Can German Shepherds Swim?

Can German Shepherds Swim?

If you are planning for a vacation on the beach and you are planning to be accompanied by your all-time four-legged friend, you might be wondering if he can swim.

German shepherds can swim, but since they were not bred to work in the water, you have to teach them how to swim. Some German shepherds like water while others don’t.

This article explains the physical characteristics that make a German shepherd dog an efficient swimmer, how you can introduce your GSD to swimming if he hates water, and safety measures when your GSD is swimming.


Physical Traits That Makes German Shepherd Efficient Swimmers

Long Feet

German shepherds have long feet which accommodates more muscles. The muscles provide energy and the feet allow them to swim easily.

Webbed Feet

Some GSDs have webbed feet. This increases the surface, hence allowing them to swim with ease.

Long Snout

This helps the German shepherds to breathe enough air to sustain themselves while swimming.

Double Coat

German shepherds have a double-layered coat. The outer layer prevents water from penetrating inside the body while the outer layer helps the body to retain its warmth while swimming.

Naturally Lean

GSDs are naturally lean and energetic making it easy for them to swim.

Why Do Some German Shepherd Hate Water?

Some GSDs hate water, which means they also hate swimming. German shepherds were bred specifically for herding, and they were not exposed to water in the course of their work. Therefore, they can never be natural swimmers. You have to introduce them to water bit by bit.

Tips to Make Your German Shepherd love swimming  

Not Once Should You Push Your GSD into Water

If your dog is not ready to jump into the water, do not force him. Try to play with the water and persuade him to come to join you, if he refuses just be patient and wait for another day.

Forcing your dog into water will traumatize him, this can make him hate water for the rest of his life.

Make Him Hang Around Dogs That Like Swimming

When your dog is around other dogs that like swimming, it can be easy for him to join them as part of having fun.

Buy Him a Life Vest

Your German shepherd might be scared the first time you introduce them to swimming. Buy him a life vest to be sure of his safety.

Entice him

You can throw his favorite toy in the water and see if he will go for it. You can also use treats to trick him into the water; get into the water with the treat, and call him to get it.

Praise Him 

Just like you praise him for learning a new command or for any new achievement, the same is required when training him to swim. Praising him makes him relate swimming with good memories making him swim more.

Take Him to Swimming Lessons

If you have tried all the above tactics and yet your dog fears water, take him to swimming lessons. You might find that all your dog needs is a lesson or two to boost his confidence in the water.

Use Freshwater Water for Swimming

You should not let your German shepherd swim in chlorinated or salty water. While swimming, dogs take in too much water. Salty or chlorinated water will make your dog sick. It’s advisable to let your dog swim or play in freshwater to avoid health complications.

Cautions to Take When Your German Shepherd is Swimming

Make sure the water is clean 

Even freshwater can contain bacteria that can make your dog sick. Avoid stagnant water and check if there are algae in it.

Check it’s safe

Check whether the swimming pool, river, or lake has any objects which may cause harm to your GSD. If it’s in the sea, make sure that there are no strong tides or strong currents in the river.

Don’t Let Your GSD Spend Excess Time in Chlorinated water

If your GSD swims in chlorinated water, ensure that he does not exceed thirty minutes in it. Even if your dog will not drink the water, it can cause eye irritation. Rinse your dog after swimming in chlorinated water.

No drinking

You should be alert and certain that your dog does not drink water while swimming.

Though the water might seem clean, it can be contaminated leading to stomach upsets. Give your GSD water before swimming, he will be less tempted to drink pool water.

No Swimming Immediately After Eating

Just like humans, dogs require time to relax after every meal. Making him swim immediately after eating can cause a bloated stomach.

Buy Dog Sunscreen

Make sure you have a dog sunscreen (but not for humans), or make sure he can easily access a shade.


German shepherds can swim, but there are German shepherd dogs that detest swimming. Luckily you can train a German shepherd to swim and to like water. Make sure that the water that your dog is swimming in is safe and clean. Swimming is fun and it helps you and your dog to bond.


Carol is a paw parent, and her love for dogs started when she was just 5. She adores her two German Shepherds and a Bengal cat, who she says, "life would be incomplete without"

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