Can a Pug Swim? Facts & FAQ
Pugs are wonderful, affectionate, and charming companions, so it’s no surprise that you’d want to share all of life’s adventures with them, including trips to the beach or splashing around in your backyard pool.
But don’t throw your pug into the water just yet. Yes, pugs can swim a little bit, but they’re not really built for it. Keep reading to learn more about your pug’s swimming abilities and how you can help them enjoy the water safely.
Pugs Know the Doggy Paddle, But…
All dogs, including pugs, are born with the instinct to paddle their paws when they’re in water. This doesn’t automatically make them good swimmers.
Some breeds are literally born to swim.1 For instance, Labrador Retrievers were bred to retrieve waterfowls for hunters. Newfoundlands were trained for water rescue, while Portuguese Water Dogs helped fisherfolk by herding fish into fishing nets, retrieving equipment lost in the water, and couriers between boats.
As for pugs? Not so much. Technically, pugs can swim and paddle if they’re forced to. Unfortunately, they won’t last long in the water before needing to be rescued.
Why Pugs Aren’t Strong Swimmers
Everything that makes pugs so cute: their smushed faces, short legs, and stocky but compact body. But these things hamper their swimming ability. Here are some reasons why:
1. Their Flat Snouts Make It Hard to Breathe
Pugs are a brachycephalic breed, which means they have short, flat faces and compacted airways. This anatomical feature makes it difficult for pugs to breathe—and that’s on dry land.
In the water, pugs need to lift their head higher to keep their nose and mouth out of the water, which can further compromise their airflow.
2. Their Short Legs and Body Shape Don’t Help
Pugs have a stocky, elongated body with very short legs. They lack the streamlined form of natural swimmers like Labrador Retrievers, and they’re unable to maintain proper swimming posture. Their short legs also don’t provide the same propulsion as longer-legged breeds, requiring more effort to move through the water or even just stay afloat.
3. They Tire Out Easily
If you’re looking for a lap dog who’d rather nap than go to the dog park, you’ll love having a pug in your life. But if you want an active dog who can join you in outdoor adventures (including swimming), you may want to look into another breed.
Swimming is just too physically demanding for the average pug. It requires significant oxygen intake, which a pug’s respiratory structure simply can’t provide. Also, this is a breed that only requires one walk a day (and split into two short ones at that);2 it can take minutes of swimming before they reach the point of exhaustion.
Keeping Swim Time Safe for Pugs
With that said, you can still take your pug swimming as long as you observe these precautions:
Alternatives to Swimming for Pugs
If your pug isn’t keen on swimming, there are other ways for them to enjoy the water:
Pugs may not be the strongest swimmers, but they don’t have to miss all the water fun. Keep them safe by having them wear a life jacket and giving them frequent breaks during swim time. If you’d rather keep them on land, consider getting them a splash pad or kiddie pool instead!
Featured Image Credit: BLACK LEMON, Shutterstock
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