Can Poodles Swim? [Water Guide]

You want to do everything together when you love your dog. Dog owners with aquatically inclined dogs can enjoy hours of fun and entertainment with their furry friends. However, some dogs avoid water like the plague, even breeds bred for water and swimming.

While the individual dog and their personality play a substantial role in their attitude towards water, some dogs have been bred to go into the water to fetch, play, swim, and even race.

can poodles swim well

Do Poodles Like Water?

So, can Poodles swim, and do they like water? By and large, yes. Poodles are mainly thought of as intelligent show dogs today, but they were initially bred to fetch waterfowl while hunting. The name Poodle comes from the German word Pudelhund, which means “Puddle Dog.” They were working dogs who could swim out in large bodies of water to fetch waterfowl shot by the hunter.

Their coats don’t get wet quickly, thanks to their particular type of fur, and they have one coat of fur that dries quickly. Moreover, the tail bobs allowed hunters to easily spot the dogs in the water, while the hair around their chest and legs kept their organs and extremities nice and warm while swimming.

So, if you’ve been wondering, “Can Poodles swim?” the answer is: Yes, they can! And Poodles love water. They were made for it! They even have webbing between their toes to help them swim. While the breed is meant to get wet, that doesn’t mean all Poodles love jumping into the water. Each Poodle’s inclination toward water depends on past experiences.

But if your Poodle is nervous about swimming, you can take steps to help your furry friend swim. Remember not to push your dog too far too fast and give them a bad experience.

Training a Poodle (Or Any Dog) To Swim

Training a dog to swim is almost identical to teaching a human, with a couple of exceptions. That said, much like humans, you shouldn’t push your dog to do something it doesn’t want to do. If your dog is scared of the water, pushing them into it isn’t helpful.

Each dog goes through these steps at its own pace. Some might go through them in one minute, while others take months to acclimate. The most important thing is to ensure your dog is comfortable and happy throughout these steps so that they don’t associate water with bad experiences.

a poodle swimming
The Puddle Hound (Poodle) LOVES to swim.

Expose Your Poodle to Water

The first step to getting any dog used to swimming is to show them a body of water large enough to swim in. Swimming pools, lakes, slow-moving rivers, and even the ocean work great. You should be able to go up to the edge to let your dog get its feet wet if they want.

When you’re showing them a large body of water, they need to understand it’s not dangerous, which is what this step is for. They get used to the water and accept it as a part of their surroundings, prepping them for the next step.

Start in Shallow Water

The next step is to bring your Poodle to the water’s edge and let them test it. If your dog is nervous about this step, try wading in yourself to show your dog it’s safe. Once they understand the water won’t hurt them, they’ll try wading in.

If your Poodle enjoys the company of other dogs, this is a great learning opportunity. Bring in other dogs who love the water to play with your Poodle, and they’ll learn much faster than they would with just you. By mimicking the other dogs and associating the water with fun, your dog will get used to the water much faster.

black poodle at the beach
The curly black coat of a Poodle at the beach. Poodles LOVE water

Train Your Poodle To Swim

Now that your Poodle is used to getting their feet wet, it’s time to teach them how to swim! Swimming is an instinct for dogs, and Poodles are fabulous at it! You mostly just need to encourage them to get deeper into the water with treats.

While uncommon, there are incidents of dogs drowning. Your dog should know where and how they can get out of the water to prevent this. It may not be evident to a dog where they can get out of the water, like a beach or doggy ladder, so show them.

Once your dog understands where they can get out, they’ll be much more comfortable in the water.

Another essential safety tip is to teach children how dogs behave in the water. The swimming motion is instinctual for dogs, but the action can scratch children, or adults, who aren’t paying attention. Teach children to be cautious when playing with dogs in water.

Safety Tips

Dogs, much like children, should never be left unsupervised in the water. Accidents happen, and they may need your help to get out or save them if they suddenly sink.

If you’re concerned about your Poodle’s safety, it may be prudent to get a life vest. A doggy life vest will keep dogs afloat and upright in the water, saving them in case of an accident and helping them swim.

Grooming After Swimming

Poodles have luscious fur coats that are very different from other dog breeds. However, the drawback of their luxurious coat is that it requires a lot of grooming and upkeep. It’s more like hair than fur, which is part of what makes them allergy-friendly.

Grooming after swimming is essential for Poodles, as their fur tangles easily, and their curly nature catches dirt and debris from the water. If you take your Poodle to swim in the ocean, grooming is doubly essential.

Rinse your Poodle’s coat to get all of the dirt and debris out. Brush their fur to prevent tangles once you’ve ensured the skin is free of dirt. If you take your dog to swim in the ocean, you should bathe them with a gentle shampoo to remove all the salt.

The only thing you should beware of when grooming your dog is not to give them too many baths. Shampoo and soap rid the fur of essential oils needed for a healthy coat. The same principle applies to chlorine pools.

If your Poodle often swims in a chlorinated pool, you should invest in a leave-in dog conditioner and feed them fatty acids to replenish the oils in their coat.

Poodles Risk Ear Infections

Any veteran dog owners know that ear infections are a risk for dogs who like to get wet, especially those with floppy ears.

This puts Poodles in the high-risk zone for ear infections, doubly so if they love to swim. However, you can reduce this risk by cleaning out their ears after a swim and ensuring the ear canal is free of dirt and debris.

Patting their ears with a towel to get rid of the dampness after a swim is usually all they need. But if your Poodle is a prolific swimmer, you’ll want to take a washrag and gently clean their ears once a week.

Otherwise, know the signs of ear infections, such as redness, pawing at the ears, and whining, and take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect an ear infection has taken root.

Poodles and Chlorine Pools

Poodles can swim in chlorine just like humans, and getting it in their fur or on their skin is no big deal. But they should not drink chlorine, nor from swimming pools in general. You should always have a bowl of safe drinking water nearby and teach your dog to drink from that.

Moreover, dogs should never be able to get to pool chemicals and supplies, such as chlorine tablets. Pool supplies should be safely stored away in a locked cabinet to prevent access from both Poodles and children.

If you’re concerned about your dog ingesting too much chlorine, it may be prudent to switch to a mineral filtration system or use a pet-safe chemical like bromine.

Also noteworthy is that dogs cannot use human ladders. You’ll either need steps, a gentle incline, or a doggy ladder for your pet to enter and exit a pool safely.

Miniature and Toy Poodles

Everything in the sections above also applies to Miniature and Toy Poodles. They’re descended from water retrievers built for the water and can love swimming and water as much as their larger cousins.

However, these smaller breeds tend to lead more pampered lives than the larger Standard Poodles, which may make them more apprehensive of the water. So, it may take them more time to get used to the water.

Their safety is also a concern as they are much smaller and run out of energy faster than the larger Poodle breeds, so you should keep a careful eye on them when they’re swimming and take them out before they get too tired.

Let Your Poodle Get Wet!

So, can Poodles swim? Yes, they can! Poodles are made for the water, and most don’t take more than a minute to jump right in. However, every dog is different, and taking the time to go through the steps of teaching your dog to swim can lead to many memorable and enjoyable memories with your best friend.

You don’t even need to teach your Poodle to swim to enjoy the water. You can just fill up a kiddie pool, turn on the sprinkler, or just spray the hose at them to play with your Poodle and let them enjoy their water-bound nature.

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