Can German Shepherds swim - GSD Colony

Can German Shepherds Swim? (Must-Know Facts)

Everyone who owns a German Shepherd knows that these dogs are more than dogs. They’re smart, fast, strong, and extremely loyal. But are they good swimmers? Do German Shepherds love water at all?

The simple answer is yes. German Shepherds can swim, in fact, this is one of the best activities for your German Shepherd. Some German Shepherds don’t equally enjoy the water like other dogs or GSDs, but if you introduce water to your German Shepherd on the right way, we are almost 100% sure that your German Shepherd will love swimming and water games! 

In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most popular topics in the German Shepherd world - swimming. You’ll learn everything that you need to know before you start swimming with your German Shepherd dog, what should you do during the swimming, how long should your German Shepherd swim without pause and many other things!

Do German Shepherds like to swim?

German Shepherd enjoys activities in which they must invest a lot of energy and effort, and the perfect example of one of these activities is swimming. Most German Shepherds love to swim and play water games, but this doesn’t mean that all German Shepherds love swimming. 

Two German Shepherds Swimming in river

There are different factors why your German Shepherd doesn’t love swimming, but with training and patience, your German Shepherd can start loving this wonderful activity. 

Here are a couple of reasons why your German Shepherd doesn’t like swimming:

  • Trauma
  • Lack of exposure
  • Unfamiliar environment
  • They don’t like not being in control
  • Some dogs find swim time stressful 

Swimming is a truly wonderful and amazing activity, and we believe that this is the best activity for German Shepherd dogs, and dogs in general. 

During and after swimming, your German Shepherd will train almost every muscle and get extremely tired! Keep one thing in mind, a tired dog is a happy and healthy dog. 

Swimming will also help you to improve the mental and physical health of your German Shepherd. And maybe one of the most important things: your German Shepherd will get rid of dead dog hairs during the swimming! If you’re a German Shepherd owner, you will understand why having a clean fur of your dog is important, especially during shedding season :)

But please be careful. Only one negative experience with water can traumatize your German Shepherd for whole his life. Be careful when you for the first time teaching your German Shepherd to swim, or introducing to the water in general. Take small steps, make every experience with water positive, and always reward the good behavior of your GSD.

Can German Shepherds swim in cold water?

Yes, German Shepherds can swim in cold water, but this isn’t good for their health. The recommended water temperature for swimming is around 70 °F (21 °C). If your German Shepherd speed too much time in the cold water, later he can suffer from Hypothermia, and also can lead to frostbite.

Thanks to their thick double coat, some German Shepherds can swim in the water at which the temperature is 45 °F (7 °C). If the water temperature is below 45 °F (7 °C), you should not allow your German Shepherd to enter in water at all.

Frozen lake during winter between mountains

If the outside temperature isn’t that high, make sure to dry your German Shepherd after swimming with a towel, but if the outside temperature is normal, let their coat dry naturally.

ALWAYS KEEP YOUR PUPPIES WARM! Adult German shepherds can withstand extreme cold, but German Shepherd puppies cannot. Allow your puppy German shepherds to swim only when the weather is pleasant.

Are German Shepherds natural swimmers?

In general, we can say that German Shepherds are natural swimmers. Each dog has their own personality, and some German Shepherd will like much more swimming than other German Shepherd, but when you compare German Shepherd to other dog breeds, they have a huge physical advantage in the water.

But as we mention, each German Shepherd has their own personality. Even if he isn’t a good swimmer, or he doesn’t like water, after a couple of classes of swimming, and with a help of a safety life jacket, we are sure that he will be able to swim in the water. 

German Shepherds have some very big advantages in the water compared to the other dog breeds, and one of these advantages are:

  • Strong Legs: thanks to their long, muscular, and strong legs, German Shepherds can swim faster in the water than most dog breeds.

  • Double Coat: thanks to the double coat, German Shepherds will stay warmer for longer.

