Can Dachshunds Swim?

Dachshund swimming in water

Do you want to take your Dachshund for a swim? Are you wondering if Dachshunds can swim? Do you want to help your Dachshund learn how to swim? Here’s everything you need to know about Dachshunds and swimming. 

Can Dachshunds swim? Yes, Dachshunds can swim and can definitely be taught to swim. However, swimming doesn’t come naturally to Dachshunds as they’re hunting dogs by nature. It’s also an exhausting activity for short-legged Dachshunds so they won’t be able to swim for long periods of time.

But, before you put your Dachshund in the water, there’s more you need to know! Read on to find out more about your Dachshund’s ability to swim, and how you can teach your Dachshund to swim. 

This article is based on research and personal experience as a Dachshund owner of 10+ years. I’m not a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist.

Do Dachshunds Like The Water? 

Dachshunds are certainly able to swim, but it might not be something which comes naturally to them. They were originally bred as hunting and burrowing dogs, so unlike other breeds they’re less naturally inclined for swimming.

Many Dachshunds really like the water and start trying to swim right away. Others might not know what to do, so you may have to spend some time teaching them.

However, if your Dachshund shows you clear signs that he’s deeply uncomfortable in the water, don’t ever force him to swim.

Your Dachshund’s short legs make swimming hard

Keep in mind that your Dachshund’s short legs and long body make swimming a very tiring task.

Your Dachshund’s physical qualities mean he won’t be a strong swimmer. It’ll be hard work to keep himself afloat and he’s not going to be able to swim for long, even once he knows how.

Sadly, there’s a real risk of drowning for Dachshunds when they get too tired in the water, so you should NEVER leave them in the water by themselves.

Dachshund enthusiastically jumping into the water to swim
Dachshund jumping into the water to swim

Is Swimming Good For Dachshunds? 

Swimming can be good exercise for any dog, including Dachshunds! 

Taking your Dachshund into the water for short amounts of time can be helpful for his joints.

Dachshunds are particularly prone to back-related injuries due to their size and shape, and swimming could help to strengthen their muscles and rehabilitate them after back surgery.

Hydra therapy is often an important part of recovery from Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).

Should I Get A Life Jacket For My Dachshund?  

Yes, make sure you get your Dachshund a life jacket. Dachshunds will tire quickly when they’re in the water so a life jacket will be a form of protection for your Dachshund. It’ll allow him to stay afloat even if he runs out of energy from paddling.

Life jackets are also very important when you’re on or near deep water, even if you’re not intending for your Dachshund to swim. For example, on things like boat or canal trips where he could potentially jump in.

Choosing the right life jacket for a Dachshund

Getting the right life jacket is really important for your Dachshund’s safety. Most crucially, the life jacket must float when your Dachshund is in it. 

The life jacket must fit your Dachshund properly too. It might be a bit of a task to find a good life jacket due to your Dachshund’s long and small size, but there are options available. 

Choose a life jacket which allows your Dachshund to move around easily, it shouldn’t be too constricting. A jacket with adjustable straps will be easier to fit comfortably onto your Dachshund.

The life jacket should be tight enough that your Dachshund can’t wriggle out of it, but not so tight that it rubs against his skin (just like some harnesses do).

The life jacket should also be very strong so it can withstand general wear and tear. 

If you want to make it easy to pull your Dachshund out of water, it would be better to have a life jacket with handles that you can grip onto if needed.

Dachshund in a life jacket on a boat
Dachshund in a life jacket on a boat

Getting your Dachshund used to wearing a life jacket

To get your Dachshund used to wearing a life jacket, strap him into it while you’re in the house or in a familiar place. 

Let your Dachshund get wet with the life jacket on before he tries out swimming, perhaps by trying it on in the bath or a paddling pool.

How Do I Teach My Dachshund To Swim?

Even though swimming might not be something that comes naturally to your Dachshund, it’s possible to teach him how to swim.

It’s probably going to take some time for your Dachshund to learn how to swim, so it’s important to be patient with his progress.

This is how to teach a Dachshund to swim:

Start when your Dachshund is young

If it’s possible, get your Dachshund used to the water at a young age. If he gets used to the water as a puppy, he’ll be more comfortable with swimming as he gets older.

Introducing your Dachshund to swimming at a younger age might even mean he’s more inclined to enjoy swimming. 

