Dog Breeds Dog Training

Can Beagles Swim? – A Guide to Swimming with Beagles

Here's why Beagles can swim well.
Written by Richard Jeng

It’s a hot summer day. What better way for you and your Beagle to cool off and get some exercise in than with a swim? Although swimming is a great activity for active breeds that love being outdoors, not all dogs are suitable for swimming.

So, can Beagles swim? Beagles, like most dogs, can swim. But Beagles typically do not enjoy swimming, at least in the beginning. In fact, some don’t even like being in water. So if you want to swim with your Beagle, start young, introduce them gradually and never force them into the water.

Don’t feel discouraged. Like humans, Beagles have individual personalities. While we’ve seen Beagles dislike water, that’s not the case for all. The only way to tell for sure is to try it out. Continue reading for our guide to swimming with Beagles.

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Why Beagles Can Be Good Swimmers

Whether your Beagle actually enjoys swimming or not, they were built to be exceptional swimmers. These dogs possess many qualities that make them skilled hunting dogs, but also highly capable swimmers.

Active Dog Breed

With a background in hunting, Beagles were developed to be active dogs. While Beagles were primarily used as scent hounds, they needed the stamina to keep up on long hunting trips with their humans.

Sometimes the scent trail of an animal can go for miles long. So, it was necessary for these dogs to be able to keep up for the full duration – or they risk the animal getting away. But due to the stubbornness nature of Beagles, they don’t easily give up.

I couldn’t believe how much high energy was coming out of my beagle. It can be really overwhelming. Use this time to train, train, train as it will pay off later.

– Cassie (Beagle Owner)

When we say Beagles are active dogs, we’re not just making this up. According to the AKC, Beagles are one of the 15 most active dog breeds – of all sizes! They’re on the same list as German Shepherds, Corgis and Border Collies.

Typically known for having a calm demeanor, Beagles are most active when they’re playing or working. It’s worth noting that the high energy usually tappers off after some years. A number of owners report they mellow out around 3 to 4 years old.

Beagle’s Adventurous Personality

Beagles are not timid dogs, by any means. In fact, they can have a somewhat adventurous and bold personality. Largely thanks to their amazing noses, Beagles are often described as inquisitive dogs.

The naturally curious mindset of the Beagle makes them ideal candidates for trying new activities, such as swimming. While many other small dog breeds may shy away from the intimidating body of water, Beagles are always ready for new experiences.

What better way to meet their adventurous desire than to go for swim at the nearest lake? With the proper training and equipment, these dogs will have no problems learning to swim. At least, there won’t be any mental barriers.

Learning in Packs

Dogs are excellent at learning from one another. They’re smart enough to model each other’s behaviors including activities, habits and tendencies.

We call this allelomimetic behaviors, which refers to the dog’s natural tendency to want to be with other dogs and follow their lead. It’s why puppies want to play with all dogs. From an early age, puppies will try to imitate their “seniors.”

While this type of behavior is seen in all dog breeds, it is especially true with Beagles. Since these dogs were bred for hunting in packs, they’re typical pack-dogs that prefer the extra canine companionship.

That being said, Beagles are historically more inclined to learn from one another because of their pack dog mentality. In other words, they can have an advantage while learning to swim, that is, if you go with a dog that already knows how to swim.

Not only can the seasoned canine-swimmer provide a boast of confidence, but also show your Beagle that swimming is fun! With other dogs, your Beagle should be swimming with joy in no time.

Teaching Beagles to Swim

For all the reasons we mentioned, teaching a Beagle how to swim won’t be an incredibly hard task. Of course, all individual Beagles are different and the training times can vary.

Some will be natural swimmers and others will take more patience. Some will love being in water, and some will hate it. But no matter which your Beagle is, there are best practices to swim-training a dog.

Life Jacket for Beagles

Before letting your Beagle swim, it’s important you have the necessary equipment. Not only do life jackets provide your Beagle with extra confidence, but also you (the owner) with peace of mind.

It’s not too expensive, but can be the key to help your Beagle break through that mental barrier. In fact, the AKC recommends that you use a life jacket, especially for dog breeds that weren’t bred for a purpose in water – such as Beagles.

The only one we recommend is the Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket. It’s the only one we have experience with and thousands of owners will agree. We purchased this for both our Aussie and Corgi, and it is perfect so far.

Most Beagles will fit a medium. However, these hounds have been known to vary in size. So, make sure to check the sizing chart before you purchase.

What I like the most about the Outward Hound life jacket is the design and build. If you pick one up, it’s obvious that it’s made using high quality material with comfort in mind. It also has a rescue handle that makes emergency situations less scary.

Introducing Beagles to Water

The initial introduction of water is probably the most important step in teaching your dog how to swim. But while many dog breeds are extra timid and frightened of bodies of water, a Beagle’s inquisitive nature will make them more willing dogs.

Solo loves to swim. He ran right in the first time he seen water, like he was supposed to live in it. We had to swim out and get him in the middle of a lake up north once.

– Lad85 (Beagle Owner)

Needless to say, don’t throw your first-time Beagle into the deep end and expect the dog to start swimming. Beagles like Solo aren’t very typical. After all, they aren’t Poodles or some other water retriever.