  • Long Snout: swimming isn’t easy, and they need to breathe properly in order to keep their heartbeat normal and stay focused on the swimming. Luckily, German Shepherd has a long snout, and it will be easier for them to breathe while they’re swimming.

  • Webbed Feet: A German shepherd's feet are naturally webbed, though not as much as a frog's. Because of that, they can move through water way, way better.

How long can a German Shepherd swim?

The recommended time of swimming for German Shepherds in one single day is 15-45 minutes. Make sure that your German Shepherd can take a quick break always. German Shepherd can easily get tired after 5 minutes of swimming, and if they don’t take a quick break, this can be life-threatening for them.

How fast can a German Shepherd swim?

The average swimming speed of German Shepherds dogs is 1-2 mph (1.6 - 3.2 km/h). Older and weaker German Shepherds will probably swim slower, and that’s okay. On the other hand, younger and stronger German Shepherd can achieve better results.

When you compare a German Shepherd to a human, humans can swim faster thanks to our physical advantage. Some professional swimmers can achieve a swimming speed of 5 mph (8 km/h), which is almost three times the speed of a German Shepherd dog.

How to get my German Shepherd to swim?

Learning your German Shepherd to swim in a safe and calm environment is one of the best practices. By teaching your German Shepherd dog swimming in a calm environment, you’ll help him to stay focused on the only essential thing at that moment - swimming.

For the first time, make sure that you are near your German Shepherd. Let him first explore the environment, and after that, enter with him into the water. 

Make always a few steps, and DO NOT play with your German Shepherd for the first time in the water. The goal at the begging is not to teach them immediately to swim but to achieve a positive experience with the water.

Teaching German Shepherd dog to swim

Once they are comfortable in the water, you can let your German Shepherd try alone, but be always near him.

Here is some great this from AKC on how to teach your dog to swim:

  1. Life safety jacket (vest): For younger dogs, this is usually a good idea. Though German Shepherds are athletic enough to swim practically immediately, it's occasionally best to keep it safe.

  2. Enter in the water first: If you enter the water before your dog, he or she is more likely to follow you. If they don't want to come in, don't force them.

  3. Avoid Deep Water: It's critical that your German Shepherd isn't terrified of water before going swimming. A shallow pool or pond that reaches up to their chest level is a nice place to start. Once they've become used to being in the water, you can go on to somewhere deeper where they can truly swim.

  4. Reward them: Keep plenty of snacks on hand to reward your German shepherd along the route. Treats not only reinforce pleasant connections with water for them, but they can also inspire them to try new things.

  5. Be careful: This is true from the first step to infinity. When your dog is swimming, we recommend that you stay with him at all times. Accidents are uncommon, but they can be avoided by just keeping a watch on them.

  6. Be patient: Some German Shepherds will take to the water more quickly than others. If yours is more hesitant, keep a positive attitude and let them move at their own pace. Keep the prizes coming, and they'll ultimately come around.

Why should I not let my German Shepherd swim?

Swimming is a great activity for German Shepherds, but in some cases, we can not allow our German Shepherd dogs to swim. If your German Shepherd is injured or suffering from a serious disease, you should avoid swimming with your dog.

If your German Shepherd suffers from one of these diseases, you should avoid swimming:

  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Degenerative disc disease

Swimming isn’t only a great activity which you can do with your German Shepherd. There are so many great other activities which you can do with your German Shepherd, and if you need an idea, we recommend you to check our blog with the best activities for you and your German Shepherd.

Can a German Shepherd swim in the pool?

It’s cool if you have a pool in your house, but it’s even cooler if you enjoy that pool with your German Shepherd! But can they swim in the pool? The simple and short answer is yes, German Shepherds can swim into the pool with supervision. Of course, you should not allow your German Shepherd to drink the pool water. 