Younger Dachshunds are going to be more up for trying new things than an older dog who’s more set in his ways.

So, if your Dachshund is still a puppy, now is the perfect time to get him excited about the water.

Go slowly and gradually

Swimming lessons should be short and sweet. Start off really slow, and only get your Dachshund to swim for a minute or two. 

Don’t make your Dachshund swim in the water for more than 5 minutes at a time in the beginning.

You don’t want to overwhelm him or let him get too cold and tired.

Begin with very shallow water

You can start off by letting your Dachshund get used to being wet in the water before including the swimming element.

This way, your Dachshund can learn to enjoy the water before the added stress of having to swim is included.

Part fill a children’s paddling pool (or bath) with lukewarm water so your Dachshund can still stand. Encourage him to move through the water towards you when you call him.

If he’s happy playing in the water and coming towards you, fill it with a little more water so his feet lift just slightly off the ground. You want it so he can still reach the floor if he needs to.

He should naturally start paddling his feet, but see how he reacts and, if he tries to swim, keep your arm underneath his belly for support.

Don’t leave his side even for a second. You must be there to supervise at all times.

If he does swim and enjoys it, give him lots of praise! If he doesn’t enjoy it, take him out of the water as swimming may not be for him!

Progress to a swimming pool

Only progress to a swimming pool if you Dachshund was happy to swim in shallow water. They aren’t natural swimmers so don’t force him to swim if he doesn’t want to.

A swimming pool will be the safest place to teach your Dachshund to swim in deeper water. You need a contained area where he’s safe at all times.

It wouldn’t be a good idea to take your Dachshund swimming far into the sea for example, as he’ll never be a strong enough swimmer to withstand those conditions.

It’s best to ask a friend to help you. Get into the swimming pool yourself and hold your Dachshund in your arms while you do.

Slowly walk around in the water with your Dachshund in your arms but, if he becomes upset or distressed, get your friend to carefully lift him out.

Do this a handful of times and hopefully he’ll get used to being in deeper water with you holding him. If not, swimming may not be for him!

Never under any circumstances, force your Dachshund into deep water and expect him to know how to swim. You have to go slowly and gradually and do things at his pace.

Dachshund swimming along happily in a lake
Dachshund splashing and swimming happily in a lake

Put your Dachshund in the water (but don’t let go yet!) 

Either holding your Dachshund or holding onto the handles of the life jacket, let your Dachshund’s legs become submerged in the water.

Keep your arm under his belly to support him while he gets used to the deeper water, and never leave his side until you know he’s 100% comfortable.

Like most dogs, your Dachshund will probably start to kick his legs quite quickly when he feels the water on his paws.

Move slowly around in the water, supporting your Dachshund with your arm or hands as he swims.

Do this until you feel your Dachshund has taken his own weight and seems confident to swim along on his own.

Now, let your Dachshund try swimming on his own!

Once you think your Dachshund is getting the hang of paddling and seems to be enjoying it, slowly remove your arm from under his belly and watch him swim on his own!

Keep your arm about eight inches below him but not touching, and stay right by his side.

If he shows any signs of distress, hold onto the handle of his life jacket or support his belly with your arm and lift him straight out of the water (get your friend or partner to help with that).

You can try again another time, but you may need to go back a few stages and move more slowly in future.

Call out to your Dachshund

The next step is to ask your friend or partner to get into the water with you.

One of you could hold onto your Dachshund and the other can call out to your Dachshund to get him to try and swim towards you.

Your Dachshund is likely to try and swim, so let him paddle his legs and gently move with them towards your helper.

Start at a very short distance to begin with and then build on that over time.

If your Dachshund shows any signs of distress, stop immediately and move back a stage. He may need more time to get used to the water or he may never get used to it at all.

At the end of the day, you want your Dachshund to be happy and enjoy swimming. So, if he isn’t having fun, don’t make him do it!

Most importantly, NEVER leave your Dachshund unattended in deep water and always make sure there’s an easy exit for him to get out (or for you to get him out).

Once your Dachshund is out of the water, give him a bath to remove any chlorine or dirt from his coat and dry him off thoroughly!

So, there you have it! Dachshunds can be taught to swim but they’re hunting dogs by nature and are more used to burrowing into land. Some Dachshunds love water and some simply don’t. A lot comes down to the individual dog so be guided by his actions.

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Dachshund swimming in a pool with the words 'can dachshunds swim' written above
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