Can French Bulldogs Swim?

It’s entirely reasonable for owners to wonder, “Can French Bulldogs swim?” After all, most of us have heard horror stories about a French Bulldog swimming or trying to swim, and running into trouble in the water. What do you need to know about this issue before you allow your dog to play in or around the pool?

Understanding why can’t French Bulldogs swim is crucial to their overall safety. You will be able to think of alternative activities easily, so you don’t need to give up on enjoying the outdoors with your pet during warm summer days.

So, Can French Bulldogs Swim? 

In short, the answer is No, French Bulldogs can’t swim.  Most French Bulldogs are not able to swim.  You may have seen some videos of other French Bulldogs swimming with no issues but most cannot. You may be tempted to let your Frenchie cool off in the pool but I wouldn’t recommend it.  

My French Bulldog certainly can’t swim.  I have seen him try and fail badly.  Even with a life jacket on my French Bulldog is not a fan of the water.  

Why French Bulldogs Can’t Swim and Aren’t Meant for Water

According to All-Star French Bulldogs, the idea that French Bulldogs can’t swim is true. While they may have the essential ability, their body’s build makes swimming virtually impossible.  

Most French Bulldogs will sink under the water if you leave them unattended. Definitely do not leave your French Bulldog around water unattended.  Even if you believe that your French bulldog can swim, chances are they won’t be able to swim for long and that puts them on risk.  French Bulldogs are not able to swim to the surface once they get fatigued and they start going under.

French Bulldog Drowning Risk

This dog breed is one that should never be left unattended around water. Frenchies have a somewhat top-heavy build that makes them sink fairly quickly. Another hazard that awaits is in the form of a short snout that cannot reach above water easily.

Should one of these dogs slip underwater, you will need to act quickly to get them to safety. These dogs lack the physical power to get back up to the surface that quickly on their own, which puts them in danger when unsupervised

Supervision is Necessary

Although some dogs of this breed may swim as far as 10 or 15 feet, the risk of allowing one of these dogs in the water is excellent. French Bulldog pet parents would do well to only allow supervised swimming with a life jacket or safer alternatives.

Before deciding how to allow your French Bulldog to enjoy water-related activities, you would benefit from finding out more about why these dogs are ill-suited to the water. I’ve found that knowledge is power, especially where our furkids are concerned.

French Bulldogs and Their Builds

Frenchies are compact dogs, yet have a powerful build for their size. However, this compact size can be the dog’s downfall when they are in the water.

A Build That Does Not Work

French bulldog swimming is made difficult because their muscular, yet stout build leaves them without much buoyancy. Other, somewhat larger dogs have the ability to swim more effectively because of better weight distribution.

These dogs are heavier in the front part of their bodies, which complicates swimming straight ahead or attempting to turn while in the water. For a dog to be able to swim with minimal difficulties, they need to swim straight ahead and turn without problems.

Leg Length Makes a Difference

Another thing that works against these dogs in the water is their short leg length. Dogs swim using the proverbial “doggie paddle,” and Frenchies have such short legs that turning while swimming or touching their feet to the bottom in shallows is difficult.

With paddling being an essential part of how dogs make their way through the water, their legs must be powerful enough to keep them moving along. Without the ability to move through the water effectively, a dog can’t stay safe in the water.

Frenchies and Brachycephalic Faces

The “smooshed’ appearance of a Frenchie’s face has a lot to do with possible health issues that make swimming difficult. These cuties are very susceptible to a condition known as obstructive airway syndrome.

Getting Enough Oxygen is Crucial

Oxygen deprivation is a genuine concern for these dogs. Since activities like swimming require a fair amount of physical exertion, exhaustion to the point of a drowning risk is a real threat that could test the limits of your dog CPR skills.

Although there are signs you can watch for that predict your dog is having difficulties, oxygen loss can come on quite quickly. Preventing an incident of this kind is always preferable in any case.

