Can Pitbulls Swim, And Are They Good Swimmers? An Expert Look At The Facts

Are you a pit bull owner wondering if your pup can take a dip in the pool? Or maybe you’re just curious if Pitbulls can swim and if they are good swimmers. Either way, you’re interested in finding out if pit bulls are capable of swimming and, perhaps more importantly, how good they are at it. Let’s dive right into this topic! We’ll get an expert opinion on the facts surrounding whether or not pit bulls can swim, as well as some tips for making sure your four-legged friend stays safe whilst taking their splashy adventures. Keep reading to learn all about Fido’s potential pool skills!

So can Pitbulls swim? Many Pitbulls are surprisingly skilled swimmers, but not all of them take to the water naturally. Owners should watch for signs that their pup isn’t comfortable in the pool or ocean – just as each person is different when it comes to swimming ability, so too will a Pitbull’s enjoyment vary from one individual dog to another.

As a veterinarian with my own rescued Bully Dog, I am very aware of the dangers that water can pose to some dogs. I feel it is vital for every Pitbull owner to understand the facts about Pitbulls and water.

Do Pitbulls Like Water?

Pitbulls, like all other dogs, are individuals, and some love spending time in the water. They are attracted to garden sprinklers, puddles, swimming pools, and dams or lakes they encounter while walking.

While most Pitbulls may not mind a casual stroll through some puddles, they generally prefer to stay on dry ground.

Some Pitbulls have a special aversion to the rain, almost as if they can sense that it’s coming! They’ll cower indoors and will go so far as to find alternative ways of performing their bodily functions without having to deal with getting wet. Yes, these dogs seem remarkably adverse when precipitation is involved – just don’t expect them on your next hike in the woods!

My own dog adores swimming but loathes the rain.

Some Pitbulls enjoy the water when they are young, but their enthusiasm reduces as they get older. Generally, though, Pitbulls have a positive approach to life’s experiences, including water.

do pitbulls like water

So Why Do Pitbulls Like The Water?

 Pitbulls are high-energy working dogs who really love to play, so it’s no surprise that they enjoy playing in the water! A garden sprinkler can be like a special toy just for them since its droplets of water offer an exciting challenge. With their natural energy and enthusiasm, these furry friends have some fun splashing around.

Pitbulls are intelligent, working dogs with a history of handling difficult terrain – including swamps and marshes. In hot climates they have the smarts to seek out water as an immediate solution for cooling down their short fur coats quickly in scorching temperatures.

Even those living in more moderate regions can benefit from diving into tranquil pools or ponds after intense exercise sessions to keep them from overheating

Pitbulls were also commonly used for hunting wild hogs in southern US states. When the hogs sought refuge by diving into nearby waters, these brave canines fearlessly pursued them, tracking their every move.

Do Pitbulls Know How To Swim?

Most dogs (and mammals for that matter) instinctively do some kind of doggy paddle when they are put in the water. Despite their muscular build, Pitbulls can be surprisingly good swimmers! While they might not have Olympian-level strokes like some other more traditional “water dogs” these loyal friends will usually find a way to keep afloat in aquatic adventures.

Tossing a Pitbull puppy or adult into the water is never recommended due to its potentially dangerous consequences. Instead, it’s best to take a more cautious approach and gradually introduce your dog to swimming in order for you both to understand how strong of a swimmer they are.

If a pup unexpectedly finds itself in deep water, it can put its life on the line by panicking and inadvertently swallowing or inhaling large amounts of water – just like we humans can.

pitbull shaking

Do Pitbulls Have A Hard Time Swimming? Can Pitbulls Swim?

A dog’s ability to swim is influenced by several factors, including their body structure and muscle mass. Pitbulls face difficulties in swimming due to their heavy, muscular build and short snout.

Their wide heads can also make it challenging to keep their noses above water, leading to limited buoyancy. In contrast, dog breeds known for their swimming abilities, such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs, have lighter bodies and longer snouts that allow them to swim more efficiently.

