Can Pugs Swim? How To Keep Your Pug Safe

Share with other Pug lovers!

Owning a dog comes with many responsibilities, and choosing a unique, purebred dog like a pug comes with its own list of considerations to give your new family member a great life. Pugs are unique creatures that must be cared for in a specific way to promote the most happiness.

But you may be wondering: can pugs swim? Like most other dogs, pugs can swim. They do so instinctively as soon as they are placed in or near a body of natural water, like the ocean or a lake, or if you are swimming in a backyard pool. Pugs will automatically do a “doggy paddle” to stay afloat while swimming.

These small dogs are priceless additions to any family with their irresistible faces and signature curly tails. However, the unique characteristics of pugs mean there are special considerations to take to make every swimming excursion a positive one for your pug. 

Can I Take My Pug Swimming?

Yes! You can take your pug swimming. Your pug, like most other dogs, will react with instinct to a body of water and will keep itself afloat initially. You will see your dog immediately initiate what we call a “doggy paddle,” or a rhythmic flapping of its arms and legs to maintain buoyancy.

can pugs swim

Why Pugs Are Worse Swimmers Than Other Dogs

While you can take your dog swimming and your pug will stay afloat, there is no way to know how long your pug will be able to stay swimming. There are a few major reasons why pugs are not natural swimmers like other dogs, and this mostly due to their unique body composition.

Short Snouts

Pugs are easily identified by their short snouts and squashed-in faces. This appearance is called Brachycephaly. This is a similar condition to many other dog breeds as well, including boxers and bulldogs, and is genetically chosen for its appearance.

Even though this appearance is intentional, it can lead to health problems for many of these dogs with brachycephaly. Pugs and other dogs with this condition find it harder to breathe than other dogs in normal conditions. 

If you add water to this, it can make it even harder to inhale effectively and the dog could be at risk of drowning. The short snout on a pug means they have to try to tilt their head vertically to prevent them from drowning. This position makes it difficult to swim and promotes a sinking pug.

Stocky Bodies

In addition to the need for a pug to keep its head above water in a near-vertical head position, pugs also have naturally short limbs connected to stocky, cylindrical bodies. This means their limbs have limited range of motion with weak, stubby limbs attempting to keep them afloat.

Despite this, can pugs swim? Their combination of body parts makes it difficult to answer this question. Pugs attempting to swim will be quickly worn out from the combination of a poorly-constructed body for water activity, and the constricted airway of a dog with brachycephaly, like a pug.

Sensitive Skin

Pugs also have sensitive skin, which can be easily irritated by a pool’s chemicals or by other substances that naturally occur in rivers, lakes, or oceans. The folds of a pug’s skin can also capture bacteria, which can lead to infections.

Lap Dog Mentality

Pugs are averse to swimming and other physical activity in general. Not all dogs that are long and short-limbed are as naturally lazy as a pug, who has more of a “lap dog mentality.”

Corgis and dachshunds are considered working dogs, who historically assisted their owners in a hunt. Pugs are toy dogs, not working ones, and prefer napping and hanging out on the couch. Pugs will tolerate short walks and other limited physical activity to stay at a healthy weight.

How to Prepare for Swimming With a Pug

To make sure you are going on a safe swimming excursion with your pug, it is important to know all the ins and outs of the question, can pugs swim? Proper safety equipment, the correct supervision, and the proper duration of exercise is important to know for a pug’s safe swim.

Safety Equipment

All pugs who want to swim must wear a safety vest at all times. Dog life vests are manufactured just for this purpose, so make sure you are purchasing the proper size and style for your pug. 

The vest should be snug and not wiggle when fastened, but should allow you to slide your hand underneath so the pug isn’t being squeezed too tight. Make sure you know the weight of your pug before you purchase a vest to make sure you have the safest option available.

can pugs swim

Life vests make the whole experience easier on this animal. The buoyancy helps keep the pug’s unique face out of the water. The safety vest will also give your pug freedom to explore by easily letting the pug’s short limbs rest when it gets tired.


A swimming pug must be under constant supervision at all times, even when wearing a life vest. A human must be watching the pug to make sure it doesn’t start to be in distress or swim into a dangerous situation. 

Duration of a Swim

It is important to not have your pug swimming for longer than ten or fifteen minutes. This length of time makes sure the pug does not experience exhaustion or difficulty breathing from too much physical activity. This length of a swim will also help prevent reactions from sensitive skin.

What to Do After Swimming With a Pug

Just like it is before swimming with a pug, it is important to take the proper steps after swimming with them too. Don’t forget to meticulously clean the folds of their skin to ensure no bacteria is hiding inside, especially if you were swimming in a natural body of water.

Pugs are a rewarding and cute family member that will enrich your life. If you decide to take your pug swimming, keep in mind their unique body composition can make this activity difficult.

However, with just a few safety precautions, swimming can be a rewarding experience for your pug. Always bring a life vest along for your pug, and limit its physical activity to no more than 15 constantly-supervised minutes.

rachael barkzine

About the author

Rachael is the co-founder and editor at Pug Facts. Owner of one elderly Pug, she’s dedicated to helping other Pug owners create healthy, happy, lives with their furry best friends.

Leave a Reply

About PugFacts

PugFacts is a small team of devoted PUG owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter
Pug Facts Guide

Expert tips, advice, and inspiration to keep your PUG healthy and happy

PugFactsGuide is a small team of devoted Pug owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your Pug! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.