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doctor ian kupkee holding his dachshund dog grendel


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Dogs and Swimming

Dogs and Swimming

A question I am often asked during the summer is whether or not all dogs instinctively know how to swim.  Many breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs are both physically built and genetically wired for swimming, while many other breeds do not fare nearly as well.  Dogs with deep chests, such as Boxers, Weimaraners, and Great Danes are naturally top heavy, and may or may not be strong enough to make up for this natural imbalance.  Brachycephalic, or “smushy-faced” breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers tend to be very poor swimmers and are common victims of drownings.  While some of these dogs may enjoy the water, my recommendation is to only allow swimming if the dog is wearing a life-vest, on a leash, and very closely supervised.

While Dachshunds are not generally a water-loving loving breed, our little Grendel is a skilled and enthusiastic swimmer! That being said, she has yet to figure out how to budget enough energy to return to shore before running out of energy. This is not an uncommon problem, so dog owners should be certain to teach their dogs how to reach the side of the pool and climb out unassisted. Consider installing a doggie pool ramp and teaching your dog where it is and how to use it.  Dogs that swim in natural bodies of water must be taught to return to you on command without exception.  Since Grendel will not do this consistently, she is only allowed to swim in the bay attached to a long, extendable leash.  As she ages, we are more inclined to add the life vest.  It is important to remember our dog’s changing physical abilities as each new summer rolls around.  Dogs that are elderly, blind, deaf, or prone to seizures must never be left unattended near any bodies of water or unfenced pools.

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