If you are reading this article, there are big chances that you are wondering if you should take your cute little Frenchie to the beach with you. Perhaps it is a hot summer day and you just want to enjoy a cooling and refreshing activity like swimming together with your dog.
Well, swimming together with your beloved pet sounds like fun, and it offers a unique opportunity for bonding as well.
However, are all dog breeds great swimmers? Can all pooches swim? Can French bulldogs swim?
The answer might surprise you because, in fact, not all dogs can swim (at least not without some kind of support), and your French bulldog belongs to this group.
Now, you are probably trying to figure out why this is so, but do not worry – this article will help you understand what makes your Frenchie a bad swimmer and what can be done about it, and you will also find out if there are any health benefits for your pet when swimming.
Can French Bulldogs Swim?
No, they certainly can’t.
Although some people might find this answer peculiar, it is true – they simply cannot swim.
They are nothing like some other breeds that are great swimmers, such as well-known Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, American Water Spaniels, Portuguese Water dogs (notice the word Water!), Standard Poodles, Newfoundlands, British Setters, Irish Setters, and so on.
In fact, a dog’s ability to swim depends on its physical structure. Some of them are simply not natural swimmers. In order to understand this, we need to study their specific features. Keep reading to discover why the French Bulldog breed struggles in water.
4 Reasons Why They Are Bad Swimmers
Frenchies and water are far from a great match. Your sweet little dog just cannot compete with the previously-mentioned breeds.
Why is that so? Well, we need to be aware that French Bulldogs have specific features that make their breathing, floating, and swimming extremely difficult.
It is easy to say that they have zero chances when compared to breeds that are made for swimming, but what about a detailed explanation? The next part of this article will clarify the limitations of the French Bulldog breed.
1. Brachycephalic Dog Features – Cute, But At What Cost?
The keyword – brachycephalic breed! What does this funny word mean? Well, it originates from Greek words, and translates to “short” and “head”. This means that your Frenchie is a short-headed dog.
Throughout history, many generations of breeders followed extreme trends regarding dog body shape and structure. One example is the mentioned brachycephaly that was desired for cosmetic reasons (only!).
This is yet another reason why the French Bulldog’s cost is so high, and why there can only be a few Frenchie puppies in a litter.
As you may have already noticed, some other brachycephalic dogs are English Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese dogs, Affenpinschers, Boston Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and so on.
To put it simply, their ‘b-word’ skulls are shortened in length, which means that these breeds have a shortened snout and face, which appears flat. This gives them a unique appearance, but at what cost? What is wrong with this in the medical sense? You will find out in a moment!
2. Breathing Difficulties Take A Toll
Due to the previously discussed feature, French Bulldogs have narrow nostrils and smaller airways that not only compromise their breathing, but also cause some health problems (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, spinal problems, skin problems, eye problems, and so on).
In other words, these dogs have a body structure that makes their breathing difficult during a demanding activity such as swimming. This activity requires them to tilt their head upward, which makes breathing and floating at the same time extremely difficult.
Since swimming mostly takes place in hot weather, that is further trouble for a breed like this because these dogs will gasp for air, and may even overheat. Add that to the attempt of swimming and you will have a recipe for disaster.
Now, you understand that this breed’s unique appearance unfortunately means different health issues and struggles with basic everyday activities.
Their breeders in the past were not concerned with possible health complications – they were only concerned with appearance. Obviously, they made a mistake.
3. Their Weight Is A Minus
Here, we have another issue.
What seems to be the problem here? Well, French Bulldogs are muscular and heavy dogs, with a high muscle-to-fat ratio. This is not good for swimming because muscle is heavy, and although they are a small breed, these dogs weigh from 16 to 28 pounds.
They are top-heavy, too, which means that their body shape is far from great for swimming.
That being said, their body’s buoyancy (the ability to float) is terrible. They certainly have a hard time trying to stay afloat.
In case you leave them unattended (you should never do it!), they will most likely sink like a rock (oh, no!).
4. Their Legs Are Not A Plus Either
As you already know, this breed has short legs, and that is due to the so-called dwarfism gene. If you put them into the water, you will quickly notice that they will start paddling with these cute little legs. But, the problem is that this does not guarantee that they will stay afloat for a long time.
Yes, some other short-legged breeds can swim, but remember that your Frenchie also has the previously-mentioned limitations. When combined, they make swimming a highly unpleasant experience, which can also be fatal.
How Can I Help This Bad Swimmer?
Is there a way that French Bulldog owners could help their pets become better swimmers?
Well, I have some good news for you because although your cute Frenchie technically cannot swim, there is something you can do – you can be a patient and supportive owner who will try his/her best to help it enjoy swimming.
Wait? Does this mean that it actually can swim? Well, officially, no – but with helping equipment and your support, it can become a decent swimmer! Yaaay!
Does My Frenchie Like Water At All?
But, does this dog actually like water? Will it get excited when it sees bodies of water?
Well, Frenchies actually love water, and if there is an opportunity, they will definitely want to try to get into it. Great news for owners who want to spend some quality time with their pets!
