Why Can’t French Bulldogs Swim?

There are a lot of things that French Bulldogs can do, but swimming unassisted is unfortunately not one of them. Have you ever asked yourself: why can’t French Bulldogs swim?

French Bulldogs can’t swim without some form of help because of their head and body shape. They have flat faces that make it almost impossible for them to keep their airways clear in the water and their dense, muscular bodies give them very little buoyancy. Most Frenchies will sink without some kind of floatation device, and they can’t keep their heads above water easily by themselves.

That’s not to say that a Frenchie can never be in the water, though, as most absolutely love a good splash around. Read ahead in this article to find out why your French Bulldog can’t swim on its own, and how you might get them to enjoy the water safely!

why cant french bulldogs swim?

Is It Safe For a French Bulldog To Swim?

The main concern for any owner is always the safety and wellbeing of their pup. If you’ve got a French Bulldog then you already know that they need a close and watchful eye on them nearly all of the time, but it’s particularly important when there’s water around.

It is not safe for a French Bulldog to swim without a life jacket, and you should never leave them unattended around water that is too deep for them to stand up in.

Frenchies cannot swim safely at all, even those that are more energetic and athletic. Puppies are at particularly high risk because they are less likely to recognize the potential dangers of deep water.

What Stops French Bulldogs from Swimming?

Most dog breeds can swim very well, and even those that find it challenging are usually safe for short periods, so what is different about French Bulldogs?

Well, it’s all because of their unique little shape. What makes them so adorable and loveable is their stocky bodies and their cute little muzzles, but these are both significant downsides when it comes to being in the water. French Bulldogs can’t swim because they have:

  • High muscle-to-fat ratio: their bodies are very dense and they are mostly muscle, meaning they will sink like a stone without a floatation aid.
  • Short legs: Their stocky shape and short legs mean that they can’t doggy paddle strongly enough to keep themselves afloat and counteract their own weight in the water.
  • Flat faces: Even if they can work hard enough to stop themselves from sinking, their flat faces mean that they can’t breathe at the surface, and water will start to fill their mouths and noses very quickly.

With that being said, there are ways for Frenchies to enjoy the water safely, and even ways to get them swimming – you just need to be careful and provide them with the right assistance.

Do French Bulldogs Like Water?

Oddly enough, most French Bulldogs absolutely love water and getting themselves wet, which does pose a bit of a challenge for you as an owner. You want them to have fun, but you need them to stay safe as well!

You can always let your Frenchie play in shallow water (that is no higher than their chest) or use a hose to spray them down. A kiddie pool is a great way for your pup to cool down on a hot day, and most French Bulldogs get endless entertainment from splashing around in one.

Even with shallow water, though, you should never leave your Frenchie unattended. There’s always a chance that something could happen, and it’s not a risk worth taking.

How Can You Get A Frenchie Swimming?

If you really want to give your Frenchie a chance to enjoy some water that is deeper than chest height, there are ways to help them out. You definitely still need to be incredibly careful and keep an eye on them at all times, but with the right support your dog can be doggy-paddling away in no time.

Life Jackets

First and foremost: your Frenchie should never be in the water without a life jacket on. Because they can’t float by themselves, a buoyancy aid is essential in any water that they can’t stand up in.

Fortunately, you can easily get your hands on safe, comfortable life jackets made specifically for adventurous Frenchies. One thing you’ll notice straight away is that they do look a bit different from a human life jacket – they’re almost like floating carry bags!

Frenchie life jackets have a little handle on the back, which allows you to give your dog as much assistance as they need while they’re in the water. You will want to shop around to find a jacket that is the right size for your dog and is as comfortable as possible.

When you’re looking at life jackets, make sure to consider:

  • Buoyancy: not all life jackets give the same amount of buoyancy. Some are designed for lighter dogs or are more for visibility than floatation. You want a life jacket that has buoyant foam as well as waterproof webbing, so that your Frenchie’s face will always be above water.
  • Size: Weigh and measure your dog before shopping! It is essential that the jacket fits comfortably, and won’t slip around their neck, waist, or chest. Check the reviews to see what kind of dogs a life jacket seems to fit best.
  • Adjustability: No matter what size you opt for, you will need to be able to adjust your dog’s life jacket to fit them specifically. Look for good adjustability around the neck and belly, so that your dog will be snug and safe.
  • Durability: A rip or tear on safety equipment can be really dangerous, so you definitely want a well-made life jacket that uses high-quality materials.

Stay With Them

No matter how comfortable or happy your dog seems in their life jacket, you never want to leave them on their own. Unexpected things can happen, and you need to be there in case they do. Besides, your dog is going to have much more fun if you’re there to enjoy it with them!

Calm Water

Even with a life jacket on, your French Bulldog is likely to struggle in even slightly choppy water. Any waves or splashes can hinder their breathing and make it much more difficult for them to move around. A contained, private pool is the right place to give your dog some swimming lessons, particularly while they are still learning.

Teach Them Safely

Very few Frenchies are natural swimmers, so you will need to give your dog some nice, safe lessons. Take things slowly and use the handle on their jacket to give them some extra support while they get the hang of kicking with their legs.

To start with, keep their swimming sessions very short and preferably in shallow water. Stay close by them and keep calm and relaxed while they’re swimming, encouraging them with gentle praise. You can give them lots of love and treats when they get out and it’s safe for them to snack and show some excitement.

Recap: Why Can’t French Bulldogs Swim?

So, why can’t French Bulldogs swim? It’s because they have dense, stocky bodies that don’t naturally float, and their flat faces mean they can’t keep their airways clear of water at the surface.

Fortunately, you can get your Frenchie happily and safely enjoying a paddle with the right support. They will need a well-fitted life jacket, some safe instruction, and constant supervision. French Bulldogs can also have a great time in shallow water, like a kiddie pool, though you should still keep an eye on them just to be safe.

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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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