Instead, you’ll want to slowly introduce the dog to more and more water. For example, you might want to start off with a kiddie pool or bath tub of water. It’s a great way to get their feet wet, literally.

After consistent interactions with small bodies of water, the next step is to bring your Beagle to the place where he or she will be swimming. If it’s a lake, take them for walks around the lake. Have your Beagle sniff the water, which they’re gladly do.

It’s Time to Swim!

After weeks of introducing your Beagle to water, the day has finally come – it’s time to swim! If you’re going to a lake, make sure the weather is right and the lake is calm.

The first step is to show your Beagle how to enter and exit the body of water. For instance, if you’re swimming in a pool, show the dog where the steps to enter and exit the pool are.

Don’t force your Beagle into the shallow end. It’s best if you can get them to go in on their own terms. To make this work, I recommend bringing plenty of delicious treats and their favorite toys. Try to bribe them into the water.

We tried for at least 20 minutes encouraging our beagle into the pool. In the end, all it took was a Greenie. I’m convinced he loves those treats more than me sometimes.

– Alan L. (Beagle Owner)

Make sure to be consistently giving positive praises and encouragement throughout this process. And according to Outside, the best way is to give praises from inside the water. If they know you’re fine, they’re more likely to join.

Again, you don’t want to force your Beagle into the water. If your dog doesn’t get in that day, then it probably wasn’t meant to be. Go back to the introduction period and try again some other time. Just remain patient with the process.

Swimming in Packs

If you’re having trouble getting your dog into the water, consider bringing a familiar dog that already knows and enjoys swimming. As we mentioned, Beagles are pack dogs, so they’re much better at learning from other dogs.

This pack-friend can be your other dog at home or just a friendly neighbor dog. However, you’ll want to make sure your dog establishes a good relationship with the friend you’re bringing to swim. It’s better if your Beagle “trusts” the other dog.

Of course, this is not necessarily at all. But it’s a great way if you’re having trouble getting the dog into the water with the steps above.

“Swimmer’s Ears” in Beagles

After going for a swim, it’s extremely important you clean the ears of your Beagle. Like with humans, dogs can also develop ear infections after accumulating water in the ear.

Beagles are more susceptible to water accumulation thanks to their long floppy ears. The ears will fold over the Beagle’s ear canal, which does a great job retaining moisture. This is also why humidity isn’t great for these dogs.

In addition, the ears of dogs are developed in an L-shaped structure, which actually makes it even more difficult to free up residual trapped water.

Veterinarians sometimes joke that if floppy-eared dogs could have their ears pinned to the top of their heads, we could prevent quite a few ear infections…

– Annie Li, DVM (PHS)

As you can imagine, this moist environment created by the floppy ears and L-shaped ear structure isn’t ideal. This makes it easier to for bacteria and yeast to thrive. In many cases, this will lead to an ear infection (otitis externa).

Annie continues by saying that where your dog swims doesn’t matter. Whether you take the Beagle to the beach, lake or chlorinated pool, the moisture is what makes the ears such an ideal environment for bacteria growth.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to keep in check. For cleaning, we recommend using an ear cleanser made specifically for pets, such as the VetWell Ear Cleaner. You can wipe off with some gauze or cotton after.

Make sure you never use q-tips with your Beagle’s ears. As mentioned, the structure of a dog’s ears is different than that of a human’s. So, you would be risking rupturing the ear drum or membrane of the dog.

Benefits of Swimming

A guide to what beagles were originally bred to do.

There are plenty of great benefits to letting your Beagle swim. As a matter of fact, these benefits can help both the dog and the owner.

Mental & Physical Stimulation

The main reason you should let your dog swim is because it’s one of the best ways to tire a dog out. Beagles need at least 1 hour of exercise a day. But because swimming is a high-energy activity, you may need less.

When a Beagle doesn’t get enough physical and mental stimulation, they can take it out on your couch or even shoes. They have all this pent-up energy that needs to be released on a daily basis.

Without interesting activities, a Beagle may become bored or restless. Remember, these dogs have a lot of curiosity, so you’ll need to stimulate their minds too. What better way to challenge their minds than to teach them to swim?

Better for Joints

Thanks to gravity, moving in water is easier on the joints than moving on land. Obviously, dogs are the same. And according PetMD, one of the biggest advantages of swimming is the potential for weight loss.

So while swimming provides great support for your Beagle’s joints in the short term, it can also provide long-lasting advantages in the long term.

By swimming with your Beagle, you’re able to help them develop the necessary muscles they need. But at the same time, you build strength without causing further damage to the joints. It’s a no-brainer activity!

Cooling Down

Beagles have double coats that help regulate their body temperature based on the season of the year. In other words, they grow out a lighter summer coat for the heat and a thicker winter coat for the cold.

However, sometimes this may not be enough, especially if you live in regions with extreme climate during the summer days. You should also know that dogs can’t sweat from areas of the body covered by fur, making it very difficult to cool down.

But that doesn’t mean you should keep your Beagle inside all day with the air conditioning. Like we mentioned, exercise is key to good health. So, swimming is the perfect solution to cool down and get the necessary daily exercise in.


So, can your Beagle swim? Let us know in the comments section below. And if we’d missed any tips that helped your dog learn to swim, we’d love to hear from you too!

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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