Can Pugs Swim

Can Pugs Swim? Keep your Pug Safe in the Swimming Pool

Can Pugs Swim? Keep your Pug Safe in the Swimming Pool

It’s not hard to imagine a smiley Pug face enjoying their time in the pool splashing around. Going swimming with your Pug is a lot of fun. However, just like human children, we would never put our Pugs in the water alone.

Pugs are not born to swim, and they will head to the shore or side of the pool instinctively.

Can Pugs Swim?

Your Pug may love being around the water, but due to the structure of the “smushed” faces, Pugs can hardly swim.

This physical characteristic exists in Brachycephalic dogs, including Pugs, Frenchies, and bulldogs. The condition emphasizes the dogs are having a broad skull and short nasal passage.

With such short snouts, Pugs experience quite a bit of difficulty when breathing. The swimming position is unnatural for Pugs. It’s challenging for the Pug dog breed to get air. Hence, that makes swimming a rare activity for Pugs.

If you tried to make a Pug swim, you could see that your Pug tends to tilt the head upward to gain more air. But this awkward position is not ideal for staying afloat.

So, you can expect your Pugs to swim, but not for long.

But if you want your Pug to enjoy himself, you should stay close to the Pug. Watch out for exhaustion and poor breathing. Always use a dog life vest to keep the Pug safe around water.

Teach your Pug to Swim

Swimming Pug

One answer to getting your Pug to enjoy the pool with you is to teach your Pug to swim. 

If your Pug dog happens to like the water, you can take your pal to some swimming lessons.  Most likely, your Pug will swim on her own.  You just have to know how to help her. 

So, where to start? 

Is your Pug Interested in Water

Not all Pugs love the pool.   

Signs that your Pug is interested in going for a swim: 

  • Your pup is eager to get his paws wet
  • Your Pug doesn’t refuse to run with you into the water
  • Your Pug dog doesn’t panic while paddling

At this point, even though your Pug can manage to swim out of instinct, you don’t want to leave your dog alone. Your job here is to get your Pug as comfortable as possible. 

Check Water Temperature

A warm pool would be ideal for an introduction. 

Water that is too cold can cause your Pug to being nervous in the first lesson. 

That said, for the first time, you can use a temp-controlled environment like a heated pool or a large bathtub. 

Get a Life Vest

Before getting into the pool, your Pug should have his life jacket for safety.

Even if you are supervising him, still put the life jacket on.  Even if your Pug is a good swimmer, he won’t be able to do it very long without a life vest.  His breathing may become labored, and it will be an unpleasant experience for him. 

So, there are rules to choose the right life jacket: 

  • Comfort: You need a comfortable jacket that fits well with your Pug. Your Pug should be able to move naturally in the vest during the swim.  Do not get a life vest that is too large.  It may slip around (or off).  This could do more harm than good! 
  •       Handle: Make sure the jacket has a sturdy handle. That helps pull your dog back toward you if he’s wandering away. Don’t forget to check for a nice place where you can clip in the leash as well.
  •       Especially important for a Pug is a front float support area.  Most life vests will have the bulk of the floatation material along the top.  For a Pug to swim comfortably, you want to help him keep his head up.  The life vest needs to include floatation material that keeps his head up.  
  •       Color: The jacket should be in a bright color so that you can pay better attention when the dog is out in the water. You can get one that has reflective stripes on it so that you can see your Pug in dim light conditions

A Slow Introduction

Boy with Pug in Lake cropped

Pugs do swim but don’t do well staying afloat. So, it would be best if you started at a shallow point. 

You can hold the Pug with you in the lake or pond; slowly lower your Pug. When the pup senses the water, he will instinctively paddle.  Some Pugs will even swim in the air!  As you move your Pug closer to the water, she may start to paddle without even touching the water.   

Your Pug dog will likely reject the water for the first time. At this point, don’t force him. You may take him out of the water and comfort him by hugging and giving soft words to encourage him. Let him know you are there.  As always, a couple of treats help also! 

Another way is you can hold the Pug close to your chest to let him feel your protection. Then lower yourself to the water. This will allow your Pug to know that the water is not dangerous.  I find this is the best way, especially the first few times you take your Pug for a swim. 

You can also apply the second technique for a swimming pool. 

It would help if you stayed patient in both ways. Your dog may reject the water a few times before he gets the point. 

The key thing is you are always there, holding your Pug securely as he progresses. Your Pug also needs your aid to hold him while he’s learning to use the legs under the water. 

Get Out of the Water

Your Pug may become confused in a large area of water.  You can lead your Pug to the shallow bank at the lake.  My Pugs have always known which direction is the edge of the pool.  When they get to the edge, I lift them out.  

That’s when the fun really begins!  The Pug zoomies start as they run around the yard.  So much for cooling down with a relaxing Pug swim. 

Go Deeper

As your Pug gets familiar with the water around him, you can release and let him paddle his own. 

You can encourage your Pup to swim a small distance to you. Always catch your Pug before he gets exhausted

Be Aware of Exhaustion

Rapid breath, delayed paddling, panicking are signs that your Pug is becoming exhausted. Pugs swim, but you want to be with her every paddle.  If you notice she is getting tired, pick her up and hold her.  Take her out of the water.  

Being in the water may make her fearful and add to her exhaustion.  Rest on the side of the pool holding your Pug (and give a couple of treats, if you can).   

Never Leave your Pug by Himself

Even with a life jacket on, you should never leave the dog unattended.  We all know that Pugs are our babies.  When your Pug swims, stay close at all times.  

