Dachshunds are small and energetic dogs that often can’t stand extreme heat. What better way to cool off than to go for a swim, right? No, not so fast. Before you let your Dachshund swim, there are things that all owners need to consider.
So, can Dachshunds swim? Yes, Dachshunds can swim! However, their long body and short legs don’t make them the strongest swimmers and most much prefer dry land. In other words, Doxies are not the best swimmers and may take more swim to learn to swim efficiently.
So that’s the short answer! Dachshunds can swim but there are many challenges for them. In this article i’ll be discussing how to safely introduce your Doxie to the water so that they can be less wary in and around open water!
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Table of Contents
- Why Dachshunds Aren’t Good Swimmers
- Training Dachshunds to Swim
Why Dachshunds Aren’t Good Swimmers
Dachshunds are not the best swimmers. But make no mistake – we’re not saying they’re completely incapable of swimming. It’s just that there are things that hold them back from being as efficient as a Poodle of Retriever while in water.
For starters, Dachshunds were bred for badger hunting. As a result, all of their characteristics have been tailored to this. Badgers live on land and burrow beneath the soil. So, there’s really no purpose in breeding swimming-qualities into these dogs.
That’s why many say that Doxies aren’t great in water. This breed did not really have to be in water (or anywhere close) when chasing badgers – so this characteristic wasn’t bred into them. But even so, a Dachshund can be trained to swim.
Short, Stubby Legs
Dachshunds are known for their short and stubby legs. This is called dwarfism in dogs, according to the National Institutes of Health. And as you can imagine, short legs are not the most ideal to help the dog propel through the water.
But just because a dog breed has short legs doesn’t mean they’re automatically bad at swimming. For instance, the Welsh Corgi also has short legs. However, thanks to their powerful thighs, they’re able to put enough power into those legs.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with Dachshunds. Their short legs, combined with a smaller thigh, gives them a clear disadvantage when in the water. So next time your Doxie seems to be struggling in water, don’t over-work them. Give them a breather.
Dachshund’s Long Bodies
Similar to the Welsh Corgis, Dachshunds are known for their long bodies. They’re infamously called the “hot dog” or wiener dog for a reason. Their bodies are elongated and disproportionate to the legs that are already unusually short.
But how does a long body affect the Dachshund’s swimming ability? When the long body is combined with short legs, the dog is lower to the ground. In water, the dog is closer to the water as well. This means they’ll need to always keep their head upwards, making it difficult to swim.
According to Psychology Today, Dachshunds are not the only ones that struggle with this due to the odd elongated shape of their bodies. For example, the Basset Hound, Welsh Corgis, Lancashire and Dachsbracke all suffer from this.
When you think of the canine kingdom’s best swimmers, such as the Golden Retriever, Poodle or the Lab – they all have similar qualities. That is, they’re all big dogs with long legs and a proportionate body. Unfortunately, one can say that Dachshunds are the exact opposite.
Dachshund Variations & Swimming
Believe it or not – there are three types of dachshund, including the shorthaired (smooth), longhaired, and wirehaired. In the USA, Dachshunds have two sizes too, either coming in the standard size or a miniature. But does this matter for swimming?
No matter which size variation or coat type, all of them tend to prefer land over water. The main and signature qualities (short legs and long bodies) won’t change no matter which purebred Doxie you bring home. And it’s these qualities that hinder them.
For reference: a Dachshund is miniature if it weighs 11 lbs or under. The standard will usually weigh above 16 pounds. In between these weights, a dachshund is what we called a “tweenie.” There is no evidence to suggest that one size swims better than another.
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. Most of the time, tend to be very cautious when first exploring bodies of water.
Like humans, each dog has their own personality. Of course, you will get the “odd” Dachshund who’ll love water like… well, a duck! Just know that this is not typical. It’s more than likely that you will have a Dachshund that needs persuading to go into water.
My Dachshund loves the water. She needs to wear a life jacket on the boat b/c she will jump overboard if she sees a bird, even if the boat is moving!– Pinkme (Chrono of Horse)
When a dog goes into water, the dog will naturally kick its legs as if he or she is running in order not to go below the surface. For most dogs, this propels them forward into a “swimming” motion. But there are dogs that simply tread water and aren’t great at moving forward.
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. The shorter the leg, the more frequent they may need to kick to stay afloat.
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!
Training Dachshunds 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 in our Australian Shepherd and Corgi (also with similar features).
Before you start, 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. And if they’re not feeling it, you can try again another day.
1. Exposing Your Dachshund to Water
Starting is really easy. Plus, it’s better if you begin this process when your Dachshund is a puppy as a Doxie can be incredibly difficult to train as adults (though not impossible). They’re stubborn dogs and less courageous in trying new things.
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 that 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. Make sure to give positive praises (and possibly treats) if they make it this far. Also, it may be a good idea for you to splash the water with them.
2. Shallow End 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 is a big leap, so make sure that your Dachshund spends adequate time exploring water first.
This next step involves exposure to shallow water. Whatever you do, do not throw them into the deep end first. 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. From here, you can start to gradually bring your dog deeper in.
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. Dogs are great learners that will learn a lot from their owners.
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. Dogs look to their owners when they’re hesitant. So make sure to be praising them and always in their view. 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 and ultra-flexible.
Plus, this life jacket is recommended by so many dog owners. You’ll want to get an extra-small for a Dachshund. Though, please use their sizing chart for confirmation.
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 in the same manner as training for 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, especially with the Dachshund! For example, if you normally reward your dog with a big fuss and a treat, do this even in the water! Just make sure you keep those delicious treats dry in a plastic bag!
For very water-shy dogs, try a watery get together with some other dog friends who love swimming. Dogs learn a lot from their humans, but they learn more from other dogs. This is especially true for the Doxie breed, who are pack dogs.
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. It also gives you, as their owner, the peace of mind of letting them swim.
Always keep a watchful eye on your dog while he is swimming. If he looks tired, remove him from the water immediately. It’s best you stay close by your Dachshund in the early phases of learning to keep them safe.
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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