Dog Fun Dog Training

Can Rottweilers Swim? – A Guide to Swimming With Your Rottie

Can Rottweilers swim? How well does a Rottweiler swim?
Written by Tiffany Jeng

The Rottweiler is a very large breed of dog and, if you have one or are thinking of getting one, you might wonder if Rottweilers can swim. Continue reading to find out more about Rottweilers and their swimming ability.

So, can Rottweilers swim? Firstly, Rottweilers can and do swim. However, because of the build of this breed of dog, they don’t make the best swimmers. But, with enough practice, Rottweilers can learn to swim, although some might not be particularly fond of it.

Rottweilers are not natural swimmers but if their owner is patient and gives them lots of practice, they can learn to swim. There are many ways in which you can teach this dog to swim. For hot days when your dog might want to cool down, this is the perfect way.

RECOMMENDED: Here’s Why Rottweilers Are Smart Dogs

Rottweiler and Swimming

When letting your Rottweiler swim, buy them a life jacket, introduce them slow and bring some treats.

It is uncommon to find Rottweilers that are naturally great swimmers. Still, many Rotties do swim and are not in any danger to themselves while in water.

Since the breed is heavyset with large muscles, swimming is quite difficult for them. Rottweilers are bred this way, as they are meant to be working guard dogs.

When breeders were developing the Rottweiler, they didn’t need to breed this skillset or swim-friendly qualities into them because their role wouldn’t involve being in the water. Therefore, swimming doesn’t come naturally.

But just because they weren’t made for this doesn’t mean the dog doesn’t enjoy this wet activity. Just check YouTube and you’ll find plenty of videos of Rotties swimming and having fun!

Do Rottweilers Like Swimming?

Despite being large and heavy many Rottweilers really do enjoy a good swim! They’re very athletic and swimming can help them burn off some of their excess energy.

Unlike other breeds that are naturals in the water (such as the Poodle), you will need to give your Rottweiler more encouragement and guidance in the water.

One Rottweiler owner mentions that her loves swimming, saying:

Mine loves to swim, but she’s not very good at it so I got her a life jacket. She will swim in circles for hours if you let her, and sneak back down to the lake when you’re not looking.

– Jleigh041004 (Reddit User)

Most Rottweilers that enjoy swimming aren’t usually adept swimmers. But as long as they have a life jacket and you keep watch, they will be just fine.

On the other hand, not all Rottweilers are fans of bodies of water and swimming. Other Rottweiler owners tell us the opposite, saying:

My Rottweiler hates the water. She will push all the other dogs in the pool but will not go in whatsoever.

– Pugz1422 (Reddit User)

According to the responses we gathered from Rottweiler owners of the Rottie Subreddit, there is mixed results.

The dog either loves swimming or he’s scared of water. It really depends on your individual dog and the only way to find out is by trying to swim.

Tips For Swimming With Your Rottie

This breed’s obedience make them quite easy to train compared to many other dog breeds. In fact, they’re ranked the 9th dog breed for highest obedience & working intelligence.

However, it is important that they are properly trained to enjoy being in the water and are introduced to it gradually. If the dog experiences something negative, he might be put off, which would be very difficult to change.

Before you start, make sure you have a plan with all the proper equipment you might need to teach your dog to swim. Here’s a quick but thorough guide to swimming with your Rottweiler.

Swim With a Life Jacket

You will need a life vest when beginning the process of learning. A life vest is not only a safety precaution (these dogs are heavy and if they can’t swim, you will struggle to save them), but will also help your dog get used to being in the water while learning.

You can get dog life vests for very little on sites like Amazon.com. There is a good range of sizes so make sure you check out the size guides. By far my favorite life vest and the one I personally use is the Paws Abroad Dog Life Jacket.

It’s made with high quality, breathable mesh unlike other “traditional” life vests. It feels like it’d be much more comfortable for your dog. Plus, the neoprene fabric adds the perfect amount of buoyancy to help your Rottweiler learn how to swim.

A typical full-size adult Rottweiler will need a large or extra-large life vest. Make sure to check the sizing chart if you’re buying one for your Rottie pup. 

Again, I highly recommend checking it out here at Amazon. There are a ton of options, but there’s a reason why this life vest has so many raving reviews.

Bring the Treats!

Another important thing to have are dog treats (bring your Rottie’s favorite!). It’s important to reward your dog when he or she does something well.

Bringing out the treats is also a great way to bribe your Rottweiler into the water. If your dog is food-driven, then it’ll make things that much easier.

You might have to consider how you are going to give these treats, as you don’t want them to get wet! I suggest putting them in a plastic zip bag to keep them dry.

Obviously, you will need to have access to water. This could be a nearby lake or a swimming pool in your yard. For your Rottie’s first time I would recommend a more controlled environment, such as a backyard pool.

How to Teach a Rottweiler to Swim

Teaching your Rottweiler to swim is easier than you think.

Rottweilers are big but they are also gifted dogs, physically speaking. However, their size and weight do make swimming more challenging.

Don’t be put off, though, there are a couple of methods that are great ways for teaching your Rottweiler to swim.

Before you go anywhere near water, make sure that your Rottweiler is comfortable wearing the life vest. Put it on at home and for your dog’s usual walks.

