Can French Bulldogs Swim?


Can Frenchies swim, unfortunately not due to their deep chest, short hind legs, squashed up nose and being a brachycephalic breed, this is a big no.

Although dogs are like humans, some take to the water more gracefully, and naturally, I still would keep my Frenchie safe and secure away from water.

I’ve heard stories of poor Frenchies trying to swim and coming unstuck and sinking. I’m going to go through some safety alternatives and share some research on brachycephalic breeds.

Wet french bulldog

How to help your french bulldog swim?

Really, with all the challenges with french bulldogs respiratory, deep chest shape and small hind legs they need all the help they can get and from my personal experience I keep my Frenchie as far away from water as possible.

But if your Frenchie loves water which some do and like going for a dip or a paddle then I would definitely get some safety measures in place.

Dog life jacket

You can do this by getting a dog life jacket. These are great not only do they keep your dogs head above water it keeps them safe if they come unstuck and need a rest especially if they’re a Frenchie not designed to swim.

There are some superb dog life jackets on the market now a quality one will be made from a durable material, waterproof and adjustable to get a snug fit on your dog.

One of these will answer the question can french bulldogs swim and yes with one of these but I must also add as long as there is supervision and watching your dog at all times.

When using a dog life jacket you may need to give them a helping hand on how to swim and get used to it, also make sure that it’s a tight fit you don’t want it falling off and your dog coming unstuck.

To help your dog get used to the jacket and gaining confidence I would recommend swimming alongside your pooch and give them a bit of support if need be. Most of these dog life jackets will have a handle on top which can come in very useful if they come unstuck or go a bit off course.

Can french bulldogs swim in a paddling pool?

Yes, most definitely being a brachycephalic breed Frenchies find it hard to cool down due to the restriction on painting and using a kids paddling pool is a great option for your Frenchie I have one for buster in the garden and it’s a great summer addition he loves it.

I may add you do still need to keep a visual eye out, better to be safe than sorry. Also, we have used the kid’s pool with buster the that’s few summers which has been great apart from you cant transport it and this is something we wanted to do when we go out in the summer for our family holidays and camping we wanted to use a paddling pool for buster so we’ve found a great transportable, foldable one which has been brilliant.

Brachycephalic Breeds

French Bulldogs come under the brachycephalic breed which really in a nutshell is a dog that is not designed for water. Brachycephalic breeds have poor respiratory systems from their short muzzles and squashed up noses.

Brachycephalic breeds included the popular pugs, all bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boston terriers, boxer dogs and Pekingese.

Most of these dogs have a deep chest and short legs apart from the boxer, which all hinders them from being natural athletic swimmers.

These breeds have been bred this way over the years with a short muzzle, usually lower jaw and a compressed upper. Despite having these respiratory problems all of these breeds tend to do fine and I think adds to their super character.  

That being said Brachycephalic breeds can suffer from Brachycephalic respiratory syndrome this starts from their nostrils which are usually small and tight which prevents the air from traveling through the airways freely, hence all the snorting and grunting. 

Also, what does not help the matter is that the windpipe on these breeds is usually very narrow so this actually affects the way these dogs pant which can sound quite strained and stressed sometimes.

With the panting being a bit strained you have to watch out for heatstroke because dogs don’t sweat. They pant to cool down, so important to plan traveling and car journeys as the brachycephalic breeds may struggle more than others.

It’s important to know your brachycephalic pets’ sounds there snorts and grunting if there’s a change in sound or struggle this could be the respiratory syndrome progressing which can lead to significant distress. If you notice any change get to the vets for a check-up as soon as possible.

So with all the issues regarding these brachy breeds it means, unfortunately, they are not built for swimming. That being said, with all the problems most will live a happy life with the extra knowledge owners have to know these dogs are some of the most popular around, with their great character and energy they make great pets just not good swimmers.

Final Thoughts

So really swimming for Frenchies is a no but if you put in some safety measures in place and get some equipment then why not. It’s fun for both parties, humans and dogs and can bring your bond with your canine that bit stronger.

When using a paddling pool and swimming with a dog life jacket on you must always keep a close eye on what they’re doing. Treat them like a little toddler, Frenchies may be small but from my experience there are brave little characters.

And also just watch out for the aftermath of the wet dog shake ritual, it happens every time with a bust, stand back if you don’t want a spraying. 

Dan James

Dan James is the founder and editor of FrenchBulldogio, a canine enthusiast who writes about what he's learned on the way of being a French Bulldog owner and sharing his advice, tips, and research.

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