Can Pit Bulls Swim? What You Need to Know

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Many first-time pit bull owners wonder, can pit bulls swim? From the many recent studies done on pit bulls, there is no denying that there are many facts and proven statistics about pit bulls that many people do not know.

However, there is a lot of misconception about a dog’s ability to swim. A lot of information out there seems to claim that some dog breeds such as Labradors are born swimmers while others such as pit bulls that have shorter snouts and large heads are completely unable to swim.

So, is the information true or is it simply based on theory? Can pit bulls swim? Let’s debunk the myths and get down to the real truth on whether pit bulls can swim and are they really as good as labs.

First, let’s take a look at the general consensus.

Many dog owners believe that breeds such as bulldogs, pit bulls, American bulldogs, and boxers with short snouts, are top-heavy and muscular are unable to swim. This is because the large heads and the general anatomy of the body distributes weight more towards the front half of the dog. Because of their design, such breeds are more likely to get their heads underwater.

However, while there is a lot of truth to this, some pit bull owners claim their dogs simply relish being in the water. If they were asked the question-can pit bulls swim, the answer would be a resounding YES! Other pit bull owners say that their pitties dislike the water and that their dogs will not even touch the water with their feet. Whether a pit bull can swim or not will thus depend on the individual dog.

That said, breeds such as bulldogs or dachshunds should never be left without supervision near a body of water. Their body proportions, small legs, and overall anatomy makes it difficult for them to gain control in the water and their odds of drowning are extremely high compared to other dog breeds.

Bulldogs, in particular, have such large heads that most have to be born via caesarian section as the pups cannot pass through the mother’s birth canal.

Labs, on the other hand, seem to naturally take to the water and have no problem gaining control and keeping their nose above water.

What every dog owner needs to understand is that like people, some dogs are more comfortable in the water than others. Dogs introduced to water at a younger age can swim much better than dogs that have never taken to the water all their lives.

It is therefore important to ensure that the dog always wears a life jacket whenever they are near the water.

When choosing a life jacket for your pitbull, there are a few guidelines to follow:


The life jacket should not be too tight that it is uncomfortable for the dog to wear. It should also not be too loose that it could easily slip off.

Choose a lifejacket that is suited for your dog’s body shape with straps that fit nicely around the body.


When choosing a life jacket for your pittie, the type of buoyancy material is of paramount importance. The jacket should have material that is easily buoyant and can take the dog’s weight.

The jacket should also have floatation under the muzzle to keep the dogs head above water.


Color is important in a life jacket. It is much easier to spot a life jacket with bright colors than one with dark colors.

Also, it is a good idea to pick a jacket with reflectors for easier visibility in low light conditions.

Emergency rescue options

Even with a life jacket, it is not a guarantee that the dog will not drown. A life jacket with permanent straps will allow you to quickly pull the dog out of the water in case they fall in.

Now to the real question.

Can pit bulls swim and are they good swimmers? The simple truth is Yes! Pit bulls can swim and can be very good at it!

As long as the dog is introduced to water at a young age and becomes comfortable with it, then you will be surprised at how agile pit bulls are in the water.

Note, however, that if left in the water for too long, any strong swimmer whether dog or human, can tire and drown.

Some pit bulls can dive to the bottom of a swimming pool and retrieve their ball. View here. Take a closer look at the pit bull in the water and notice that their heavier front makes them float and the slenderer back seems to sink more easily.

How to teach your pit bull to swim

One of the best ways of preventing heat exhaustion in pit bulls is by taking them for a swim. However, if you are dealing with a Pitbull that has never been in the water, there is a high chance they will be afraid of it. This is why it is important that you gradually introduce the dog to swimming.

Ensure that the dog is wearing a life jacket and that they are on a leash. This will help you keep a hold on the dog in case they get themselves in trouble.

Never throw your pittie in the water as this could cause them to panic which will only heighten their fear of water.

Start by walking your dog in shallow water to get them comfortable with getting their feet wet. If they are afraid, let them relax and then try again. Once they get in, provide dog treats and good verbal commands to encourage them.

Next, introduce them to deeper water. Provide extra support under the dog’s belly. This causes them to kick their hind feet. If a dog only uses his front feet when swimming, they will tire much quicker. Placing an arm under their belly will encourage them to kick with their hind feet when swimming.

Show the dog the easiest way out of the water. This lets them know what to do whenever they get overwhelmed and need to get out of the water.

When the swimming lessons are over, give your dog positive verbal praises and treats to create positive associations with the water. Your pitbull should start becoming a pro whenever they hit the water.

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