7 Reasons Why Pitbulls May Not Be The Best Swimmers

  1. Buoyancy: Dogs bred for swimming, like Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, have a thick layer of fat under their skin. One function of this fat layer is that it makes the dogs more buoyant in the water.
  2. A second function of the fat layer in swimming dogs is preventing them from getting cold. Pitbulls do not have this protection and may get chilled very quickly, reducing their ability to swim efficiently.
  3.  Pitbulls are usually muscled athletic dogs that have minimal fat. Muscle is very dense, making it difficult for Pitbulls to stay afloat.
  4. Pitbulls have barrel-shaped chests and big heads, with their weight distribution skewed towards the front half of their bodies. This characteristic makes their front ends sink and their hindquarters float. It is difficult and tiring for Pitbulls to keep their heads above water.
  5. Pitbulls have short legs in relation to their body size. Shorter legs are less efficient at propelling the dog through the water. Pitbulls’ feet are made for running on land and do not have the adaptations seen in dogs bred for the water.
  6. Pitbulls’ shortened faces affect their breathing and may make it easier for them to inhale water while swimming.
  7. Often Pitbulls’ ears are cropped, which can lead to water splashing into the ears. Most dogs find this distressing, and it can lead to ear infections. 
pitbull splashing

How To Help Your Pitbull Enjoy The Water

  •  The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends that if a Pitbull spends a lot of time around water or on boats, it should wear a flotation device. This will prevent the dog from panicking and drowning if it should fall into the water.
  •  The AKC notes that a floatation device can help a dog learn to swim. Some dogs only swim with their front feet while their hindquarters trail along uselessly. A flotation device helps the dog to have its whole body floating in the water, and they begin to use both its front and hind feet to paddle.
  • Choose a flotation device that fits your Pitbull well and has a handle on the back that you can use to pull them out of the water if necessary.  
  • A slow approach will allow the Pitbull to learn about the water without a traumatic experience. You can encourage your Pitbull to sit in the shallow water and feed some treats to make a positive association.
  • Remember that swimming can be very tiring for Pitbulls as their muscles are not naturally adapted to a swimming action. Keep sessions short, starting with only four to five minutes at a time.
  • You can slowly increase the time so that your Pitbull builds the muscles necessary for swimming. Most Pitbulls will only swim continuously for a maximum of approximately ten minutes.  
pitbull with head in water

Ways to Safely Enjoy Water Activities with Your Pitbull:

Despite the challenges faced by Pitbulls in swimming, you can still enjoy water activities with your canine companion by ensuring proper supervision, using life jackets designed for dogs, and gradually introducing them to water to build their confidence.

Alternatives to swimming, such as playing along the shoreline, exploring dog-friendly splash pads or pools, or engaging in water-related toys or games, can be great options for your Pitbull to enjoy the water safely.

Water Safety Tips To Implement With Your Pitbull Terrier

 Water safety is essential whenever your Pitbull is exposed to deep water. It is important if you have a swimming pool that you teach your dog what to do if it falls in the water unexpectedly. This process is much like drown-proofing babies.

Many dogs, including Pitbulls, drown in swimming pools because they do not know where to exit the pool. It is imperative to put your Pitbull into the pool from different sides and help him swim to the steps so that he knows where to get out.

pitbull jumping into water


Do Pitbulls Have Webbed Feet?

Pitbulls do not have webbed feet. Their feet are made for running on land and are not webbed like a Labrador retriever or other water dogs.

Do Pitbulls Have Waterproof Fur?

Pitbulls have short single-layer coats which are not waterproof. Their coats are generally thin, providing even less protection. Pitbulls can get cold quickly when swimming.

Do Pitbulls Like The Beach?

Pitbulls usually enjoy the beach as there is a lot to do and many games to play. Keep a careful watch on your dog so that he is not caught unawares by waves that might knock him off his feet or scare him.

Rinse your Pitbull with clean water after swimming at the beach to prevent skin irritations. 

Do Pitbulls Like Baths?

Many Pitbulls do not like baths, but this is usually because they did not enjoy their first bathing experiences. Use treats and warm water to associate bathing with positive experiences. This approach will help your Pitbull enjoy a bath more and make the job easier for you.

Why Is My Pitbull Scared Of The Water?

Pitbulls that are scared of water have usually had a negative experience with water. The trauma may have occurred when the Pitbull was a puppy before you purchased him.

Anxious dogs may fear new experiences and environments, predisposing them to fear of water. Slow careful training may help the dog overcome the fear but some dogs are never entirely comfortable in the water.

Water movement can be confusing to some Pitbulls, who do not enjoy the sensation and may even be seasick if they are on a boat.

My Final Thoughts

So can Pitbulls swim? YEs they can. Pitbulls may love or hate the water. They can swim but are not usually proficient swimmers due to their conformation. Water safety is essential when your Pitbull is around large water bodies.

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Emily Andrews