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Can Bulldogs Swim? How to Have Fun with Your Bulldog in the Water

Can Bulldogs Swim? How to Have Fun with Your Bulldog in the Water


Being able to play with your dog outside can be a ton of fun, and it can be easy to forget that some dogs can’t do everything. Taking a moment to stop and think if it’s ok for your dog to do something might save its life. One crucial question to ask if you have a bulldog is, “Can bulldogs swim?”

Can Bulldogs Swim?

Unfortunately, the short answer to “Can bulldogs swim?” is no.

Bulldogs are one of the very few dog breeds that have various limitations due to their body structure and build. While they can do a lot of outdoor activities and you should encourage them to play outside, swimming is one activity that can prove deadly for our flat-faced friend.

However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t allowed near or even in the water. Assisted swimming can prove beneficial for the bulldog, as it is an excellent form of exercise. Some bulldogs might also really love the water.

There are also a rare few bulldogs that can, in fact, swim. Surely you’ve seen the swimming bulldog videos (like the one below), so it’s not impossible.

But swimming without the assistance of a life jacket or their owner requires a lot of training and practice, and is still not recommended for the average bulldog. If you are a bulldog parent, it is imperative to keep an eye on your pup if you take them out to the water.

Why Can’t They Swim?

The root of the bulldog’s inability to swim comes from many developmental restrictions that are native to the breed. The formation of their big heads, bulky bodies, and shorter legs all account for their swimming disability. However, the core of the “Can bulldogs swim?” issue is their adorable smooshed faces.

This look that many find irresistible is called Brachycephaly. That is when a dog has a short, broad skull with a short snout, which also means a much shorter nasal passage as compared to other dogs.

Bulldog smiling

Image by Pixabay via Pexels

Because of the shape and length of their snout, bulldogs are forced to tilt their faces higher than the average dog, to keep their mouths and noses out of the water. This upwards tilt also means that there is a lot more strain put on the neck and body as their energy is spent trying to keep their head above water.

Swimming is already tricky without that issue because of their heavy bodies and rather short legs. Those characteristics alone make staying afloat next to improbable. If you’re not careful, your bulldog can easily drown within a matter of seconds of falling in the water.

That being said, it is not necessarily impossible for a bulldog to swim, just highly unlikely. But don’t get upset! There are many things you can do to help your furry friend enjoy the water with you.

Teach an old dog new tricks

While bulldogs have been historically known not to be swimmers, they still very much enjoy being in the water. And teaching them how to swim is not impossible, just very difficult. But you have to be constantly aware of them like you would a small child.

Bulldog puppy on grass

Image by Jens Mahnke via Pexels

To start, buy a doggy life jacket. It’s vital to your bulldog learning how to swim, as they will most likely not be able to stay afloat without one. Try also to start the swim training early on in their lives, as they will be more active and willing to learn.

We’re not saying that an older dog won’t want to learn, but it will be far more challenging to get them out of their comfort zone later in life. It may also be a good idea to train alongside a more experienced friend. Dogs are far more excited about doing new things when around friends.

Lastly, get in the water with your puppers! These guys look up to you more than anyone else on the planet. If they see you getting in the water, odds are they are going to follow you to the best of their ability.

You can also help them to learn to swim by assisting them in the water. An easy way of doing this is tickling their hind paws. Often dogs will rely on their front legs to do all the work. By touching their hind paws, they will kick and discover a more natural way to swim.

But always remember to go slow. Take your time with your bulldog, encourage it, be a constant support, and be patient.

Life jackets are a bulldog’s best friend

Brown bulldog

Image by Megan Markham via Pexels

Remember that thing about life jackets being vital to knowing if bulldogs can swim? Yeah, that wasn’t a joke. Bulldogs need some assistance when it comes to floating in even the shallowest of waters.

There are a lot of life vests out there that you can choose from, but there are a few that are engineered for bulldogs in mind. These dogs need specific requirements to ensure that their heads always remain above water. And because of their size, you also need to be sure that the life vest fits them comfortably.

