Dachshunds are tiny bundles of energy. They are very friendly and playful dogs. They can’t bear extreme heat. The best way to cool off in the heat is to go for a swim, but can dachshunds swim at all?
Yes. Dachshunds can swim and they can be taught to swim.
However, because of their origins, they are not naturally made for swimming. And due to their body structure, it can be an exhausting activity for them.
Why are dachshunds not naturally good swimmers?
Dachshunds were never meant to be water dogs. They were bred to hunt badgers.
That is why all their traits are tailored for badger-hunting. Badgers live on land and under the soil. Dachshunds are good on land and great at burrowing and barking.
Dachshunds are known for their long bodies and are famously called “hot dogs” for this very reason. Their elongated bodies coupled with short legs are not ideal for swimming.
When a long body is combined with short legs, these dogs are closer to the ground. In the same way, in the water, they are closer to the water.
This means that they will always have to keep their head above water while swimming, which would be a difficult task.
Dachshunds have short and stubby legs. This is called dwarfism. Short legs are not the best to help a dog propel through the water.
Short legs alone do not make a dog a bad swimmer. The Welsh Corgi too has short legs, but it is a good swimmer thanks to its powerful thighs.
Dachshunds, however, have short legs and tiny thighs, which are not very helpful in the water.
Do dachshunds like the water?
Whether or not dachshunds like water depends on the individual dachshund, and how they have been introduced to it.
The way their earliest experiences have been with water will determine if they love or hate the water. This is true for all dogs out there. Even if the dog is or isn’t bred for swimming, it will still depend on every individual dog.
How to introduce your dachshund to the water?
Start at an early age
If possible, start getting your dachshund used to the water when it is still a puppy. If it is familiar with the water from a young age, it might be more comfortable with swimming as it grows older. It might even start liking swimming more.
Get it familiarized with water
Getting your dachshund familiarized with water doesn’t involve getting it into the water at all. Instead, just introduce it to water bodies from afar.
Expose your pet to the sea, rivers, and lakes, without getting it into the water. It is merely to let it know that such water bodies exist and they are nothing to be afraid of.
Get familiar with the way these water bodies look, feel, and smell. This will make your dachshund comfortable with water and might even want to try it out.
Start with the shallow end
You should start by getting your dachshund in the shallow part of the pool first, instead of going straight to the swimming part.
Let it enjoy the water on its own before the pressure of swimming sets in. Once it starts enjoying the water, it might start swimming on its own.
Fill a bath or a kiddie pool with lukewarm water just enough that your dachshund can stand properly. Encourage it to move towards you when you call out its name.
If it is happily moving towards you and enjoying it, you can fill in some more water just so that its feet are lifted off the ground, but it is still able to touch the ground if need be.
Check its reaction to seeing if it is trying to paddle or is getting scared. If it is trying to swim, you can keep your hand under its belly to support it while it swims slowly.
Make sure you are always there supervising. If it tries to swim, praise it and reward it later. If it is not enjoying it, get it out of the pool immediately.
Increase the depth
If your dachshund was happy in the water, you can progress to the deeper waters, like an actual swimming pool.
The swimming pool is an ideal place for a dachshund, as it needs a contained space. The sea will always be too strong for a tiny dachshund, as it is not a natural swimmer.
Get someone to help you as you hold your dachshund in your arms while you walk around in the water. If your pet gets distressed, get someone to take it out. Do not force your dachshund to swim.
Your dog might get used to the water when you do this process a few times. However, if it always feels upset, do not keep trying to make it swim.
Get in with your dachshund
Once your dog starts paddling in the water comfortably, join it in the water. This will encourage it to keep swimming, and you and your dachshund will have a good bonding experience.
It will even become more confident once it sees you right there with it, doing the same activity.
Call out to your dachshund
Once you are both in the water, you can get someone in the water with you to hold on to your dachshund while you call out to it from a distance.
Your dog will try to paddle towards you. Let it swim, while having another person be there by its side, holding on gently.
Start with a small distance, increasing it gradually.
Keep a close watch
Even if your dog is an expert swimmer, never let it swim without supervision. Always be around to keep a watch.
Dachshunds are not made for swimming, and accidents can happen. Make sure you are always there on hand.
Give it time
Be patient. Your dachshund will need time to adjust to the water, so make sure that you are not pressuring it.
You can incorporate positive reinforcements like rewards and treats, or invite other dog parents and their furry friends over.
No matter what, do not force your dachshund into the water, and if it will just not get adjusted to it, make peace with that and don’t try it over and over.
Important things to remember
Get a life-jacket
Dachshunds are tiny dogs and will get tired quite easily in the water. It might not be possible to know the exact moment that your dog has become exhausted.
So, it is better to make your dachshund wear a life jacket while going in the water. This way, even if it wants to stop swimming and you are not very close by, it can float to the surface until you reach it to take it out of the water.
Choosing the right life-jacket
Getting the right life jacket for your dachshund is important.
The life-jacket must float with your dachshund in it. It should fit your pet properly. This is a task as dachshunds can be quite small, but there are a lot of options available.
While the life-jacket should fit well, it should also have space for your dachshund to move. It should not be very constricting. It should be tight enough that your dachshund is strapped inside securely, but not tight enough that it feels suffocated.
The jacket should be strong enough to withstand some wear and tear. It is preferable to have adjustable straps so that it becomes easier to fit your dachshund.
A life jacket with handles is also a better choice, for you to grip on to pull your dog out of the water.
To get your dachshund used to wearing a life jacket, put it on him while in the house or any familiar place. You can get it wet in the kiddie pool or bathe while wearing it so that it knows its purpose of it.
Keep the sessions short
Do not plan intensive swimming sessions with your dachshund. It is not made for swimming, so keep your sessions short. Do not let it get too tired in the water, or it might not want to go in the water again.
Swimming is great for dachshunds, but these tiny dogs can get tired very easily. Just as you are keeping your sessions short, make sure to take plenty of breaks during each session.
As you see your dachshund starting to feel exhausted, take it out of the water to relax for a while.
Do not force your dachshund
This is the most important thing. Do not forget that a dachshund is not genetically wired to be a swimming dog, so this experience might not be as fun for your dog as you would want it to be.
Do not keep forcing your dachshund if it is not comfortable in the water.
Keep the water temperature optimal
Keep the temperature of the water as neutral as possible. Water that is too hot or too cold can result in your dachshund having a bad experience with water and might never want to get in the water again.
Dachshunds can also easily get cold in the water. So, it is important to test the water before getting it into the water.
Not only the temperature of the water, but the outside temperature once your dog gets out of the pool will also make a difference.
Keep a clean, dry towel on hand to pat your dachshund dry once it gets out.
Is swimming good for dachshunds?
Swimming may not be the best activity for a dachshund, who is bred for land, but nonetheless, swimming has its benefits.
Swimming helps in weight loss without putting weight on the joints or the spine. It burns more calories than walking, so it is a good form of exercise.
Swimming also strengthens your dachshund’s muscles and the health of its heart and lungs. It enhances metabolism and provides good circulation.
If your dog has any back problems or injuries, swimming is excellent to help in recovery. It strengthens muscles, joints and promotes blood flow.
Swimming does not need your dachshund to bear weight on its spine, which helps them exercise without stressing out the spine.