Can Pitbulls Swim?

If you have recently adopted or are planning to adopt a Pitbull, you might wonder whether a Pitbull can swim, owing to all the misconceptions around this subject.

Pitbulls can swim. Some Pitbulls may find it difficult to swim, but they can swim without any issues.

They may even enjoy swimming, especially if you spend time with your Pitbull exercising in the water.

Are Pitbulls considered good swimmers?

Pitbulls are not considered to be good swimmers. This does not mean that Pitbulls can’t swim, but rather, Pitbulls are not very good swimmers as compared to other breeds.

There are a lot of reasons why Pitbulls may find it difficult to swim.

Why is it difficult for Pitbulls to swim?

Breeding history

The Pitbull was originally bred for bull-baiting. This vicious sport required a dog that was extremely strong and energetic.

Therefore, the breeding focused on increasing the body mass of the dogs. This resulted in dogs that had strong muscles, wide jaws, fleshy noses, and short tails.

All these characteristics, while good for fighting purposes, don’t do so well when it comes to swimming.

Muscular body

Pitbulls have a very muscular build. All the major Pitbull types of dogs rank among the top for having the most muscular bodies.

This lean muscled body was necessary for the job they were essentially bred for bull-baiting.

How does having a muscular body prove to be disadvantageous while swimming? Muscle is much denser than fat.

Therefore, a dog with a muscular body will have a more difficult time staying afloat than a dog that has a body comprising prominently of fats.

A dog with more fats will have difficulty trying to swim, but a dog with more muscles will have difficulty just staying afloat.

Large heads

Pitbulls have large heads. They are known especially for their large heads which look bigger compared to the rest of the body.

Due to this large head, these dogs need a C-section procedure while giving birth. This is common among breeds that have a wider head and a narrower pelvis.

This large head can be a problem when it comes to swimming, as a large head means a heavy one.

When dogs swim, they need to keep their heads above the water, as dogs are very limited in movement as compared to humans.

Lifting a large head and trying to keep it above the water takes a lot of energy and muscle power, which is difficult to keep up for a long time.

Short snouts

Dogs with a shorter snout may find it more difficult to breathe, and it can be a problem in the water.

A short snout is also the reason why Pitbull snores and snorts. There is less room for oxygen to move in and out of their noses.

Due to this, Pitbulls can find it a struggle to breathe in the water. Also, they will find it difficult to keep their noses above water to breathe while swimming.

This is why short snouts can prove detrimental to Pitbulls when it comes to swimming.

Short legs

Shorter legs make it harder to paddle in the water. One of the defining characteristics of a Pitbull is its relatively short legs.

Sometimes, the legs are also thinner when compared to the rest of the body, although it depends on individual dogs.

Having short legs does not mean that Pitbulls will always be bad at swimming. However, they will be at a disadvantage when it comes to swimming.

Sturdy breeds with shorter legs do not have the thrust to keep them afloat for a long time.

They will need to expend a lot of energy on paddling to stay afloat, which could make them exhausted much sooner.

Short necks

Pitbulls have short and powerful necks. They are able to hold on to their grip even while they are being flung away.

However, this short neck can be a problem while swimming. There is not a lot of space between the water and a Pitbull’s head when it is trying to swim while keeping its head above the water.

It becomes even more difficult for the Pitbull to swim if there is a chop or waves in the water.

Short single coat

Pitbulls have a single coat with very short hair.

Unlike dogs with double or long coats that are much better suited to the cold water, the coat of a Pitbull is not very suitable for water during colder seasons.

The single coat means that Pitbulls can lose a lot of body heat in the water.


Some dogs like Labrador retrievers or poodles have large feet with webbing between the pads that help them move through the water easily.

On the other hand, Pitbulls have paws designed for gripping into the dirt.

They have well-defined toes and hard nails without any webbing, made for walking without slipping on rough terrains.

So, while Pitbulls can wade through water, they are not very good at it.

Cropping and docking

A lot of Pitbull owners, even today, crop their dog’s ears and dock their tails. Both ear-cropping and tail-docking make it harder for Pitbulls to swim in the water.

Even uncropped ears of a Pitbull are not very suitable for the water. Dogs that are designed to go in the water and be good swimmers have droopy ears that cover their ear canals.

