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Can Dachshunds Swim? – 5 Tips To Get Your Dachshund to Swim

Dachshunds can swim, but it doesn't mean that they enjoy swimming.
Written by Richard Jeng

If you’re desperate to know if dachshunds can swim or need an explanation as to why your dachshund doesn’t seem to like water, you’ve found the right place! Continue reading to discover all there is to know about dachshunds in the water. So, can Dachshunds swim? Are they good at swimming?

Dachshunds can swim! There are lots of dachshunds out there that absolutely love being in the water. There are, obviously, many that don’t. Their long body and short legs don’t make them the strongest swimmers and most much prefer dry land.

That’s the short answer! I’ll be discussing how to introduce your dog safely to the water so that you can be less wary around open water!

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The Dachshund Overview

The dachshund is a dog originating from Germany. There is evidence that dachshunds were around as far back as the 15th century. Its name in German means ‘badger dog.’ In the English-speaking world, you’ll also hear the names wiener dogs and sausage dogs.

Breeders developed this dog over many centuries. These dogs were bred to track and chase badgers among other animals that live in burrows. Its miniature relative was bred to hunt even smaller burrow dwellers.

Why Dachshunds Aren’t Good Swimmers

The biggest reason why dachshunds don't like swimming is because their body wasn't built for it.

Dachshunds were bred for badger hunting and so all of their characteristics and predispositions have been tailored to this. That’s why many say that Dachshunds aren’t great in water – they didn’t really have to be when chasing badgers so this characteristic wasn’t bred into them.

There are three types of dachshund: shorthaired (smooth), longhaired, or wirehaired. In the USA, Dachshunds are either standard size or miniature.

A Dachshund is miniature if it weighs 11 lbs or under. A standard usually weighs above 16lbs. In between these weights, a dachshund is a ‘tweenie.’ No matter which size variation, all of them tend to prefer land over water.

As far as personality traits go, these dogs are playful and intelligent. They’re not shy and are usually very courageous – but not always when it comes to water. They can be stubborn and mischievous too, which may make it even more difficult to get them in the water.

Will Your Dachshund Swim?

Realistically, it’s not often you see a dachshund head straight for the water and jump in! This is a trait more present in Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Water Spaniels.

Of course, you will get the odd dachshund who takes to water like… well, a duck to water(!), but this isn’t typical. It’s more likely that you will have a dachshund that needs persuading to go into water.

They don’t really like the water as their build makes it quite difficult to be really efficient swimmers. Their role (for which they were bred) didn’t require them to be good in water.

When a dog goes into water, it will naturally kick its legs as if running in order not to go below the surface. For most dogs, this propels them forward into a ‘swimming’ motion. Other dogs simply tread water and aren’t great at moving forwards.

Your dachshund might fall into either category, but even if he can swim, he might tire easily. This is because of their short legs using up a lot of energy when they swim.

If you have a dachshund and you’re wondering whether or not he or she can swim, the only way to find out is to expose him or her to water and see what happens. Do this carefully! It goes without saying that you shouldn’t just throw your dog into deep water to see if they can swim!

Training Dachshunds to Swim – a step by step approach

Here are 5 tips for a step by step approach to getting your Dachshund to swim.

If you want your dachshund to be a good swimmer for whatever reason, you should do this in a step-by-step manner. There are many ways to get this done, however, this is what I’ve had success with.

Always remember to have some patience when training your Dachshund to swim. You never want to stress them out with something they don’t want to do. 

1. Exposing Your Dachshund to Water

Starting is really easy. It’s better if you begin this process when your dog is a puppy as dachshunds are incredibly difficult to train as adults (though not impossible).

The first step is to take your Dachshund to wherever there’s water. If you have a beach, lake, or river close by, take walks near to (but not in!) the water. You want to be close enough to the water for your dog to be able to wet their paws and hear and see the water.

There is no need to rush this point. Daily water exposure without risk is the best way to ensure your dog learns how to be confident in water. Just let your dog know that the water is there and that it is nothing to be feared.

When you feel as though your Dachshund is ready, try to convince him or her to paddle and get their paws wet.

2. Shallow First

If your dog has been touching water with his paws or paddling at the side of a lake or river for a while and doesn’t seem afraid, you can move on to the next step.

The next step involves exposure to shallow water. It would be awful for your dog to miss this crucial step and suddenly end up in deep water without being able to feel the ground.

Make sure the water is shallow enough for your dachshund to touch the floor while wading. Make sure there aren’t any currents that could make it harder for your dog to move freely in the water or which could make him scared.

With gentle repetition of this step over time, your Dachshund will begin to develop a love (or at least a tolerance) for water while he is able to keep his feet securely on the ground.

3. Get In With Your Dachshund!

Since the next step involves going deeper and seeing your dachshund’s real swimming ability for the first time, it is a good idea for you to be in there with him. 

There are actually many places that offer swimming lessons for dogs so this might be something you could look for. Otherwise, head to a calm lake or calm sea and get into the water yourself.

Seeing you in the water will help your dog to feel confident and reassured. With you going deeper, they are more likely to come out into the open water towards you.

For extra reassurance, you may want to consider a dog life jacket. I’d highly recommend the Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket. It’s made with a quick-dry, breathable mesh and neoprene fabrics for the perfect amount of buoyancy! It’s lightweight, ultra-flexible and recommended by so many dog owners.You’ll want to get an extra-small for a Dachshund. However, please use their sizing chart for confirmation. 

Unless you have nerves of steel (or a really good wetsuit and dog life jacket!), it’s best to wait until the warmer summer months before trying out this step. If it’s coming up the end of the summer season when you’re reading this, don’t be tempted to skip the previous steps to get to this point.

4. Training Like Any Other

You will be used to training your dog, particularly if your dog is still young. Consider teaching your dog to swim as something you need to train him to do like anything else. Calmness, patience, and love are all things that your dog will need to see in order to do what you would like him to do.

Praising your dog is essential. Dogs love praise! If you normally reward your dog with fuss and a treat, do this even in the water! Just make sure you keep those delicious treats dry in a plastic bag!

For really water-shy dogs, try a watery get together with some other dog friends who love swimming. This might entice your dachshund to go into the water to play too.

5. Give Your Dachshund Some Time

When it comes to getting your dog to love water and swim well, it takes time. Every dog is different. While some dogs, even dachshunds, might dive straight in and love swimming, most will be at least a little bit wary.

Time and patience are important. You wouldn’t expect a child to swim straight away, so don’t expect your dog to either (although dogs do tend to learn much quicker than children).

As sad as this topic is, dogs do drown. Taking a slow, step-by-step approach will ensure your dog is safe and secure at all times. Having short legs means that dachshunds tire easily. When a dog gets tired in water, it could sink and drown.

I always recommend anyone with a dachshund to purchase a dog life vest. That way, if the dog does get too tired to swim, they will still be able to float and avoid drowning.

Always keep a watchful eye on your dog while he is swimming. If he looks tired, remove him from the water. It’s best you stay close by your Dachshund in the early phases of learning.

If training your dachshund to love water is not going well, take a break. You can always try again in a few weeks or months. Realistically, it doesn’t really matter if your dog likes water or not. You will always love them, and they will love you, regardless.

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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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