Keep your Pug within an arm’s reach to ensure safety

Hire an Expert

May Pug owners even get a professional teacher for their dog. This is especially true for those who regularly go for boating and beach trips. 

Specialist skills will urge the process. And an expert knows how to keep your Pug calm and safe all the time. 

As always, check out the dog trainer or expert.  Get references and check their credentials.  Some dog trainers have good intentions but don’t have proper experience and knowledge. 

Pool Safety Tips

Unlike other breeds, Pugs may not be able to manage all alone if he accidentally falls into the pool. So, if you have a pool at home, follow these rules to keep your dogs safe.

Fence the Pool

Pool with Fence

Pool fences are required in many states across America. 

A fence keeps your pets and children from getting into the pool.  Sadly, hundreds of children die each year in pools.  

It is estimated that thousands of pets also die. 

Use a Pool Cover

It only takes a few seconds for a Pug to wander out of sight.  So often, we hear people say, “I just turned around for a second.”  No pet owner thinks they would turn their back long enough for their pet to fall into the water.  But it does happen. 

Why not spend the extra money to get a collar and alarm system that will alert you if your Pug falls in the water.  The Safety Turtle has a 100 decibels alarm that will alert you. 

How loud is it?  One hundred decibels is the sound of a jackhammer or a jet flying over at 1,000 feet.  

There will be no time wasted as you run to your Pug’s rescue. 

Be Aware of Chlorine

Your Pug may have reactions to chemicals in the pool. 

As Pugs are skin-sensitive dogs, pool chemicals are likely hazardous. 

You may want to check for signs of skin irritation and red eyes after the swimming section. 

The best thing to do right after the dog gets out of the water is to rinse him with tap water and dog shampoo. This will remove the chemicals. 

In a lake or river, there is no chlorine. But some bacteria can be harmful to your Pug. Again, it’s a good idea to give your Pug a bath with shampoo when you get home. 

Your Pug may drink the water while swimming. 

That said, keep a watchful eye. If later it seems he doesn’t feel well, take your pup to the vet. 

Don’t let your Pugs swim turn into an adverse event. 

Watch for Ear Infections

The signs can be the dog keeps scratching his ears. You may check yourself for redness or taking the dog to the vet. 

The best way to prevent the problem is to dry the Pug’s ears right after swimming. 

Put Away Pool Accessories

The pool pump and cables should get out of the way before going to the pool area. It is safe for everyone to have these tucked away.  A cable or electric cord can be hazardous for a chewing Pug.  

Pool hoses may not be dangerous, but Pool hoses are expensive pool toys.  Make sure your Pugs swim time is happy and safe. 

Your Attention

Your close observation is the key to safety during your Pugs swim.   

Never let your eyes off the dog when he is in the water.  Leave the cell phone out of reach.  People sometimes think they glance down at their cell phones for a second, only to let minutes pass by.  A Pug can get out of sight quickly. 

When swimming in lakes or ponds, pay extra attention.  Do not put your Pug in a lake or pond unless you are in there with him.  If it’s too cold for you to go in, it’s too cold for your Pug.  Always make your Pugs swim a pleasant one.


What Water Temperature is Right for the First Swimming Lesson for Pugs?

A: If you have a heated pool, set it around 60°F or 15.55°C. 

For ponds and lakes, the water should be clear and free of too many obstacles. 

Ideally, the first lesson should occur in a quiet pool without not too many people around. 

Why does my Pug Paddle above the Water?

A: Pure instinct tells your pup to paddle as he senses the water around. This is normal behavior. Yet, it may indicate that your Pug is not enjoying the water if it comes with some struggles during your Pug’s swim. 

How to Clean a Pug’s Ears after Swimming?

A: First, put the dog onto a bench or a table where you find it easy to maneuver. 

Now, you will need to understand the anatomy of the ears to do the cleaning properly. 

The dog’s ear canal runs down vertically to the side of the skull before it goes horizontally. 

Start it by opening up the ear’s flap and locating the hole, which tends to be on the ear’s outer surface. 

Grab the ear cleaner bottle and give it a shake. Then, pour a squirt into the hole. Your Pug will react to that, but you can gently hold the cartilage to adjust for the drops to get in. 

How Long Should your Pug Swim?

A: As chlorine can be irritating to the Pug’s skin, you want to limit the swimming time from 5 to 10 minutes.

Also, watch out for the level of chemicals in the pool. If the dog can tolerate chlorine, it’s ok to let him swim for 15 minutes.

How Long Does it Take for a Pug to Learn How to Swim?

A: That depends on how the dog likes the water. If your Pug enjoys the pool right from the start, he can make super-fast progress right out of the first release. 

In case your dog gets too nervous when he gets water, don’t try to force him. Instead, you can use a shallow pool as an introduction in which your pup can walk with his life vest on. This will give the Pug the idea that water is fun. 

Final Thought

Can Pugs Swim

So, can Pugs swim? Many of them certainly can.

But in any case of a swimming Pug, the Pug cannot handle much in the water. The short nasal passage is not efficient in driving enough airflow for a lot of swimming.

So, if a Pug can ever swim, he is not able to make it long. 

When you go swimming with your Pug, it’s essential to play it safe. Have your Pug wear a life jacket. Supervise him closely the entire time and give him lots of love a reassurance. 

And even if your Pug buddy rejects the water, he can still watch you having fun. 

I hope you’ve got the answer. 

And happy swimming with your Pug. 

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