Can Chihuahuas Swim?

Chihuahuas are graceful dogs that don’t weigh more than 7 pounds. Since they are so petite, it makes one doubt their ability to swim. However, just like their big-dog attitude contradicts their appearance, so might their swimming abilities surprise you. Can Chihuahuas swim well?

Some dog breeds are built to be excellent swimmers; others are not so much.

Nonetheless, the doggy paddle is an instinct that almost all dogs own to help them survive in the wild.

Can Chihuahuas Swim?


The swimming instinct that comes forth in most dogs still does not verify whether Chihuahuas are good swimmers.

Yes, Chihuahuas can swim! Before testing your Chihuahua’s swimming skills by shoving him in the pool, first, understand what dangers are involved.

Instead of asking, can Chihuahuas swim, rather ask can Chihuahuas swim well enough to keep them out of trouble?

Here is an interesting guide to help you understand your Chihuahua’s compatibility with swimming.

How Well Can Chihuahuas Swim?


If your feisty little Chihuahua happens to fall into the pool, his natural ability to doggy paddle will kick in.

The benefit of them being so small is that their size can help keep them afloat. While this might be reassuring by the pool, it is not so much in the open waters.

They can easily float away because of their light weight.

Swimming is not for all dogs. Short-muzzled dogs, dogs with short legs, small hindquarters, and broad chests, and those who cannot stay afloat.

For instance, brachycephalic breeds with relatively broad, short skulls and “top-heavy” breeds don’t usually do well in water.

Fortunately, even though Chihuahuas are brachycephalic, they have a long enough nose that can be easily kept above water.

Their legs’ length gives them the ability to swim comfortably, while their small size helps them stay buoyant.

Yet, their ability to swim well enough on their own does not make them good swimmers.

They might struggle to keep their heads up as it is very large compared to the rest of their body.

Their large heads can put pressure on their necks to the degree that might tip them forward.

By building on your Chihuahuas’ natural swimming instinct, you can teach your dog to swim well enough, to ensure safety.

Can Chihuahuas Swim And Enjoy It At The Same Time?


Your Chihuahua’s ability to swim well on his own will most likely depend on his love for the water.

A Chihuahua shying away from the water’s edge, whether it’s at the beach or even bathtub, is not uncommon.

A Chihuahua needs practice to be a good swimmer, especially if he hates the water. Training Chihuahuas to swim can be challenging when they hate getting their paws wet.

Nevertheless, if they gradually learn to love the activity, there is hope!  You can have a fluffy swimming partner who is a decent swimmer.

The first encounter with water may frighten your little pup since water is different from solid ground. It’s cold and wet and therefore might not be very pleasant for your Chihuahua.

When submerged in the water, the feeling of having nothing to stand on can also be a scary ordeal.

The more opportunities your dog gets to experience the water, the better chance he will start loving it. Once you train your pooch to be comfortable in the water, swimming can become a great pastime activity.

Facts About Chihuahuas And Water


Since Chihuahuas are not naturally good swimmers, owners might feel that swimming as an activity is unnecessary for their Chihuahua.

While this might be true in some cases, in others, some water fun might be what your pup needs. By knowing some facts about Chihuahuas and water, you can make an informed decision.

  1. Swimming can benefit your Chihuahuas’ health – Water-based exercise can help improve your dog’s cardiovascular health and improve mobility. Water presents atmospheric resistance to your dog’s body, resulting in a more challenging workout.
  2. Swimming is good physical therapy – Hydrotherapy can help any dog, including Chihuahuas, if they are struggling with patellar luxation. Due to the atmospheric resistance, swimming allows a very gentle yet effective workout.
  3. Senior Chihuahuas can benefit from swimming – Swimming puts very little strain on joints, which can make it an excellent workout for older dogs. Even a walk in a shallow pool can do wonders for older dogs that experience adverse physical conditions.
  4. Chihuahua needs training to swim well – The Chihuahua is not a good swimmer from the get-go even though they have that natural doggy paddle instinct. Train your dog if you want your Chihuahua to learn to keep themselves afloat in the water.
  5. Chihuahuas are known as ‘water-shy’ – The Chihuahua is a breed least likely to love the water. Therefore a lot of patience is vital if you want to teach your dog to love the water.
  6. Chihuahua is a great size for swimming –  While a Chihuahua’s size can hold many hazards in the water, their sinking chances like pugs and bulldogs are minimal. Their lightweight will almost always keep them afloat.  
  7.  Chihuahuas might panic when they see water – as a Chihuahua dog owner, you are indeed well aware that these dogs are prone to anxiety. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that anxiety might kick in when your dogs lay eyes on the water.

Dangers During A Chihuahua Swimming Session


Planning ahead of time on how to approach dangerous situations if they occur is always good. Even though swimming can be a fun activity for your dog, there are still risks involved.

Here is what to keep in mind.

  •     Anxiety can put them at risk

If a Chihuahua is not handling stress well and trembling excessively, it can cause him to tip over in the water. This increases the risk of drowning.

