People love German Shepherd dogs for their numerous virtues, including their adventurous spirit and athletic abilities.
In summers, you might look for cool and fun ways to beat the heat with your four-legged friend. But have you ever thought about taking your German Shepherd out for a swim instead of a walk?
Secret Fact: Dogs love it when you change their exercise routine from time to time!
The connection, however, between a German Shepherd and swimming and water is more complicated than you may think. You must have heard some people claiming that German Shepherds love water and swimming, while others argue about quite the opposite!
So, let’s float through a sequence of questions to answer all your doubts relating to a German Shepherd, swimming, water and whether can your German Shepherd hit the beach, lake, or just your local pool in this hot summer season!
Do German Shepherds like the water?
In general, most German Shepherds tend to play around in the water and like it, due to their high levels of energy. There are usually no problems as they are athletic and courageous dogs.
Whether your German Shepherd likes water or not, however, completely depends on his/her individual personality. Some may like water, some may hate it and then there will be some who neither hate nor love it totally.
Although some owners may find this insignificant, yet there can be many sophisticated reasons behind your German Shepherd’s reaction to water:
- He/she may hate or fear it due to a past traumatic experience.
- On the other hand, a German Shepherd might like the water if he/she have has had a positive experience with the water in the past.
- He/she may neither love nor hate the water if they have zero knowledge about it.
Can German Shepherds Swim?
Same as the previous question, there isn’t a specific answer to this as well. Generally, most German Shepherds can swim, but whether your buddy can really swim will be determined by his/her inclination towards the water as:
Fear of Water = Fear of Swimming
The two biggest factors that determine whether a dog breed can swim are:
- The dog’s breed
- Breed’s Traits (short-limbed, long-limbed, tall, heavy, short, light, etc.)
There will be some German Shepherds who can swim perfectly fine, while others who can’t swim at all.
But, no need to despair if your German Shepherd can’t swim as you can not only train him/her to swim but in the process, he/she can also learn to love it!
Takeaway Fact: Retriever and Labrador breeds are the best swimmers.
Takeaway Tip for people with German Shepherd Puppies: Please make sure that your pup doesn’t have any traumatic experience that makes them scared of a body of water.
What makes German Shepherds such excellent swimmers?
- These guard dogs have long legs
- They have long snouts and are naturally lean
- These family pets have a double outer coat
Are German Shepherds natural swimmers?
German Shepherds can swim quite well after training as they are strong and athletic dogs. But, no they are not natural swimmers.
Why aren’t German Shepherds natural swimmers?
This question has a simple and direct answer- Simply because they weren’t naturally bred to be swimmers!
German Shepherds perform better in a lot of different fields and possess a lot of different abilities. These dogs are mostly trained and bred for herding, and to be part of the police field or the military.
On the other hand, popular breeds such as Labradors and Retrievers were historically bred for preying and this naturally adapted them to swimming.
Can you breed German Shepherds to be Natural Swimmers?
Short Answer- Yes, you can breed German Shepherds to be Natural Swimmers.
Firstly, you need to look for the traits that a natural swimmer breed has, like:
- Webbed feet
- Coat, leg length, etc.
Breed your German Shepherd with a Golden Retriever or a Labrador, and get a Natural Swimmer!!
Tip: Training your German Shepherd to swim would be a better option as this would maintain the pure line.
What to do if your German Shepherd doesn’t like to swim?
Try to determine the reasons for which your German Shepherd doesn’t like to swim. Getting to the root of the problem will make it much easier for your dog to learn and love swimming.
Try to find out the answer of questions related to his past such as:
- Has there been a traumatic experience in the past related to water with your German Shepherd?
- Does your German Shepherd have a medical condition that makes swimming hard for them?
- Is it too cold outside for your German Shepherd?
How to train your German Shepherd to swim?
- Choose a place for training
- Go along with a family member, lead/leash or a friend
- Observe how your German Shepherd reacts around the water’s edge
- Move step by step towards the body of water
- Put on a life jacket to your German Shepherd and move to deeper waters
Now, let’s discuss each one in much detail.
- Choose a place for training – Lake water/Lakeside or beach is the perfect place for training your German Shepherd to swim as strong currents or waves can scare your dog
- Go along with a family member, lead, swimming leash, or a friend – You may also take a fellow trainer for additional safety. After accomplishing your goal, give some treats to your dog
- Observe how your German Shepherd reacts around water’s edge – Observe how cautious or scared your dog is around the water. Keep the training of your German Shepherd extremely short and slow if your dog is extremely scared and shows aggressive signs such as biting, shaking, snarling and whimpering
- Move step by step towards the body of water – Stand about 1.5 m away from your German Shepherd on his/her leash and slowly get your dog to feel and touch the water with his/her feet. Be relaxed and calm around the water so that your dog gets the impression that there is nothing about the water that will harm him/her
- Put on a life jacket to your German Shepherd and move to deeper waters – Do the same process (as depicted in the last step) out into deeper water, once your dog is comfortable with playing in chest-high water
How to train your German Shepherd to fetch in the water?
