If you’re wondering whether or not poodles are good swimmers – or whether they can even swim at all, you’re at the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about a poodle’s swimming ability. So, can poodles really swim?
Poodles are good swimmers! In fact, the breed is one of the best in terms of swimming ability. Apparently, poodles were bred to be a retriever in water. There are many characteristics of poodles, such as their coat and paws, that makes them destined to be great swimmers.
If you’re interested in knowing more about why poodles are so good in the water and how you can use this knowledge with your poodle, continue reading. I’ll also be discussing how to get your poodles used to the water and getting the best out of them as swimmers.
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Table of Contents
Origins of the Swimming Poodle
There’s a clue in the name of this breed of dog in terms of swimming. The word ‘poodle’ originates from the Low German noun ‘puddle’ – Pudel. In English, it literally translates to “water dog.” And as you can guess, this dog was bred as a water retriever.
With such a name and breed job, it’s obvious that this type of dog is likely to be great in the water. How do can a dog retrieve from the water if they aren’t prolific swimmers?
In addition, we know that poodles originate in Europe. However, we aren’t sure where exactly. There are arguments among many that claim they originated in France. On the other hand, some believe they came from Germany.
Why Poodles Are Great Swimmers
When breeders are breeding dogs, there are certain characteristics that are desirable, especially if you’re breeding dogs with a specific reason or purpose in mind. Mixing traits is a big thing in breeding.
Poodles came about because of a desire to hunt ducks. A poodle’s tail is unique in shape. It has fur at the top that resembles a pompom. This feature allows duck hunters to see where the dog was wherever it went in the water.
Another trait of the poodle that makes them a great swimmer is the webbed feet. This is something that was developed in breeding specifically to make the poodle a great water retriever.
Webbed feet are common among any animal that lives or spends time in the water. These webbed feet mean that poodles are able to swim efficiently. Webbing is apparent in all dogs but not to the same extent as the poodle. You could even go as far as to say that a poodle’s webbed paws are great water paddles!
A poodle’s fur coat is really recognizable. It’s a great feature and is really quite unique. Most dogs have two layers of fur but a poodle only has one. This single coat is really dense and makes swimming easier.
Poodles also have “fluff spots” or excess hairs around the chest, head and ankles to keep their organs warm while swimming in the water. Some owners opt to use a topknot haircut to keep the wet hair from covering their eyes during swims. Obviously, poodles won’t be able to swipe the hair away from their eyes.
So far, we’ve been talking about standard poodles. However, everything mentioned until now also applies to miniature poodles and toy poodles too. Since these breeds descend from standard poodles, it means they have similar characteristics, which means they’re good swimmers as well.
Poodles have been designed and bred to be good swimmers for centuries. When a poodle is in water, it will most likely do really well. It is important to note, however, that not every poodle is like this.
Will Your Poodle Swim?
Poodles are very likely to love going for a swim due to their features that make them apt for the water.
When many people think about a dog jumping into the water, they often envisage a Labrador or Golden Retriever as these are popular water-loving dogs. Poodles, however, also love water!
Don’t let a poodle’s refined and elegant appearance deceive you. They love nothing more than launching themselves into a pond or river. Given the opportunity, a poodle will happily launch itself into the water.
But, it’s important to realize that not every poodle will be typical. Even though poodles have been bred to be great swimmers, it doesn’t mean that every poodle wants to get into the water. Some will go straight in there ready to retrieve a ball, others will paddle.
Even though dogs have the same genes to be able to be good swimmers, it does not mean that they want to be.
We can, therefore, come to the conclusion that every poodle is genetically predisposed to be a great swimmer, but this doesn’t mean that every poodle is a great swimmer.
Typically, when a dog ends up in water its legs will keep moving so that it doesn’t sink. Some dogs don’t know how to turn this into swimming and might not be able to propel themselves forward.
If you are wondering whether or not your dog can swim, expose him or her to water and go from there.
Training Poodles to Swim – a step by step approach
If you’re keen to get your poodle swimming well, there are some steps you can take so that both you and your dog can be confident in the water. Here’s a step by step approach to training a poodle to swim.
1. Exposing Your Poodle to Water
It’s easy to start the process of getting your poodle to swim.
Firstly, you need to expose your dog to water so if you have a beach, lake, or river close by, head there for your walks. Make sure you go close enough so that your dog can try to get their paws wet. Exposure to the sound and sight of water is really important.
Don’t rush the process. There is no need to place your dog in the water straight away. Simply let them know of its existence so that they become familiar with it and do not fear it.
2. Start in Shallow Water
If you had never been in the water and suddenly you were plunged into deep water, you’d probably be a bit panicked. Deep water is quite intimidating for dogs initially too.
Start off by introducing your poodle to shallower water where he can touch the ground and be in the water all at once. It’s also necessary to ensure there are no strong currents that might scare your dog or make it harder to swim.
Through this gentle introduction, your poodle will become accustomed to the feel of water while feeling safe and secure standing on the ground.
3. Help Your Poodle Into the Water
Your dog trusts you implicitly. If you show your dog that water is ok, they will be more successful. So, get yourself in the water! Wade further out where the water becomes deeper and encourage your dog to join you.
With you there for reassurance, your dog is more likely to take to this new experience and will take to it like… a duck to water! You might want to wait until the warmer months to try this! Otherwise, dig out your waders and head on right in!
4. Train Your Dog in the Water
You’ll want to train your dog in water, like you would out of water. You probably have some tricks up your sleeve for when you try and train your dog to do things. But because Poodles are intelligent and great learners, this approach will make things easier.
Going into the water is just another thing you need to train your poodle to do so don’t forget the techniques you use when you’re on dry land. You will need to be patient and show your dog love and encouragement.
Make sure you praise your poodle at any opportunity and reward with treats if he is used to this recompense. This will help your dog to understand that this is something that you are trying to teach him.
With a timid dog, it might be useful to introduce your poodle to the water in the company of other dogs who already love being in water and swimming. For example, Australian Shepherds love to swim – so maybe look for an Aussie friend?
If your dog sees others having fun, being in water won’t seem as scary.
It Takes Time & Patience
You need to be aware that different dogs will need different time spent on each of the steps. Some dogs might have to repeat a step and try again before they get swimming nailed. Some dogs might not need to go through any of the steps at all before they’re launching themselves off a jetty!
What is really important is that you listen and respond to your dog as an individual. Don’t push him too far and respect his boundaries. The last thing you want is a dog panicking in deep water!
Dog drowning incidents do occur so take things extremely slowly, only moving on to the next step when both you and your dog are confident with the level you’re currently at.
If you’re really unsure and nervous, you can buy a life vest for a poodle. In fact, I’d highly recommend the Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket Vest:
It’s highly rated because it uses premium quality materials and breathable mesh. Plus it comes in many designs and patterns to match your dog’s personality! For standard poodles, get a medium. Small for a miniature and extra small for a miniature and XXS for a toy. Refer to the size chart if you’re unsure.
Whatever the outcome of your swimming experience, whether your poodle is a natural or not, just remember that they love you no matter what and you should love them back.
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