Make sure to keep an eye on your dog in case a problem arises.

  • Exposure to chlorine tablets

While your dog’s likeliness of eating a chlorine tablet is low as it gives off a toxic smell, it can still happen. Better safe than sorry!

Instead, remove these tablets from the water before your pup gets in.

  • Pool chemicals can irritate your Chihuahua’s skin

Pool water containing a high chlorine concentration can irritate your dog’s skin and even give them stomach problems.

Dryness, irritation, itchiness, and inflammation can result from high chloride exposure to your Chihuahuas’ skin.

After a swim in a chlorinated pool, rinse off your Chihuahua with fresh water to eliminate the chemicals.

You might want to look into an alternative pool cleaner if you have dogs.

  •  The risk of water intoxication

Water intoxication results from consuming too much water at once, causing illness in humans or animals.

Heart failure, brain damage, or even death can result from water intoxication.

It is always important to closely watch your Chihuahua while swimming to make sure they are not drinking too much water.

  • Overexerted can occur

Chihuahuas should not be pushed as hard as large dogs, as it can result in overexertion. An extended swimming round can be harmful to your Chihuahua’s health.

There are signs that your dog has had enough swimming for one day.  Unusual hard panting or difficulty keeping his head up out of the water.

You might want to give your dog a break from pool activities for a couple of days if needed.

  • There may be bacteria in the water

Taking your dog to a lake can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

However, one should be aware that some water bodies can contain bacteria and algae, which can harm your little dog.

Giardiasis is an infection that you Chihuahua can obtain from drinking this water. Vomiting, fast weight loss, and lethargy are symptoms your pup is suffering from this disease.

  •  Saltwater can cause issues

If you are planning to take your Chihuahua to the beach, more supervision is needed.

Dogs that take in too much salt water will suffer from the same issues that water intoxication causes.

Watch you, Chihuahua, while swimming in salty water. While he is playing on the beach, make sure he doesn’t go for a salted water drink when thirsty.

Always have fresh water ready for them to drink.

  • Drowning risk

Even if you are confident in your Chihuahua’s swimming skills and ability to float, don’t leave your dog alone in the open waters.

A current can easily drag this little dog out to the ocean in a blink of an eye.

Take caution in pools as your Chihuahua might get splashed around harshly when someone jumps in the pool.

Your dog can drown if too much water splashes over its face, or they become submerged for a second.

  •   The risk of ‘dry drowning’

No matter how many precautions you take, be aware that “dry drowning” is always a risk.

It might not be easy to know how much water your dog ingested while he was swimming.

Lung infection, lung inflammation, and hypoxemia are all issues your dog may suffer a few days after swimming.

Therefore, it is important to note any unusual behavior even a few days after the swimming activity.

Tips For Introducing your Chihuahua To Swimming


  • The best time to teach your Chihuahua to swim is when he is just a puppy.
  • First, get your dog to be comfortable in the water before taking him to the pool. A bathtub filled with a little bit of water can help get the ball rolling.
  • A doggy-life vest is a good investment that could save your dog’s life, whether he is a beginner or a frequent swimmer.
  • Before introducing your Chihuahua to water, let him wear his life vest. A couple of minutes a day to get comfortable with the gear.
  • Slow and steady is the key! Never force the process. A little splash here, a paw in the water there will warm up to the thought of being wet.
  • Never push your pup into the water as it might create a water phobia for life. It is best to follow their lead with the training pace.
  • Start by playing with your Chihuahua near the pool or body of water. This will reassure them that it’s a fun and positive place to be.
  • Never start at the deep end. When your Chihuahua is ready to get in the water, put him in the shallow side where his feet can still touch the ground.
  • Make your Chihuahua feel safe while swimming for the first time by keeping your arm underneath your dog’s belly for support.
  • Praises and treats are useful tools to use to make their first experience in the water a positive one.
  • Use a toy to lead your dog’s way in the water, as this will encourage them to swim.
  • Take note of your Chihuahuas’ cues. When he seems to be getting too nervous, take them out of the water to avoid them having a negative swimming experience.
  • Build better trust with your dog by giving him a hand when he is trying to swim out.

Read Also: Chihuahua Breed With A Large Dog

Final Thought

To come back to your original query, “can Chihuahuas swim” the answer is definitely yes! While they might not be excellent swimmers from the start, a little training can go a long way.

Soon swimming will be an enjoyable activity for your dog. These smart dogs might not fit the swimming body profile, but they aren’t built for sinking either.

This makes their swimming abilities somewhere in between, so supervision is always a must when they are in the water.

Training your Chihuahua to swim is something that can be accomplished! It might take a lot of patience and frequent visits to the pool for some.

For others, it might be a smooth sail. Chihuahuas are breed lap dogs, so don’t worry if your little fluff refuses to make water his friend.

Some extra lap time can always make up for that missed water-bonding session.

Read Next: Can Chihuahuas Be Service Dogs