German Shepherd swimming in pool

Also, you want to be always near him when he is in the pool. There are a few pools dangerous for your German Shepherd, some of them are:

  1. Accidental drownings. Unfortunately, a German Shepherd dog, or any other outdoor creature, can drown in a swimming pool in the backyard. Even experienced swimmers can drown because they automatically head to the pool's edges, but then couldn't figure out how to get out.

  2. Water intoxication. When a dog drinks too much water, the sodium levels in his blood become overly diluted, resulting in water intoxication. While this is uncommon, it does occur, and if not treated swiftly, it can be fatal. If your pet consumes a lot of water from a saltwater pool, he or she runs the danger of getting salt poisoning.

  3. More bacteria in the pool. We adore our German Shepherds, but let's be honest: they aren't always the cleanest! Hair, dander, grime, feces, pollen, and other contaminants will all be present in your pool water.

    This is more of a tip for the people because whatever is on your dog could make the humans in the pool sick. If your dog has feces on its back, this could seep into the water, and if a human swallows the water, they could contract E. coli!

  4. Irritated skin. The chemicals in a well-maintained pool should be diluted enough for your dog to swim in without being poisonous, although the chemicals may cause redness, itching, or peeling on your dog's skin.

  5. Pool cleaning chemicals. It can be highly harmful if your German Shepherd dog gets into your stock of powerful pool cleaning chemicals. Chlorine tablets, muriatic acid, brominating tablets, and similar products are harmful and can cause ulcers in your pet's mouth and throat if consumed.

Can German Shepherds swim into the ocean?

With the right precaution, it’s absolutely fine to let your German Shepherd swim and have fun in the ocean. The most important thing when you let your German Shepherd swim into the ocean is to always watch him.

German Shepherd on ocean beach


Here is some great advice which you can follow to avoid any accidents:

  1. Stay away from rough waters. It's critical to pay close attention to riptides, the undertow, and what local lifeguards are saying about the present conditions, just as it is with humans.

  2. Allowing your German Shepherd dog to drink the water is not a good idea. We all know how salty ocean water is. Your dog will become thirsty as it swims and runs around the beach. However, your dog should not drink ocean water because the salt will cause dehydration or diarrhea. Also, your German Shepherd can suffer from Salt Toxicity.

  3. Keep an eye out for sea creatures. On the surface of the ocean, your German Shepherd dog can have a lot of fun, but there are some risks hiding below that you should be aware of. Jellyfish, mussels, starfish, and urchins contain poisons that might damage your dog if licked or eaten.

  4. After your German Shepherd dog swims in the ocean, keep an eye out for any unusual breathing, vomiting, or scratching. They could indicate that your dog was fatigued, consumed seawater, or came into contact with wildlife.

Can German Shepherd puppies swim?

Around the age of two to five months, a German Shepherd puppy can normally swim in a pool or small body of water. A puppy should never be tossed into a pool; instead, it should be introduced gradually and under constant supervision. Demonstrate how to get into and out of the pool.

When it comes to swimming pools, it's critical to instill confidence in your German Shepherd dog. While some young pups are born swimmers, others find the water to be terrifying and frightening.

German Shepherd puppy swimming

As we mentioned before, always make small steps, be gentle, and patient, and your German Shepherd puppy will become addicted to the water!

What age can German Shepherds swim?

The majority of German Shepherd pups are ready to swim in a pool around the age of ten weeks. Some German Shepherd puppies need longer to acquire swimming strength, so they could be as young as five months when they are ready to go swimming.

Does German Shepherd love water?

Yes, German Shepherds enjoy the water because it allows them to play, run, and explore, but they don’t love showering and bathing that much.

To learn more, we suggest you read our blog post “Do German Shepherds love water”. You will be amazed by some amazing facts and tips.

Final words.

Water and swimming can be extremely fun and healthy for your German Shepherd, but only if you take all necessary measures.

Introduce the water to your German Shepherd nicely and easily, be with them, reward them, and they will start loving water activities more than any other activity!

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