- Make sure that your German Shepherd knows how to fetch on land
- Try floating (throwing) their favorite toy in the water
- First, try short distances and shallow water
- Next move on to the deeper water where your dog can touch
- Next, slowly move at a farther distance on to deep water
What is the necessary equipment needed for German Shepherd’s swimming training?
The necessary equipment needed for your German Shepherd’s swimming training are:
- Dog Life Jackets
- Dog Goggles
- Dog Collar
- Dog Swimming Leash
Let’s discuss each necessary equipment in detail.
- Dog Life Jackets – A life jacket is necessary for your German Shepherd to avoid drowning. To avoid further problems, do check that the life jacket fits in perfectly
- Dog Goggles – It is recommended to buy goggles for your German Shepherd as his/her eyes are also sensitive to water
- Dog Collars – If you want to have something to grab on when your German Shepherd is drowning or if you want to spot your dog instantly, get your German Shepherd a collar now!
- Dog Swimming Leash – With a Dog Swimming Leash, you can easily monitor your dog without getting wet. Just make sure that you don’t make it so tight that your dog start to feel suffocated.
What should be kept in mind while training your German Shepherd to swim?
- Be patient and go slow
- If your German Shepherd is a poor swimmer, use a life jacket for extra safety of the dog
- Do not push or force your German Shepherd to water, otherwise, he/she may get more aggressive or develop more fear of water
Other things that should be kept in mind while teaching/training your German Shepherd to swim are:
- Spending too much time in the water under the sun might exhaust and tire your German Shepherd. Therefore, do not stay out for too long
- Make sure that you rinse your German Shepherd after swimming if the water was chlorinated
- Do not leave your German Shepherd unsupervised or allow him/her to swim off far
- Use extra safety and pay extra attention to your German Shepherd in moving water
Which water is best for your German Shepherd to swim in – Fresh Water or Salt Water?
Freshwater is the best water for your German Shepherd to swim in, especially in the earlier stages when your dog is learning to swim and may swallow lots of water.
Saltwater is the worst choice of water to let your German Shepherd to swim in as swallowing too much of saltwater may cause:
This will make him/her so sick that you may need to consult a vet ASAP.
What to be cautious about when letting your German Shepherd swim?
- Make sure that the water is clean
- Do not let your German Shepherd drink too much of water
- Do not allow them to spend too much time in chlorinated pools
- Do a check to make sure that the German Shepherd’s swimming area and the area around is safe
What to do when water gets into German Shepherd’s Ears?
- Try to remove the water yourself, however, this will be your liability and choice (Only try this if you are sure that you can successfully remove the water from German Shepherd’s ears without hurting him/her)
- Take your German Shepherd to the vet
German Shepherds are quite flexible and robust with what their bodies are able to handle and tolerate. Therefore, they should be able to get the water out by themselves by tilting or shaking their heads. But, follow the above-mentioned steps if the water gets trapped in their ears and stays there due to their long ear canals. Also, you should look out for signs of discomfort and pain such as:
- Rubbing his head on the ground
- After swimming, making sounds of discomfort or yelping
- Continuous pawning at his ears
How long should a German Shepherd swim for?
A German Shepherd’s Swim time in water depends on how familiar he/she is with water and his/her fitness level. But on a more general level,
- Minimum Swim Time in saltwater– 10 minutes
- Maximum Swim Time in freshwater– 30 minutes
Remember German Shepherds are naturally athletic dogs. If they go on to enjoy swimming and become excellent swimmers, you can allow them to be in the water for 30 minutes straight and it will be an awesome workout as well!
Can German Shepherds drown in a pool?
Yes, German Shepherds can drown in a pool, even if they grow to become strong swimmers. The following situations may result in drowning of a German Shepherd-
- He/she may become too tired if trapped in water (ice holes, rough areas or swimming pools)
- A German Shepherd may panic in a strong current
Therefore, never leave your German Shepherd alone in the water!
What to do when German Shepherds drink pool water?
If you find out that your German Shepherd has swallowed an excess of pool water and shows signs of an allergy, take him to the vet immediately. Adding a canine electrolyte solution to the German Shepherd’s swimming water can help too!
What are the benefits of swimming for German Shepherd Dogs?
- Swimming lessens the pressure on your German Shepherd’s joints and tendons
- Swimming helps your German Shepherd to get some relief on hot summer days and aids weight loss as well
- It can be used as a technique to boost your German Shepherd’s exercise routine
- It can help to increase his/her mobility
Therefore, swimming as a form of exercise can improve your German Shepherd’s overall health. It can also be treated as a fun exercise by adding a ‘Fetching The Toy’ game to the exercise.
A dip in a body of water is surely a great way to cool down, no matter whether you train your dog yourself or hire an expert to get the job done!
Moreover, be it slightly warm water or cold water, start exposing your German Shepherd to the water:
- Via a Kiddie Pool
- Or take a chance to explore the beautiful natural world
- Or just have a blast in the backyard!
Also, do check if your German Shepherd likes to swim and you are not forcing him to do so!
With a little bit of practice, your German Shepherd will be ready to hit the lakeside, the beach, or the pool!
Any concerns or questions regarding German Shepherd, Swimming, and Water are welcome in the comments.