However, bear in mind that each dog is different, and that you should not force it into water if it does not want to swim. Nobody would like that.
Perhaps you have already seen some videos on the Internet showing adorable French Bulldog puppies or adult dogs swimming, but do you feel inspired to try it with your pet?
The next section will explain everything, so just keep reading.
How To Be A Good Swimming Teacher For A Frenchie (4 Tips)
If you want to, you can become a great swimming teacher for your Frenchie. All you need to do is follow these four simple, but very important steps:
1. Never Leave Your Frenchie Unattended
First things first: you should never leave this dog unattended. Just imagine that it is a toddler that requires your full attention.
For safety reasons, make sure that your Frenchie always has company while swimming if you, for example, really need to get out of the water. If anything goes wrong, remember that this dog can easily drown even in shallow water.
2. A Dog Life Jacket Is A Must
Yes, you have read that right – your French Bulldog needs to wear this while swimming.
It should wear one that fits tightly around its body. You need to remember this because otherwise, it may slip off. Of course, you should buy a quality one, too.
While you are reading this, you can easily look them up online, for example, on Amazon or some other similar websites.
One crucial thing here is that you should always keep in mind that although your pooch will have a life jacket or a life vest on, it will still have a hard time trying to keep its short snout above the water. Poor little Frenchie!
Read More: Best Collars for French Bulldogs
3. Introduce Your Frenchie To Water Slowly And Carefully
This is extremely important because if you do the opposite, it may shock your cute little pooch.
If the water is shallow, you may think that it would be a good idea to throw him into it, but do not do that. You should introduce him to water slowly and gradually. In other words, your beloved pet should be introduced to smaller bodies of water first, and then bigger ones. How can you do this?
You can start with a sprinkler (your pet will most likely get obsessed with it), and then introduce it to a small kiddie pool that is not completely filled with water. During this stage, your pooch should only get his feet wet.
The next stage is a swimming pool or a lake – just let your dog explore it and build some confidence. It would be great if you could bring him to the same place every time so that he can get more familiar with it. Some dogs, just like humans, get anxious when they visit a new place for the first time.
4. Now, Let It Swim!
After a couple of weeks (or days – it depends on your pooch), it is certainly time for the real thing!
The first thing you should do is find a place with warm water (freezing cold water should be avoided, of course).
But, before that… you can, for example, invite your friends whose dogs like swimming to join you because big chances are that your French Bulldog will want to do it if it sees them having fun.
Then, when you and your Frenchie get near water, you can get in first, and then try to motivate it to join you. You can also either hold its favorite toy, a stick, or even offer a treat. Just be patient and you will have a lot of fun!
Once your pooch starts swimming, make sure it does not do it for too long since it is an activity that requires a lot of energy. It is also suggested that you swim alongside your French Bulldog for extra safety and confidence.
The moment you decide it is time to stop swimming and have a break, keep in mind that you also need to ensure that your dog exits the water safely.
And… that is all! I hope these tips will help you and your pooch have a safe, fun, and unforgettable swimming experience.
The Health Benefits Of Swimming For Your Frenchie
Now that you have learned that you really can be a good swimming teacher for your French Bulldog, it is good to know that there are some health benefits of swimming as well.
So, next time you are near water, remember that swimming is healthy both for you and your pet.
It improves circulation, strengthens the heart and lungs, increases metabolism, and relieves stress – just to name a few!
French Bulldogs are active dogs, and they need to exercise at least one hour a day; otherwise, they risk obesity – they are prone to it. So, swimming is a fun activity that will keep them active, fit, and healthy. And… we all want our dogs to be happy and healthy – don’t we?
Do French Bulldogs like water? Yes! Do they make good swimmers? No. Although this might sound discouraging to their owner, the exciting news is that we have explained that your Frenchie actually can enjoy swimming.
Well, swimming really is a fun activity that improves their overall health, and although Frenchies are not made for it, they still can swim with the right support and equipment.
It is crucial for you to remember that due to brachycephaly, these dogs have a shortened snout and a flat face. This gives them not only a unique appearance, but it also causes some health issues. In the context of swimming, this means that they will struggle while trying to breathe.
Since their snout is short, they will constantly need to lift their head up to keep it above the water level. This is both physically and mentally exhausting for them. Other limitations in this context are their weight and their short legs.
Their body shape and weight heavily compromise their ability to float, and in case you leave them alone while swimming (even in shallow water), they can sink and drown very quickly. Their short legs, combined with all of the mentioned, are a big minus.
Finally, can French Bulldogs swim? Technically… no, but Frenchie owners can be good swimming teachers who will buy a flotation device (a dog life jacket or a dog life vest) for their pets and ensure that they have a pleasant and safe swimming experience.
It is also essential that you gradually introduce them into the water – you can follow the children pool / swimming pool / lake, sea, river method. Basically, this is a shallow water to deep water approach.
So, what are you waiting for? It is time to have some fun with your Frenchie!