim may not be a great idea.

Some Dogs Can’t Swim

Swimming is definitely bad for a dog that can’t swim. Some of our furry friends just don’t have the right build for paddling in water.

Some may have had a bad experience with water in the past which created anxiety or fear over swimming.

It’s okay if your dog can’t swim or doesn’t want to. Don’t force them or throw them into the water as it can only cause further issues. 

When approaching the water with your dog for the first time, be sure to notice any kind of hesitation or signs of fear. 

And always keep your eye on them around water.


We’ve mentioned that swimming is perfect for arthritic dogs. But too much can also damage their joints.

The right amount of time should be considered when taking arthritic dogs out for swimming.

If they are still new to the activity, 10 minutes at a time is enough.

If your dog is struggling with this small amount of time do not force them to swim.

If you want to play safe, try hydrotherapy for dogs instead. It’s a great water exercise that is safer and more beneficial.

Ear Infection

Your dog is more susceptible to ear infections if they swim regularly. Even if the pool is clean, moisture that’s left in their ears can cause the buildup of bacteria. 

Microscopic organisms thrive in the pool. So, make sure to rinse your dog’s whole body and dry them well after swimming.

If your dog has an ear infection, or any kind of infection or wound, they should not be swimming until they are healed.

Learn more about how to treat dog ear infections at home.

Drinking Pool Water

It’s okay for your dog to accidentally drink a bit of pool water.

Safe chlorine levels do not cause harm to your dog if they drink some of it. 

However, if they incessantly try to quench their thirst with the pool water, they shouldn’t be allowed to go near the pool.

Dogs with heart, kidney, and other kinds of disease may suffer more from the ingestion of pool water.

Train your dog with some basic commands before letting them swim for their own safety. If you feel like they are thirsty, make sure fresh water is always available for them.

Do dogs know how to swim

Do All Dogs Know How to Swim?

No. Even though some dogs can innately swim, others do not know how to swim without being taught.

And some will never learn because of the way they are built.

Even though you spend hours training them every day, they cannot stay afloat because of their body shape.

Smaller breeds like the Maltese and Chihuahua are great examples of dogs that need help swimming. 

These tiny fur babies also get tired easily, so training them to swim should be done in small sessions only.

Dog breeds that can naturally swim include Retrievers and Spaniels, props to their strong and long legs for easy paddling.

However, even if your Golden Retriever is bred to swim, their individual ability still varies. Some develop a phobia of deep water growing up, while others simply do not enjoy it.

Senior dogs and dogs with disabilities may also have a hard time swimming. Still, swimming is less strenuous than other activities.

The key is to slowly introduce them to swimming. Do not force them. Otherwise, they may get exhausted and stressed, and they may not enjoy it at all.

Learn how to help a fearful dog if this is what you believe is keeping them from exploring the pool. 

Dog Breeds that Love to Swim

So, which dog breeds are born to tread vast waters and do it well? 

Here’s a list of dogs that love swimming.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever swimming

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most well-known breeds in the USA and a popular pet found in many households. 

This family dog was bred to retrieve waterfowl while withstanding extreme elements. This makes their temperament sporty, athletic, and adventurous.

Introduce them to the water and it will only take a few minutes before they can paddle on their own. They may even play fun pool games with you.

Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel swimming

When it comes to swimming, the Irish Water Spaniel will never go unmentioned. This curly breed is also a retriever like the Lab.

They are curious, outgoing, and unafraid of anything, not even deep bodies of water! This personality complements their physical attributes too.

The Irish Water Spaniel has a water-repellent coat, so you don’t have to worry about moisture being trapped in their fur while they swim.


Newfoundland swimming

The Newfoundland is a gentle giant that was originally bred to be a water rescue dog. Because of this, they love swimming and playing in the water.

And if they notice someone drowning in the pool. Their instinct will tell them to save that person.

Their webbed feet and thick coats make them great swimming partners even in cooler waters.

Standard Poodle

Standard Poodle breed

You can also count on the Standard Poodle for fun water activities including swimming. This sophisticated yet inquisitive dog breed is sturdy and strong enough to paddle confidently.

Whether you live in a big house or a small apartment, the Poodle can adapt. You can leave them alone at home or bring them with you for summer vacations.

The Poodle is fun to be with. They make great entertainers and therapy dogs. If you like sports, they’ll learn the necessary skills just to please you.

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

These energetic and playful pups were initially bred to be fisherman’s helpers, working on trawlers, herding fish, and retrieving nets.

This means the Portuguese Water Dog instinctively loves the water and will take to all kinds of water activities like swimming, dock diving, and boating.

They are highly intelligent and loyal, which makes them easy to train.

If you are looking for a high energy and athletic pal to take to the beach or hiking, this is the breed for you.

How Long Should a Dog Swim for Exercise?

This depends on the breed of your dog, their health, energy levels, and their ability to swim. 

In general, dogs who are new to swimming should start with around ten minutes once a week. This applies to beginners and older dogs with mobility problems.