Yes, it might look a little strange if you are nowhere near water, but you are simply conditioning your dog to accept the life vest. It’ll be worth it!

Kid Swimming Method

To begin this method, you need to take your Rottweiler directly to the water but find somewhere where the water is shallow and calm. In other words, the beach may not be the best place to start.

Put your dog’s life vest on and slowly bring them to the water. It will encourage your dog to feel safe if you also get into the water. By being in the water, it tells your Rottie that it’s perfectly fine to get in.

Make all of your movements slow and encourage your dog to follow closely. Make sure you don’t move too quickly; you need your dog to trust you. I guess this is similar to when you teach a child to swim.

When you’re getting deeper, help your dog to swim. Show him or her what swimming can help them do. Make sure you’re able to spot your Rottie in case they seem to be struggling.

Bribe-A-Rottie Method

The second method is a great choice but we recommend starting with a children’s pool. Start with the small pool in your back yard so that you can encourage your dog to get used to the water.

Begin by sitting by the water together. Next, you’ll want to put a treat or two into the water and encourage your dog to retrieve them. This will help him or her to realize that water is fun and not scary.

Repeat this process until your dog finds this really easy. Then, you need to find a bigger body of water – such as a normal size pool or a calm lake.

Still, it’s important to stick to shallow water before you move deeper when they’re confident. In no time, your Rottweiler will be swimming on by themselves. 

Rottie See, Rottie Do

Pro tip: use another dog to help your Rottweiler learn to swim. Just make sure the other dog is a seasoned swimmer, otherwise you may end up with two struggling dogs. 

If you have a friend or relative that has a dog that enjoys swimming, this may be a good “tool” for you. Rather, you can call it your secret weapon for swim training your dog.

With another dog in the water, your Rottie will be encouraged to join in and have fun. It shows your dog that it’s okay to be in the water. In fact, it’s fun!

Dogs learn quickly and tend to pick up habits (good and bad) from other dogs. A dog friend will distract your Rottweiler too. So if they are a little nervous, this could certainly help ease the anxiety. 

Swim With the Rottie

One of the best ways to calm your Rottweiler during this potentially stressful process is by getting into the water with your dog. If you’re in the water while giving positive praises, it’ll definitely boost their confidence.

According to Lee Deaton, founder of Natural Healing (a canine hydrotherapy facility), owners should feel and act as relaxed as possible. If you’re nervous about the situation, they’ll be nervous too.

When pet owners feel anxious or frustrated, dogs sense it immediately.

– Lee Deaton (Natural Healing)

Dogs, especially Rottweilers, are great at reading human emotions. This is just something to keep in mind so you don’t make the situation worse by panicking during the training.

Plus, swimming with your dog is one of the most fun activities that owners and canine companions can enjoy together. Once they learn, it’s a great bonding experience for both parties.

Checklist: Things to Remember

There are some basic things that you need to consider when introducing your Rottweiler to the water.

  1. Introduce your Rottweiler slowly into the water. Even if in the beginning you start by sitting by the water, this step is necessary for many dogs.
  2. Never be impatient or rush your dog. If they start to panic when they are in the water it could turn into a phobia of water. Then it will be that much more difficult in the future.
  3. Always try a life vest until you and your dog are both confident in their ability. It provides you and your dog an extra layer of security while in the water.
  4. Use training techniques just like you would if you were teaching them something else. Rottweilers are obedient so they should learn just as they do with other tricks and skills.
  5. Do it with them. Your dog trusts you and will follow your lead. If your dog sees you in the water, they’ll be more likely to have a go themselves.
  6. Make sure you shower them well after a swimming session. Once your swimming lesson is over, it is vital that you bath your dog and use shampoo and soap. Your dog may look and seem clean but, depending on the water, they will have been swimming in a chlorinated pool or a body of water that might have contamination. It could just be dirty even. Giving your dog a good bath afterwards will keep their fur in tip-top condition.

Does Your Rottweiler Enjoy Swimming?

How do you recognize if and when your Rottweiler isn’t happy in the water?

If your Rottweiler suddenly stops going in the water, just let him take his time. Never force them back in. Instead, encourage them and see if them go back.

Pay attention to your Rottie’s body language. You will know if your dog isn’t enjoying swimming because he will have a more rigid posture. His head will be low and forward and his tail will point downwards between his legs.

Sometimes, a dog might also grimace or whine. If you notice your dog doing any of these things, try techniques to calm him down (talking to him and stroking him whilst in the water).

Never coerce a Rottie to swim if they don’t enjoy it. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your Rottweiler is just not interested in enjoying the water. That’s perfectly okay!

If any of this happens and you’ve already had repeated attempts at trying to teach your dog to swim, it’s important you stop trying for a while. Otherwise, your dog might begin fearing water. It’s not a race – you can always try again in a few months’ time.

Posts you may like:

About the author

Tiffany Jeng

Tiffany is a product of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine (class of 2022). Combined with over 5 years of veterinary technician experience, she's dedicated her life and career to dogs. When she's not studying or working, she's taking care of her Mini Australian Shepherd - Olympus!

Leave a Comment