Can Pitbulls Swim? 

By Britt Kascjak

Yes, Pitbulls can learn to swim. But, they may not be interested. Unlike other dog breeds, like Labrador retrievers or Golden Retrievers, the Pitbulls aren’t natural swimmers. Their body shape and extensive muscles make it more difficult for them. If you do decide to teach your pitbull to swim, you may need to take extra safety precautions.

Can My Pitbull Learn to Swim?

Do you love spending time on the water and want to include your pitbull in the fun? Are you considering whether it’s safe to let your pitbull swim in your backyard pool? Maybe you think it could a fun way to help your pit bull gain muscle?

Do you love spending time on the water and want to include your Pitbull in the fun? Are you considering whether it’s safe to let your Pit bull swim in your backyard pool?

With the rising summer temperatures, many dog owners are cooling off with a nice swim. This could include hanging out at the pool or visiting a nearby lake.

Your dog is also feeling the heat. If you’re a Pit bull owner, this may have you wondering – Can Pit bulls swim?

While Pitbull type dogs are not automatically great swimmers, you may be able to train your dog to enjoy the water safely.

Are Pitbulls Natural Swimmers?

No, Pitbulls are not natural swimmers. They were bred to be strong, muscular dogs with large heads to bite and hold bulls, bears, and other larger animals. This isn’t a labrador retriever we’re talking about.

This muscular build can make activities like swimming or even long distance running a little more challenging.

But, a dog that is taught to swim can overcome the fact that they aren’t built to float in water. Even if they aren’t as graceful in the process.

Because your Pitbull is such a muscular dog, it means that the weighs more than many other breeds of the same size.

Their muscles can help them keep up with the physical demands of swimming. But, at the same time, they can weigh them down making it harder to stay afloat.

Pit bulls also have a larger head in relation to the size of their body.

This makes it harder for these dogs to keep their heads above the water. Of course, doing so is an important factor in being able to swim safely!

Finally, there is the structure of your dog’s body to consider. Pit bulls have wider chests and shorter legs than dogs that were bred to swim.

This puts them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to swimming.

They are going to have to work harder to keep themselves afloat. As a result, they will also wear out faster.

Brachycephalic Dogs

Pit bulls are not brachycephalic dogs. But, many similar breeds that are misidentified are such as the American Bulldog.

Brachycephalic dogs have shorter snouts and flattened faces. Not only does this change their appearance, but it also impacts their ability to breathe properly.

Any dog with a shorter snout is going to have a harder time swimming. This is due to the fact that they have to lift their heads higher to keep them out of the water.

If they do accidentally get water up their noses, it can be harder for them to catch their breath and get back to normal.

This challenge when swimming can be carried over to other non-brachycephalic dogs with shorter snouts.

Do Pit bulls Enjoy Swimming?

There is no one answer to the question of whether Pitbulls enjoy swimming. This is due to the fact that it will vary from dog to dog.

Pitbulls aren’t naturally good swimmers, so they don’t all love spending time in the water.

But, many Pitbulls have been trained to swim safely and love cooling off on a hot summer day.

Why Are Pitbulls Afraid of Water?

Not all dogs under the Pitbull breeds are afraid of water, but a good majority are. There are many reasons that this could occur.

The breeds that fall under the Pitbull label aren’t bred to swim. As a result, they have a harder time staying afloat and keeping their heads out of the water without a life jacket.

If your pitbull has only tried swimming once or twice and it was a bad experience, it could lead to trauma.

In that case, you may have a harder time bringing your individual dog around to enjoy the water. You will need to be extra patient while helping to reframe their feelings about swimming.

With this dog breed it’s important to focus on building trust with your Pitbull. It will make it much easier to introduce swimming as a positive experience. Then maybe your pup will like to swim.

How Do I Get My Pitbull to Swim?

If your American pitbull terrier or American Bully is new to the water, you need to start by simply being around the water versus in the water.

Try hanging out and playing with your dog alongside a body of water. This will allow them to get used to the sounds, smells, and sights.

Don’t forget to offer plenty of treats during this time. Rewarding your dog regularly will help to frame this as a positive experience.

The most important thing to remember is that your dog needs to dictate how quickly you move. Don’t push him to get into the water faster than he is ready to.

Forcing your dog into the water when he is still anxious may turn him against water entirely.

Can You Train a Pitbull to Swim?

Yes! You can train a pitbull to swim! When your Pitbull is comfortable being around water and stepping into it slightly, it’s time to take the next step.

Keep in mind that this may not happen quickly. You will need to build your dog’s confidence in the water.

Begin by bringing your dog into shallow water with you, allowing him to stand. Introduce a favorite toy or some high-value treats to help him see this as a positive experience.

When it comes time to introduce deeper water, make sure you go in the water with him. As he sees you move through the water, it will help to make him feel more comfortable.

Despite all your efforts, it’s important to recognize that some Pitbulls are never going to enjoy swimming. And, that’s okay!

Is it OK to Let Your Pitbull Swim in Your Pool?

Just like human children, your dog should be supervised when around the pool.

If you plan on allowing your water-loving Pitbull in the pool, take time to show him how to enter and exit the pool. Be sure that he confidently knows how to get out when needed.

After spending time in the pool, make sure to rinse your Pitbull off.

Chemicals like chlorine can cause skin irritation if left on his skin for too long. But, a quick water rinse can take care of this.

Can Pitbull Puppies Swim?

Puppies can usually swim in a small body of water, but they need to be introduced slowly.

Pay careful attention to showing them how to enter and exit in case they become scared. You should also supervise them carefully to make sure there are no problems.

If you are planning on taking your puppy to a public space, make sure that he is fully vaccinated.

There are many potentially fatal illnesses that he may be exposed to in a public space. This includes Parvo and Distemper. Vaccinations will help to keep him safe.

Final Thoughts: Can Pitbulls Swim?

Returning to the original question, can Pitbulls swim? The answer is yes and no.

While some Pitbulls can be trained to swim, they aren’t natural-born swimmers. As a result, it’s more difficult for them than many other dogs.

Take your time introducing your pitbull to your pool or nearby lake.

But, be prepared for the fact that your pitbull may never enjoy being in the water. Pay attention to his comfort level and respond accordingly.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.