Do Pitbulls Like Water – Can Pitbulls Swim?

When the weather is right, it is natural to want to take your Pitbull out for a swim.

But, there is the question of can Pitbulls swim and do Pitbulls like water? They are not Labradors of course, who are well-known for their love of swimming.

Can Pitbulls Swim

We are going to breakdown what can hinder a Pitbull from learning to swim and what you can do to help turn your dog into a swimmer.

There are a lot of factors that affect a dog’s ability to swim, from their natural inclination and breeding to their body types and feelings of safety.


Dog breeds exist because humans have focused in on some key skills and elements and made sure that when dogs were bred, they get to keep those elements.

The Pitbull was bred for bullbaiting and dog fighting. Neither of these things require swimming.

This is different that retrievers who are bred for the purpose of retrieving waterfowl from bodies of water when hunting.

Pitbulls are really made to run on land and are not built to swim. Since Pitbulls were not made for any kind of water movement, their bodies were not made to do it well.

They do not have a natural inclination for hopping in water and swimming around at it.

Can Pitbulls swim? Well of course, with some patience and attention. Can Pitbulls swim naturally? No they really cannot.

It is not in their breeding or in their DNA. But that does not mean that you cannot teach a Pitbull to swim and have a good time in the water.

Do Pitbulls Like Water

The stroke might be called the doggy paddle, but it does not mean that it inherent for all dogs.

Certain breeds have adaptations that make them better equipped for the water. These dogs are slender with long noses.

Their weight is evenly distributed as well and their feet even have webbing between the toes, making it much easier to propel through the water.

Webbed feet are not necessary to be able to swim well, but, just like waterfowl, webbed feet certainly help animals swim efficiently.

But Pitbulls are not one of those breeds, unfortunately, so swimming is not an innate ability.

Even if a dog is not physically built for swimming, that does not mean that they cannot swim or cannot learn how to swim. There are obstacles still to think about, however.

Body Type

When asking “can Pitbulls swim,” one of the major factors that goes into the answer for this is that it can be really hard for them because of their body type.

Pitbulls are known for their muscular, stout bodies. While it might make them seem more athletic to some, the fact is that muscle weighs more than fat does.

Since Pitbulls have such a high amount of muscle in their bodies, they are not very buoyant in the water.

Pitbulls are also not tall dogs and have rather short legs. Short legs means that the dog will have to work harder to swim, as compared to dogs with long legs.

Pitbull Swimming

Of course, they are not a short breed, but their legs are short enough to be concerning.

Pitbulls generally do not have the ability to stay afloat for a long period for time, because they will fatigue quickly. Working so hard to stay afloat with short legs is completely exhausting.

Also, Pitbulls have wide chests, so they are about as wide as they are tall. It is really challenging for a Pitbull to stay totally afloat while working with short legs and a heavy, wide body.

Additionally, Pitbulls have a short, single coat that allows them to stay cool in summer, but if they jump in the cold water in any other type of weather, they will lose too much body heat too quickly.

Water dogs have double coats to insulate their bodies from cold water.

Head Size And Shape

Pitbulls have an easily recognizable head shape that can be endearing. When wondering whether Pitbulls can swim, however, their head size and shape is a big reason why it is hard for them.

Pitbulls have large heads with wide mouths. When a dog swims, he has to keep his head above the water the entire time to perform the well-known doggy paddle.

With their body shape and four legs, dogs do not have the same capabilities in the water as humans do.

Since their heads are so large and heavy, it is really hard to keep them above the water while swimming.

Can Pitbull Swim

Also head-related is the fact that Pitbulls are brachycephalic dogs. This means that they have a short snout and a short skull.

Since they have to keep their heads up for swimming, their oxygen supply will be reduced because of their brachycephaly.

Some Pitbulls do not have brachycephaly, as it depends on their own genetic makeup, but it is still something to watch out for.

The downside of brachycephalic dogs in the water is that with a shorter snout, they have to lift their heads even higher above the water while swimming, and given the added weight of their heads because of their immense head size, it can be really difficult for Pitbulls to swim successfully.

Do Pitbulls Like Swimming

Since we have addressed whether Pitbulls can swim, let’s look at whether they actually like it.

Before considering this as a good activity for your dog, you will need to work out whether he will have a good time swimming or not.

The short answer is that it depends. While a Pitbull might have more trouble than some other breeds when swimming, not all Pitbulls have any trouble swimming at all.

When a Pitbull does not like to swim, he will sink when placed in a pool or he will desperately try to get out.

That said, there are still plenty of Pitbulls out there who like to swim. A Pitbull’s enjoyment of swimming has more to do with their own feelings as individual dogs rather than on a breed-level like some of the other breeds are.

At the very least, Pitbulls will like to stand and wade in shallow water and splash around for fun. They also enjoy chasing sprinklers, but swimming is different than a little bit of water place.

Why Would A Pitbull Like The Water?

If a Pitbull is really enthusiastic about the water, the question would be why?

Why would a dog who is not naturally in-tune with water like the water at all? It has to do with the general personality of the breed.

Pitbulls, as a rule, are pretty fearless with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Water may make them feel bolder and brave and, if we are being honest, it is a lot of fun to play in.

Pitbulls can be impulsive, so they will not hesitate to hop into water if there is an excuse to do so.

Pitbulls And Swimming

That is why it is all the more important that you teach your Pitbull to swim and that you keep your dog safe around the water.

Pitbulls love to have fun whenever they can which might mean that when they are near a body of water, they decide to take a hop without thinking it through.

Their enthusiastic personality will allow them to not just chase sprinklers, but play in the waves at the beach too and the water can help keep them cool on hot summer day.

