can poodles swim

Poodles Like Water, But Can Poodles Swim?

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Are you searching for a new puppy member for your happy and energetic family but don’t know where to begin? Wondering if a poodle puppy will fit into your lake family vacations, including jumping off docks and splashing around with the kids? This post is all about poodles liking water, and exploring if poodles can swim.

Or maybe you’d like a new swimming partner for your quiet getaways to the beach?

Well, look no further. We have the purr-rect answer for you: a poodle – one of the finest additions to any happy household that thrives on creating moments that last a lifetime. 

The fact that poodles are smart and can be easily trained will definitely be an upside for you that can result in a bunch of fun and treasurable memories! 

But are poodles going to be as friendly in the water splashing around as they are on your family picnic, when their favorite foods are out? 

The short answer is, yes poodles can swim and they do love water! In fact, they are instinctively drawn to water that dates back to being bread hunting dogs that chased water friendly birds. There are also many other physical characteristics poodles have that support their desire to swim and be in the water.

Let’s dive into the specifics.     

If you’d like more information on what type of pets poodles make in general, check out our other articles Do Poodles Make Good Pets (Toy, Miniature And Standard)?

Are Poodles Afraid of Water?

To decipher this, we’ll have to take a look into a little bit of history and facts about poodles. 

So, here’s a fun fact for you: Poodles, in general, are called water dogs. The word poodle itself is derived from the German word Pudeln – which literally translates to splash.

Bet you didn’t know that!  

No poodles are not afraid of water. In fact, back in the old ages, people used to breed for poodle puppies so that they could be trained and eventually used for duck hunting. Their cutesy, pom-pom like tails would allow the poodles to be easily spotted by a hunter no matter where they’d be. 

Natural Born Swimmers

You’d be surprised but there are multiple other traits that make poodles more suitable for duck hunting, such as their webbed feet that act as paddles and their single layer of fur coating which makes it easier for them to swim as compared to other animals who have heavier fur coats.    

Now based on all the above-mentioned fun facts, you’d expect poodles to be natural swimmers. 

However, as much as we hate to share this caveat, this is not always the case! 

Often, each poodle may react differently when exposed to water bodies. Some may instantly like it whereas, others may not. The reason for that is if a poodle is encountering a water body for the very first time it is likely that they might be scared. But given their history, if you coax your poodle in the right manner, you can make a swimmer out of them in no time! 

How Do You Teach a Poodle to Swim?

You must be wondering, if each poodle reacts differently to water, how should you acclimate your precious into a swimming pool? Allow us to give you a walkthrough. 

1.     Take your poodle out on a walk near a natural water body. This allows the Poodle to acclimatize and familiarize itself with the sound and touch by letting it dip its paws in the water. That’s it. Do not push it anymore than that as a beginner. 

2.     Next time around, pick a natural water body consisting of shallow water instead of a swimming pool. After all, you don’t want your little one to dive into a deep pool when you aren’t even sure if it can swim!

3.     Get into the water yourself and call out to your poodle. Try encouraging them through treats and let them come to you. 

4.     Focus on positive reinforcement learning. Reward them as much as you can on doing something correctly.

5.     Once your poodle is comfortable wading towards you, play fetch with him in the water. 

6.     If they’re able to do well on their own, you can come out of the water and throw their treats from land. 

One of the most important things is that you must not rush. Trust the process. Practice the above-mentioned steps with your poodle a few times till they’re completely immersed in having fun. 

Being patient and calm is also vital. The more patient you are, the more likely they’re to pick up on how to swim. So, it’s a win-win for the both of you! 

Here’s a bonus tip for you: If your poodle is social and likes being around other dogs, invite your friends along with their doggos for a good time. This way, you will have a lot of fun and teach your poodle how to swim as well!

The good news is, poodles are super smart and eager to learn new things. They want to show you their potential and swimming is most likely one skill they will be happy to strut. Another thing about poodles is they have paws that are connected by membranes. Much like geese, ducks and pelicans, poodles also have webbed feet! Makes sense they evolved this way since they were once duck hunting dogs.

Toys For Poodles Going Swimming

There are some great toys on the market that will help you motivate your poodle to get started out early. Here is a list of toys on Amazon that are available via Prime and have rave reviews.

  1. West Paw Floating Bone
  2. West Paw Tug Toy
  3. Goughnuts Ring
  4. Funyole Dog Pool
  5. Front Pet Swimming Pool for Dogs
  6. Prime Pets Frisbee

What Breed of Dog Can’t Swim or Doesn’t Like Water?

Unlike poodles, most dogs aren’t accustomed to water or much less swimming. 

Therefore, while they can turn out to be excellent house pets, they might not be your favorite swimming partner. 

So, let’s have a look at a few pups that just can’t get along with water. 

First, we have the adorable pug. This little guy finds it hard to keep his short snout above the water. This results in shortness of breath. This makes it nearly impossible for them to swim. Poor pups!

Next, we have bulldogs. These scary-looking fur babies can’t swim because of their short legs and big heads which make it difficult for them to maintain a balance and paddle simultaneously. But these guys do surprisingly well in a life jacket and look ridiculously cute bobbing in the water!

Like bulldogs, basset houndsalso have a huge body and short legs. Their big ears give the appearance of adorable droopy dogs, yet, they aren’t sturdy enough to act as floaters. Thus, taking them far from the world of swimming. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? 

Maltese are from a line of breeds related to poodles however, unlike poodles, they can’t swim because they’re prone to getting chills or diseases like rheumatism or arthritis. Given their level of sensitivity, it is best to avoid water bodies with them. 

Shih Tzu,very much like the Maltese, are also likely to get sick despite trying their absolute best to stay afloat but their mane weighs them down. The fact that they’re tiny in size doesn’t help either as small dogs are more likely to get frightened while trying to swim. 


This was a run-down on all things you should know about poodle pups. Specifically, how to make excellent swimmers out of ‘em to give you company. 

You should you have an easy time at teaching your poodle to swim. You might find he will beg you to go to the pool after he gets the hang of it. His body is made for the sport! This the chance to show off his skills. This will be one opportunity he does not want to pass up.

Remember our tid-bits and have fun swimming with your poodle!

If you enjoyed this poodle post, you might also like:

How To Throw Your Poodle A Posh Birthday Party

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Lisa Illman


Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity and regularly writes for this blog as well as other pet friendly blogs. Lisa has owned pets her entire life and her family dog growing up was a poodle. Based on her knowledge doing research for dog articles and her own personal experience with poodles, Lisa makes an excellent candidate for writing this content.

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