Can Dachshunds Swim? 4 Things You Should Know


Dachshunds are naturally fearless and will pursue toys or prey into areas of potential danger without a backward glance. Though some dog breeds take to water like professionals from puppyhood, not all dog breeds are suited to swimming. Your Dachshund may be willing to jump into anything, but are Dachshunds capable of swimming?

Dachshunds can swim and often grow to love the water; however, their long bodies and short legs are not suited to swimming. Dachshunds are not naturally strong swimmers, and care should be taken to introduce your Doxie to water. Swimming training and life vests are a great way to start your Doxie off swimmingly. 

If you want to share the water with your Dachshund this summer, you should ensure that you consider the breed’s physical limitations. Though their bodies are great at burrowing and tracking prey, they do not have efficient swimming physiology.

If you would like to know how to introduce your Doxie to swimming, please read on, and stick around to the end of this article to see a cute video of a Dachshund swimming like a scuba diver!

Why Are Dachshunds Poor Swimmers?

The physical feature that makes your Dachshund such great little hunters on the ground is the very reason why they don’t function well in the water.

Their shortened legs that make them great to burrow after fearsome badgers make for poor propulsion in deeper water. Most dog breed’s paws and swimming strokes provide the propulsion necessary to keep them buoyant.

Dachshunds have shortened limbs due to a retrogene fgf4 mutation acquired around 300 years ago that caused chondrodysplasia (a short-legged phenotype.) The shortened limb mutation was adopted into many modern dog breeds such as Corgis, bassets, and your beloved Dachshund.

This short-legged mutation was invaluable in modern dog breeding for hunting and made the Dachshund a champion burrower and prey tracker. However, in swimming, the dog’s limbs provide the paddles necessary to propel the dog through water, and the Dachshund does not fare well. 

Their legs make inefficient paddles, and dachshunds must work much harder than other dogs to stay afloat and cause them to tire quickly in the water. Owners should bear in mind these physiological challenges when introducing their Doxie to swimming. 

Do Dachshunds Like to Swim?

Everyone who has ever had the pleasure of owning a Doxie knows that they are highly individualistic and have strong personalities. Some Dachshunds will embrace swimming from the get-go, while others might find the whole idea suspect and refuse to partake in the entire swimming fiasco. 

My Dachshund decided to follow her ball into the swimming pool when she was around six months and was swimming laps before we could even react. Emily also thinks that she is a sea dog and leaps into the waves like a sausage-shaped torpedo. 

That being said, Emily is not half as strong swimmer as she thinks she is and tends to lie relatively low in the water, so I make sure she has her lifejacket on at all times around water.

Important Note: Dachshunds have a very low profile in the water and find it challenging to keep their heads elevated in the swimming position. This hindrance means they often get tired easily when swimming.

How Can I get my Dachshund to Swim?

Dachshunds are easier to train as puppies than adults, as their stubborn natures may make them reluctant to try new things as they get older. There are certain ways to encourage your Dachshund to try swimming:

Familiarization

Try and get your Doxie used to being around water when they are young. If you live near a lake or river, allow them to walk near the water source.

Encourage them to wet their feet ( without being forced) and become accustomed to the sound, sight, and feel of water so that it becomes familiar to them. 

Baby Steps 

Once your Dachshund becomes comfortable standing on the edges of the water, you should reinforce the action with praise or treats.

Once they seem comfortable with the water, then find a shallow water source deep enough to partially submerge their bodies while their paws have contact with the ground. Ensure there are no currents or waves that are dangerous to your pet.

Time To Get Wet

Once your pup is beginning to enjoy the feel of water, it is time for you to get wet as well. When encouraging your dog to take the plunge into deeper water, you should ideally be there for support should they panic or experience first-time jitters. 

There are dog swimming classes available if you aren’t a water lover and wish to have a professional train your Doxie.

However, your Dachshund must learn to swim if you have any open water sources on your property. Otherwise, you will need to restrict access or ensure that your pool is covered.

A great alternative is a doggy swimming vest, especially if you are around the sea. Swimming vests such as the Outward Hound Life jacket, which has floating neck support, particularly suits the Dachshunds challenging physique. 

Take Your Time

Teaching your Dachshund to swim may be quick as a wink or be a more challenging process depending on your individual Doxie.

Be patient and give plenty of praise, and never hurry any steps that may make your Dachshund decide that swimming is not for them (we all know what happens when a Doxie makes up their mind.)

Always be vigilant and on hand when your Doxie is swimming and ensure that they don’t become overtired. Always ensure your Dachshund wears a safety vest when around the ocean as the sea is unpredictable and may be dangerous to your short-legged companion. 

What Are the Benefits of Swimming for a Dachshund?

Swimming with your Dachshund in summer is a great way to cool your dog down and can be a fantastic bonding experience. Swimming also provides a low-impact exercise that has many benefits for the Dachshund in particular. 

  • Swimming is excellent for weight loss without putting stress on the joints or your Dachshunds sensitive spine. In fact, swimming burns more calories due to resistance than walking, so it’s an excellent way for your Doxie to stay in shape.
  • Swimming strengthens muscles and improves your Doxies’ cardiovascular health. The swimming action strengthens the heart and lungs and enhances metabolism and good circulation.
  • Swimming is beneficial to dogs with injuries and back problems. Swimming aids in the recovery process by strengthening muscles, joints and promoting blood flow. The fact that your Dachshund does not have to bear weight on their spine during exercise allows them to exercise without compromising an injured spine.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to keep your Doxie in good shape, check out my articles on Dachshunds jumping here and safely taking your Dachshund on a run here.

Conclusion

Given the opportunity and patient care, your Dachshund will love nothing better than a summer splash. However, not all Dachshunds take to swimming and might need extra encouragement to have a good swim’s health benefits.

Either way, owners should ensure that they take their Dachshund’s physical limitations into account and keep them safe in watery spaces. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to your beloved companion and potential hazards. 

When dachshunds take to the water, they take to it with a passion. My Dachshund Emily needs a pool net in summer just because she believes that bed pillows are a great way to rub dry!

Here is a great video of someone’s scuba diving Dachshund:

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