Not all Pitbulls are going to love the water, but if you have a fearless pup, you will need to train him to be safe in the water.

Can You Teach A Pitbull To Swim?

If your Pitbull has a deep fear of water, as some dogs do, then you should not try to teach your Pitbull to swim.

Do not try to push the issue on a reluctant dog. While it could be challenging to teach a Pitbull how to swim, it is not impossible.

The best thing to do to help a Pitbull to learn to swim is introduce him to the water slowly. If done too fast their will have a fear response and be uncooperative.

The breed is known well to be wilful and stubborn as well as intelligent, so if you force swimming before trying a gentler approach, the results will not be what you had in mind.

Life Vest

You can still try to teach your dog to swim, just do it slowly. The first thing to do is to get a life jacket made for dogs.

As we know, a dog who is stressed out will sink like a rock rather than be subjected to it. Make sure that it is a high-quality life vest.

Pitbull And Water

A life vest can help in two ways during the swim lessons. It can help reassure you that your dog is not going to drown, and it can help your dog become more comfortable in the water.

Your dog might also have a feeling that he cannot swim so the life vest is just a good way to let him know that he is ok.

It is important to make sure that it is a high-quality material with good buoyancy and that the life vest is a good fit specifically for Pitbulls.

Since Pitbulls have large, deep chests, the life jacket will need to be able to fit snugly around their chests and not slip up over their heads.

You will want to look for a life jacket that has adjustable straps to help get a customized fit.

You should also make sure that the life jacket has handles. This might seem funny but having a way to grab onto your dog to help hoist him out of the water will be incredibly helpful.

Finally, you need to make sure that the life jacket is a very bright color. Seeing a Pitbull in the water is difficult if it is just a plain life jacket.

They do not all have the same-coloured coats, but they all are very easy to blend in with water. Make sure that the life vest has a neon color with reflective patches.

The colors can be green, yellow, or orange to really pop in the water, though red is also a common color to see.

Don’t Throw Your Dog In

Do not try to just toss your dog in the water. You should introduce your Pitbull to the water as young as possible before the dog has had a chance to really develop fear.

For the first introduction, start with a bathtub or a kiddie pool. These are both controlled spaces where the risk of drowning isn’t there and your pup will get a chance to really splash around in the water and have a good time.

You should do this several times so that the water is now a positive thing inside of your dog’s mind.

Once your dog is used to the water, you can take him where you were hoping to take him swimming before you really go.

For example, if you are hoping to take your dog to swim in a lake, take him to the shore and let him explore. He will likely want to smell the water and may even try to get his feet wet.

If you can get your dog to play in the water, that is great, but don’t push it. He may not be ready yet to get into the water to swim.

Never try to convince your Pitbull or even force him to go into the water. That will create a bad association for your dog and getting him to swim will be an uphill battle.

Time To Get In The Water

The best way to ensure that your dog is feeling safe in the water and truly get him swimming is for you to get in the water with your Pitbull.

If you show the dog that it is safe, then your dog is more likely to believe that swimming is ok.

Teaching Pitbull Swim

Start in the shallow end of a pool or along the shore of a lake and take your dog with you. You might want to call to your dog from the water.

Make sure that you are using only a happy voice and are really encouraging the entire time. Positive reinforcement is always the key.

If you seem irritated and angry, your dog is not going to trust that you are actually safe. Positive reinforcement means treats, pets, and general “good boy,” kind of language.

In the shallow end with the life vest on, start to move your dog to the point where he is floating and not standing on the bottom.

Allow him to get the feel of how his legs should feel and naturally move around in the water.

Gradually, you can pull your dog into the deeper waters with you. Do not push your dog to do that, however.

Make sure that you follow your dog’s cues and what he is feeling safe with. Pitbulls are smart and empathetic. They will adjust themselves to your feelings and the positive reinforcement.

When your Pitbull begins to feel more confident, his skills will improve as will his confidence.

You may need to keep the life vest on him for safety, but you may find that your dog loves the water and find that Pitbulls do like water.

Keep an eye out for exhaustion with your dog as well. Swimming is a workout, even more so for a Pitbull than other breeds, and exhaustion is going to make it much harder to get your dog out of the water.

You should also make sure that you supervise your Pitbull the entire time that he is in the water.

Even if you are not swimming with your dog, keep an eye on him. Since they are not naturally made for swimming, keeping them safe is essential and since Pitbulls are big and heavy, they really need constant supervision and a life jacket is not a substitute for supervision, so please do not assume that your Pitbull will be just fine.

Swimming Can Be Hard For Pitbulls

Ultimately, swimming can be hard for Pitbulls. Rather than asking do Pitbulls like water or can Pitbulls swim, you can easily say that it really varies from dog to dog.

You can teach your Pitbull to swim and, when introduced early, you can encourage your dog to like water.

The important thing to remember is that you cannot force a Pitbull to swim. They will pick up on any negativity that you are putting into the exercise and will be far more resistant to swim.

As is the same with humans, a panicked dog is more likely to drown.

Be patient with your Pitbull, approach swimming slowly, and follow your dog’s lead.

If swimming is important to you, your Pitbull can learn to enjoy it provided that you are patient enough to allow him to learn in his own time.


Hi there, my name is Blake and I have an American Bully named Rocky. I fell in love with the breed around ten years ago after seeing some of my friends adopt a Bully. I love the combination of the muscular physique and calm, loyal companionship that the American Bully breed has to offer. My enthusiasm for the breed has led me to train as a dog behavioralist and trainer. Over the last ten years, I have supported many households in raising their American Bully and maximizing the potential of the breed. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and expertise on this site.

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