A Pitbull’s ears are always exposed, and even the tiniest splash can get into the ear and cause irritation to the dog, or even possible ear infections.

Dogs use their tails as a rudder to steer in the water. For example, a Labrador’s tail is so muscular and wide that it is often referred to as an otter’s tail.

This type of tail makes it easier to paddle and steer through the water.

With docked tails, Pitbulls cannot use them like other dogs. They have no means to control their movements and directions in the water.

While a docked tail doesn’t mean that they can’t swim, it does mean that Pitbulls cannot easily steer in the water.

Why do Pitbulls Attack their Owners?

Do Pitbulls like the water?

Just because Pitbulls are not the greatest swimmers does not mean that they don’t enjoy the water.

Even so, it will depend on the individual dog. Make sure not to pressure your dog into going near water if it does not wish to.

Benefits of swimming

Your Pitbull can benefit greatly from swimming. Not only is it a way to channelize its energy, but it can also help keep it in shape. 

Swimming also helps prevent or delay the onset of arthritis, alleviates arthritic pain in old age, helps your dog recover faster from surgeries, and keeps it healthy and fit.

Swimming also improves blood circulation, better skin, and fur, prevents obesity, promotes digestion, and improves balance and coordination.

However, make sure that like everything else, swimming is not overdone.

It could lead to ear infections or skin diseases, so consult a doctor before letting a Pitbull swim, especially in pools, which contain chlorine.

Chlorinated water can turn Pitbull eyes Red.

How to teach your Pitbull to swim?

Here are a few ways to help teach your Pitbull to swim.

Know the water

Make sure you know the temperature of the water.

Very cold water can cause a muscle strain injury in Pitbulls. Ensure that the water and air temperature is at least 100-degree Farhenheit when combined.

Also, do not let your dog drink from just any body of water, especially lakes and oceans. If the water has algae, it is an indication to keep your pet on the land.

Practice in the shallow end

Pitbulls should be taught to swim in the shallow end to help them adapt to the water. Once they are comfortable enough, they can be gradually moved to the deep end.

Keep in mind not to force it on the Pitbull, as these dogs were bred to stay on land.

Use Life jacket

Every dog is different. Therefore, every dog will need a life-jacket suited to its unique size and form.

Recommended Pitbull Jacket – Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket

There are some important things to take into consideration while choosing a life jacket for your Pitbull.

Things to look for in a good life jacket

Here are a few things that you should look for in a Life Jacket for Pitbull.

Fit and Size

It is important for the life-jacket to fit the dog correctly. Make sure you measure your dog’s height, weight, and size correctly before getting a life jacket.

Make sure it is not loose enough that your dog will slip out of it, but comfortable enough that it has space to breathe and move around in the jacket.

Preferably, go for products that have multiple adjustment points.


Buoyancy is the most important factor in a life jacket. Ensure that you choose a life jacket with a floating material that will do its job in keeping your pet afloat properly.

For a Pitbull, it is recommended that you look for a vest that will offer floatation aid under the chin, which will help keep its head comfortable.


When your pet is in the water, it should be visible. Make sure that you find products that come in bright, vivid colors that will easily stand out in the water.

Some life jackets also come with reflective features that aid in improving visibility in low-light conditions.

Emergency rescue features

If a dog gets in the water and has difficulty coming up, you need a life jacket with an easy way to lift it up.

Look for vests that have permanent straps in the right places and are durable.

Getting a life jacket and taking all safety measurements still does not guarantee complete safety.

Make sure never to leave your dog alone without supervision while swimming.

Post-swim care

After a swimming session, give your Pitbull a good clean bath to clear the skin and fur of chlorine from the pool or salt deposits from the ocean.

You can also moisturize its skin with suitable products, which would also help it sleep well.

Enjoying the water

Just because your dog can’t or does not want to swim doesn’t mean that it can’t enjoy the water.

Shallow water and water equipment

Pitbulls who love water will love wading through shallow water and playing with water equipment such as sprinklers and water hoses.

You can get a dog-friendly kid-sized pool for your Pitbull to have fun in, without any risks of swimming involved.

Also, you can also invest in water sprinklers that can be activated by the dog itself. You can also play with the water hose for some fun time with your Pitbull.