Facial Shape Makes a Difference

Another unfortunate side effect of brachycephaly, the term for the flat face and short snout, is that the dog must keep their head tilted up for more natural breathing. I’ve found that this posture makes it even harder for French Bulldogs to swim correctly.

With getting enough air being a possible problem when your dog swims, erring on the side of caution might be your best choice. The good thing to know is that your dog will still enjoy options that minimize their drowning or exhaustion risk.

French Bulldogs and Additional Health Issues

Heat and high humidity levels don’t usually suit Frenchies very well. The question of can French Bulldogs swim is often a “yes, but” because of poor heat/humidity tolerance, along with other issues. This breed’s brachycephalic snout increases heat/humidity intolerance during exercise and similar activities.

Pain-Related Conditions

Some of the more common Frenchie health problems also include arthritis and rheumatism. Both of these conditions can make swimming difficult.

When a dog of any size is in the water, having control over their movements, is essential. Since dogs have a high pain tolerance level and can easily hide their pain level, owners might not notice any problems until the dog is having a lot of trouble.

Size Does Matter

The dog’s small size can be a problem of its own. For example, a dog might fall into the shallow end of a pool with enough force to cause serious injury. In a rocky beach, river, or lake setting, your dog could get hurt falling up against rocks.

You may need to carefully consider what types of settings where you take your dog to swim, if at all. For example, you may want to consider calmer areas, including pools. Avoiding situations where waves bump your dog up against hard surfaces is always good.

Other Ways to Give Your Frenchie Fun

Even if the answer to why can’t French Bulldogs swim seems somewhat discouraging, the good news is that there are safe ways your Frenchie can still enjoy the water. It’s important to know what the options are so you can make the best choice.

Some of the safer alternatives for your furry friend include:

Swimming With a Life Jacket

Either life jacket or life vest will help keep your dog safe around water. One of these jackets or vests provides greater buoyancy for your dog.

Making sure the jacket fits properly and fastens easily is essential. Another feature that you will want to look for is a handle. A flotation device with a handle helps you grab your dog quickly, much more easily, if necessary.

Using a Wading Pool, Small Stock Tank, Or Dog Swimming Pool

If you’re unsure about going out in the water with your dog, consider a small wading pool. The size that you would use for a baby or toddler should be sufficient for the needs of a dog that size of a Frenchie.

Another option is a small stock tank that is about the size of a small wading pool. If you decide to use this option, consider a small ramp or set of steps to make it easier for the dog to get into the tank.

Letting Your Frenchie Play Under a Sprinkler

One fun way to play it safe, especially if you have children that you prefer not to let in the water, is to allow sprinkler play. You might need to sensitize your dog to being around the sprinkler first.

Once your dog has had the chance to get used to the sprinkler, they are likely to have a great time playing near it. The best advantage of allowing your dog to play under the sprinkler is that you don’t need to worry about accidents.

Going on Boating Trips

My parents live on a Lake so my Frenchie has been out for boat rides on their party barge on many occasions.  If you go boating regularly, taking your French Bulldog along can be a lot of fun for both of you. These little dogs are naturally curious and will take an interest in whatever is going on around them.

Regardless of what type of watercraft you use, use a life jacket or vest as a precaution. You’ll have greater peace of mind knowing that your dog enjoys greater protection as you take part in your favorite water activities.

Regardless of how you choose to allow your dog to get out and enjoy the water, proper supervision is essential. Your Frenchie will be less likely to end up injured, and you’ll be able to enjoy the experience to its fullest.

In Conclusion – Can French Bulldogs Swim?

Although it might be disheartening to find that swimming may not be safe for your Frenchie, the good news is that the alternatives allow you to have plenty of fun. You might be doing things a little differently, but it won’t be any less fulfilling.

With the right precautions, your pooch can have a lot of fun with everyone outside this summer. Dogs love the opportunity to be involved in the rest of the family’s activities whenever possible.

Looking for other ways to keep your Frenchie cool on hot Summer days?  Check out this article on the best dog cooling vests.  

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