One great choice is the Outward Hound Grandby life vest by Kyjen. One of the most reliable doggy vests on the market. And with 4.4 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon, this vest comes with a lot of great features to keep your doggo safe.

The best features are safe release buckets and straps that can quickly free your dog in case of an emergency. Another good choice is the Ezy Doggy Flotation Device Life Jacket from EzyDog. With 4.6 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon, this one is a crowd-pleaser.

It has a 50 percent higher flotation ability than the usual vest, thanks to the heavy-duty construction. It also comes with a sturdy handle that’s made with heavier dogs in mind, like your chubby little bulldog.

Regardless of the life vest you choose, you should only allow your bulldog to swim for short intervals and under strict supervision.

Bulldog Care

Undoubtedly, “Can bulldogs swim?” isn’t the only question on your mind when it comes to your fur baby. There are a lot of things to consider when caring for a bulldog. Unfortunately, they are a breed that often requires some additional care.

All dogs need to get out and exercise, but this is particularly true when it comes to the bulldog. Even though they may not be able to run around and be as vigorously active as other dogs, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need that exercise or want it.

Two bulldogs on road

Image by via Pexels

Without being properly active, your bully can develop joint and weight problems — two issues to which they are already prone. That being said, it’s also essential to know when your pup is getting overworked. These breeds can suffer from extreme heat exhaustion reasonably quickly if you aren’t careful.

Even though these dogs may have a few more restrictions than others, it doesn’t mean that you should shelter them too much. It just means you have to be aware of their limitations and work around them.

What you shouldn’t do with your bulldog

Caring for your furry friend isn’t just knowing can bulldogs swim. These guys have other limitations you as an owner should know about. That way, you can give them a safe, enjoyable life as part of your family. Their noses are the answer to more questions than “Can bulldogs swim?”

Their short snout and smaller nostrils can make it harder to breathe, especially when it comes to extremely hot (or cold) weather. Temperatures just up to 85 degrees can be too much for them at long intervals. That’s why answering important questions like “Can bulldogs swim?” is so important, as it can be an excellent way to cool them down on hot days.

Your supervision should also extend to their dinner time. It’s important to try to keep your puppers from gulping down their food, as it can lead to choking. The same goes for rawhide products, balls, or other small objects. Furthermore, if your baby does develop any issue, make sure that your veterinarian has experience with bulldogs.

These dogs can be harder to treat due to their structure and require very special needs. Not every vet knows how and what a bulldog needs or how to handle them properly.

Other breeds that have trouble in the water

The bulldog isn’t the only dog that has issues when it comes to getting in the water. Many other dogs need just as much assistance if not more to swim. Don’t feel like your buddy is alone on dry land.

For similar reasons to the bulldog, pugs also have issues when it comes to swimming. The brachycephalic features of the pug make it difficult for them to stay afloat. However, they can swim but will need the same amount of assistance as the bulldog.

Wiener dogs and basset hounds both have issues swimming for body structure reasons, as well. Their long bodies and short legs make paddling a cumbersome task. But basset hounds have the added problem of having huge ears, which often get in the way when in the water.

The cute and cuddly Maltese doesn’t agree with water either. This is because the Maltese is a dog that is prone to chills, arthritis, and rheumatism that can come on more quickly by swimming. These guys are far more happy to sit on your lap, than jump around in a pool.

Have Fun with Your Bulldog

For you to properly have fun with your bulldog, it’s not a question of “Can bulldogs swim?” but how they can. It is important to remember that they are a dog that loves to have fun but also has limitations because of how they’re built. It isn’t their fault or yours, just something you have to be aware of.

Lazy brown bulldog on porch

Image by Pixabay via Pexels

They are still a dog that loves to run and play with you, if only for a bit, then lay around and chill for the rest of the day. So stay within your bully’s limits, and you’ll both be fine.

Do you have a bulldog that you take swimming often? Maybe you’re thinking about getting one of these remarkable dogs. We want to know what you do to keep your bulldog active on hot days! Let us know in the comments below.

Featured Image via Pexels

Featured image by Tadeu Gabriel Arcieri via Pexels.



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