Can Boston Terriers Swim? How to Train Your Dog to Swim

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by Lily Ferreras


Most dogs are able to swim, but it seems some simply love and enjoy being in water. This is usually influenced by what they were bred for.

But what about the Boston Terrier – do they do well in water and swimming?

Boston Terriers are not natural swimmers (they weren’t bred for swimming) but can swim and become great swimmers, especially if taught early. However, they cannot swim for great distances or a long time, since they are a brachycephalic breed.

Let’s see how to introduce your Boston Terrier to water and how they can learn to swim!

Can Boston Terriers Swim?

There’s a misconception about Boston Terriers not being able to swim due to being a brachycephalic breed. Pugs and French Bulldogs also have the reputation of being bad swimmers, and they also are a brachycephalic breed.

True enough, not all dogs are natural swimmers. Dogs like spaniels, retrievers, and poodles, for example, love water and are great swimmers.

However, some dogs like Boston Terriers can easily learn to swim when they are introduced to water, especially from a young age, and can go on to become great swimmers.

Continue reading to know how to train your dog to swim!


How Long Can Boston Terriers Swim?

Although Boston Bull Terriers can swim, there are two physical characteristics that limit the distance and the time they can swim.

First, due to their short and heavier heads, Boston Bull Terriers cannot and shouldn’t be allowed to swim for great distances or a long time.

Some can do longer distances than others depending on health and weight. But they will tend to tire out fast due to their snouts being abnormally-shaped (a brachycephalic breed trait).

It takes a little more energy for them to breathe. So, you should always supervise your pooch.

Secondly, Boston Terriers don’t have “webbed feet” (skin between their toes that covers the entire opening). Their webbing only goes about 1/2 to 3/4 between the toes and it’s not as elastic.

Dogs with webbed paws such as Labradors are able to swim much stronger and longer than non-webbed feet dogs. 


Do Boston Terriers Like Water?

Many Boston Terriers will love water if you just introduce them to it when they are young.

You can start by taking a garden hose and sprinkling water near her and see if she approaches. Encouraging your pooch to play in a foldable pool in the garden is the next step.

Think of introducing water surfaces like lakes, beaches or a swimming pool as part of your pup’s socialization. Do it gradually. Let your pooch explore the area at her own pace and encourage her with a game.

But of course, never force her into the water. Boston Terriers are sensitive to negative reinforcement and harsh tone. So forcing them into an unknown situation can traumatize them and make them afraid of water.


Do Boston Terriers Like To Swim?

This is something that depends on your Boston Terrier’s preferences.

Once you know if your Boston Terrier likes water, you can progress to swimming lessons.

Just remember that not all Bostons will like water. Some will fight you tooth and nail before getting in the water!

Read also: What Are The Best Activities for Boston Terriers?


How to Teach Boston Terriers to Swim

The fun part is teaching your Boston Terrier how to swim.

The earlier you introduce your dog to water the easier it will be for her to learn. However, you should wait until your Boston Terrier is 4 to 6 months old before teaching her to swim.

This is to ensure that your Boston Terrier is strong enough to be able to swim. Also, it will warrant that she’s able to withstand temperature changes.

Follow these steps for teaching your Boston Terrier to swim:

  1. Fill your bathtub or small foldable pool with water. If possible, try to keep the water at room temperature. You want to avoid that your dog’s first experience with a water surface is a shocking one. Especially for the BT breed, since they have difficulties regulating their body temperature.
  2. Gently place your Boston Terrier into the water. You can start with their feet first to get her used to the water (the water level being low). Use encouraging voice tones and treats to reward your pooch. You can also encourage her in with her favourite “thing/object” (whatever that might be).
  3. Continue doing this until your dog is comfortable with a higher level of water, but without being submerged in water. The goal is for her to start to paddle (the “Dog Paddle”).
  4. Support your dog’s weight until she paddles. Even if she’s wearing a life vest, you can support her midsection and hindquarters in the water until she starts paddling comfortably.
  5. Once she’s used to water and paddles, you can take her to a bigger swimming pool or lake. Use a dog life jacket for safety and show her how to get out of the pool too. If you are in a pool, show her where the steps are.
  6. Carefully guide your dog into the water. At first, she will more than likely swim back to the edge as soon as possible. However, after several attempts, your Boston may start to stay in the water for longer periods of time.
  7. After your dog has been swimming confidently in deeper pools and ponds for a while, you can throw a floating toy at her and play fetch. Most Boston Terriers will enjoy this.

Boston Terrier Swimming Safety

Regardless of how great of a swimmer your Boston Terrier is…

Never leave your dog alone in or around water. Swimming should always be a supervised activity.

Basically, do the same that you would do with kids. You either join your dog for a swim or be as close as you can possibly be to her. i.e. you are her lifeguard, so stay on duty ;).

Since Boston Terriers are not natural swimmers, they are at more risk of drowning than other dogs.

Life jackets, as mentioned before, are a great safety tool. Bostons are good swimmers but they tire easily. Plus, dogs can get themselves in situations where it may be difficult to swim out of (for instance, in a wavy sea).

Leave a Reply
  1. I never knew that some dogs like Boston Terriers can easily learn to swim when they are introduced to water, especially from a young age, and can go on to become great swimmers. I never thought that it would be like this, it is an intriguing article to read and I will also share this with my aunt. Thank you for the information about low testosterone.

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