Dogs that can swim well can spend around 30 minutes in the pool each day for a good workout. This is enough time to move their whole body and give them a great cardio session.

It helps to shred off a few extra pounds and improve their heart health without causing stress to their muscles and joints.

The maximum amount of time an expert dog can swim is about one hour a day. 

If your dog is about to swim in the ocean, make sure that they are prepared and trained for it. 

Once they are ready, they can spend up to 30 minutes in the water. But be sure to keep your eye on them at all times.

Never leave your dog unattended! Just because they can swim doesn’t mean they have no chance of drowning.

There are waves, currents, and possible dangers under the water that you need to be aware of. So, always stay within reach of your dog while they are swimming.

Is Swimming Better than Running for Exercise?

For dogs that love the water and are able to swim for an adequate amount of time, swimming is surely more beneficial. 

Even though it’s as good of a cardio workout as running, swimming gets the whole body working with a reduced risk of hip dysplasia and arthritis.

When your dog paddles their legs underwater, the ball and socket systems in their body do not get damaged. Their bones and joints remain healthy.

As a low-impact exercise, swimming helps overweight or obese dogs lose a few pounds without causing stress and injury to their muscles.

Your furry friend can burn calories and have tone muscles without getting too sore.

It’s also an excellent exercise for dogs that are recovering from surgery. 

While running or walking can damage the reconstructed part of the body, swimming supports and improves their condition. 

Swimming is better than running for dogs with medical conditions, senior dogs, and high energy dogs that love the water. 

It’s also why experts recommend hydrotherapy sessions for dogs who are recovering from injury.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Canine hydrotherapy is therapy for dogs done with the help of water.

This can include saunas, mineral baths, whirlpool baths, or water aerobics. Taking a bath in hot water, for example, can relax the blood vessels and muscles.

It can soothe different types of pain and heal various types of injuries.

Aside from post-surgical recovery, water therapy can also help with the following conditions:

  • ACL injuries
  • neurological issues
  • orthopaedic conditions
  • weight loss
  • Cushing’s disease, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions.

Where Should I Take My Dog Swimming?

Not everyone has easy access to swimming because not everyone has a swimming pool at home. Here are some ideas on where to take your dog swimming.

Kiddie Pool

A kiddie pool is the most inexpensive way to take your dog swimming. You can set it up easily and use it whenever you want. 

It is also highly recommended for puppies, small dogs, and old dogs who can’t swim in deep water. 

A kiddie pool is not just for swimming. You can also use it to bathe them or play other games with them.

If it’s a hot summer day, letting them splash during a game of Frisbee would make the activity more enjoyable. It will also help keep your dog cool!

A tiny pool is also a great option for dogs who are still learning how to swim. Your dog has a reduced chance of drowning in a 3-feet pool. 

Remember to keep supervising them no matter how shallow the water is.

Try this collapsible Jasonwell Dog Pool to get your pup in the water now.

Public Pool

Check for local pools in your area that are pet-friendly. Most of these establishments are for dogs’ use only, and they are open during the summer to keep your dog cool. 

Public and commercial pools are also a great opportunity for your furry friend to meet new doggos and schedule playdates. 

It’s an instant exercise and socialization for them.

Local Public Beach

The local public beach is also a great idea for you and your dog to go swimming. Just remember the safety measures. Give your dog a life jacket and don’t let them swim too far and too long.

You also want to check first if your public beach allows dogs. Some may fine you if you bring your pup with you. 

Avoid big waves and riptides when swimming with your dog, especially if their breed does not make them a good swimmer.

Some popular beaches that allow dogs include:

  • Provincetown Beaches, MA
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Jekyll Island Beaches, Georgia
  • St. Simons Island, Georgia
  • Grand Mere State Park, Stevensville MI
  • Warren Dunes State Park, Sawyer MI
  • Nordhouse Dunes, Manistee National Forest MI
  • Norman F. Kruse Park, Muskegon MI
  • The Original Dog Beach, San Diego CA
  • Fort Funston Doggie Beach, San Francisco CA

Check out BringFido for more dog-friendly beaches in your area.

Lakes and Beachfronts

Your dog may not be pro enough to swim on the beach yet, so take them to the lake or beachfront instead. But remember that safety risks remain, and it doesn’t mean you can supervise them less by the lake.

Never let your dog swim in the deep parts of the lake. You also want to make sure that they have a life vest on, so they stay afloat. 

Avoid swimming in the lake during windy and rainy days. You also want to check for blue algae that can be toxic to dogs.

Dog Parks

Some dog parks have pools and fun water games that your dog will enjoy. 

For instance, in Atlanta, Georgia, Atlanta Dog Works has a 40’ s 20’ pool for pets to swim in.

Ponds and Standing Water

A shallow stream is a great idea for swimming with your dog. Make sure it is clean and unpolluted to avoid algae toxicity. 

Some ponds are also contaminated by livestock and parasites that can kill.