Can A French Bulldog Swim?

French bulldog in life jacket standing in water

Dogs are an iconic, widely known, and well-loved addition to our homes. I am sure you would agree that we tend to see dogs as the easy-going, natural-born swimmers who love the water. We think, well of course dogs can swim, right?

While this may be true for many dog breeds, this is not true for all of them. More specifically, I want to focus on French Bulldog. 

Can A French Bulldog Swim?

As adorable as these dogs are, they tend to be very poor swimmers given their bulbous frame and top-heavy nature. They are not natural swimmers in the least.

In fact, it takes extreme effort for them and is usually ineffective. Although this may be a surprise to you or even a shock, they are not the only breeds that struggle to swim.

Why Can French Bulldogs Not Swim?

The French Bulldogs is a Brachycephalic type of breed, which refers to dogs with a shortened snout and narrow passageway for breathing. These breeds are prone to respiratory issues and are shallow breathers.

Having the short, pushed in snout forces them to work hard to keep their noses up out of the water, having to keep their heads tilted back. The effort exerted in keeping the face titled above the water wears their bodies out more swiftly.

They also tire more quickly because they can’t seem to pull in enough air while tilting their heads up and trying to swim. Other breeds that have the squished in nose, such as the Pug, have similar tendencies with trying to swim.

French Bulldogs do have a natural instinct to swim, and often enjoy the water just as much as the next dog. Can you blame them? Who doesn’t love the refreshing cooling effect of a good swim? I know I do, especially on a hot and muggy day. However, they should always be supervised as carefully as a newborn around any water that is deeper than a few inches.

Given their Squat unsymmetrical body, dense bones, and thick muscles, they are more likely to sink to the bottom like a boulder than float gracefully on the surface.

The sad reality is that the small, stalky bodies of the French Bulldogs are not conducive to flotation and swimming. They should never be left unsupervised near any water deep water, especially if the waters are rough. They could easily drown within seconds, prematurely losing their lives.

Is There A Solution So Frenchies Can Still Enjoy The Water?

Although you should be relieved to know that their fate is not all doom and gloom, we have stated the hard truth now let us find a solution. Honestly, as long as you know the facts, you can discover safe alternatives. They will be having watery fun in the sun in no time. There are several options that allow your furry little love to enjoy the water and stay cool during those hotter summer months. 

– Get A Kiddie Pool

– A Life Jacket For Dogs

Get A Kiddie Pool

Frenchies enjoy being able to splash around in shallow water and get a much-needed reprieve from the heat in doing so. French Bulldog owners are often encouraged to get a kiddie pool and let the dogs splash around in it.

They are perfectly safe as long as they can easily stand in the water and not have to work at keeping their heads tilted upward. They deserve to have some fun and play as well and will enjoy the water play. 

A Life Jacket For Dogs

Another great option is life jackets that are designed specifically for dogs. With these jackets, you can now have that added protection and peace of mind for your pet while hanging out at the lake on a hot summer day.

Having a French Bulldog shouldn’t hold either of you from relaxing summer fun by the water. It is important to remember always to keep a close eye on your French Bulldog even while wearing a life jacket.

Just like a child, there are still risks, and an accident could happen too quickly.

How To Teach Your Frenchy To Swim

Once your Frenchy is adequately fitted with an approved dog life jacket, you can teach them to swim assisted. 

First, allow them to get comfortable wearing it and being near the water. After they have become acquainted with their new jacket, you can coax them into the water, staying by their side. 

Once in the water and relaxed, keeping your hand on their back near the safety strap, slowly move them through the water till their little legs start moving on their own. 

As they become naturally comfortable in the water with their jacket, you can move onto working with them by swimming next to them. It will allow them to feel safe and secure in the water. Dogs are intelligent and will see that with you in the water next to them they are safe and its not something to be afraid of.

PetMD suggests actively teaching them to swim with the buddy system. By utilizing the buddy system to train, you will swim with them using a ritual approach. 

Continually praise throughout the entire session. Praise them before, during, and after the water and swim time. Always give them a treat when they exit correctly. This will also condition them to enter and exit the water safely.

PetMD also encourages teaching them to be able to enter and exit comfortably with their life jackets on by themselves. By doing this, you instill a conditioned safety around water.

Other Options To Keep A Frenchy Cool On Hot Summer Days

Caution for French Bulldogs around water is a genuine concern and should not be taken lightly. They can not properly swim and are prone to sinking. This does not mean that they can’t play with you in the water, though.

When the weather grows warmer, we also need to remember that French Bulldogs can tend to overheat more easily.

Because of their short snouts and narrow air passageways, they cant efficiently pant to regulate their body temperature as other dogs do. They already have a little struggle breathing on a typical day than most dogs.

Thankfully there are so many options for or little furry friends to stay cool. There is the kiddie pool and life jacket we mentioned. 

  • Turn on the sprinkler
  • give him a cooling scarf or jacket
  • play in a kiddie pool as long as your remain watchful

You can also turn on a sprinkler, give them plenty of water, and give them a cooling scarf or jacket. You just dip it in water and lightly wring it out.

Then attach it to your dog. Of course, as long as we take proper precautions and remain watchful, our Frenchie pets can play and enjoy the water right along with us.

Staying cool and having a blast. Frolicking and enjoy life as they should.

But Some Claim Frenchies Can Swim

There are some people who say they have seen a French Bulldog swim and may argue that they are perfectly capable. Of course, there may be possible exceptions. However on a broad scale they can not swim. This is the short answer, but that may not stop them from trying.

The first thing to note is that when they are smaller and haven’t grown into their bulky frame yet, they could have a better chance of being able to swim without sinking. Also, some more fully grown French Bulldogs may attempt swimming in short spurts.

Still, I have to remind you to use safety and caution with your Frenchies around the water. Their bodies just are not made for swimming. By all means, get them the life jacket and teach them to swim with it, but please don’t risk your pet’s life in ignorance.

Remember its all in their physics. The French Bulldog by nature is dense and top-heavy along with respiratory issues; they simply can not swim unattended.


Perhaps this is not a concern to you if you live in an air-conditioned home, and heat really is not an issue. Or maybe you live in a dry place far away from water.

Not being able to swim certainly is not a death sentence for your dog. Some people and animals spend their whole lives never being near water.

The fact is that it is just one of those things to be aware of. You can now be cautious if you ever plan to be near water with your French Bulldog. Often time fatal accidents come from a lack of understanding.

Knowledge is simply a way of preventing tragedy. So while this is not a death sentence or doomsday alert, take this knowledge and just tuck it away to utilize in caring for your pet.

French Bulldogs are lovely and happy dogs that deserve all the love and care you can give them. When it comes to it, they just want to play with you and be around you.

It is up to you to watch their back keep them safe and healthy. I promise you; they will have your back as well.

Erwin Borgers

Hi, I’m Erwin. I grew up with two cats, but I always wanted to have a dog. Since my wife and I lived together, we have Mayla. She is a very sweet King Charles Spaniel. Together we spend countless of hours in the forest near our home. We love to walk together and now I want to share what I learned about walking dogs and what I learned about dog gear with you.

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