Can Poodles Swim?

If you have questioned whether a poodle can swim well or even at all, then you have come to the right place. Here, I will give a conclusive answer to this question.

Poodles can swim very well. This breed is ranked among some of the top dog breeds capable of swimming. The poodle was originally bred to be a water retriever. Certain aspects of the poodle, like the paws and coat, makes them prone to be good swimmers.

If you want to know more about what makes poodles such great swimmers and how this applies to your own poodle, then read on. I will also discuss how to introduce your poodles to the water and give them the chance to shine as swimmers.

Poodles and Swimming

Poodles were originally bred to be water retrievers. “Poodle” comes from the German word, Pudeln, which means to splash.

It just makes sense that they would naturally be great swimmers with a name like that.

As is the case with any animal breeding, certain aspects are sought after while breeding a dog for a specific purpose. Mixing together different physical traits is a large part of dog breeding.

Although it is argued whether the standard poodle comes from Germany or France, we can say with clarity that the dog comes from Europe.

The purpose behind the dog breeding for a poodle was for duck hunting. That is why the poodle’s tail is shaped in such a unique way. With the pom-pom looking fur at the top of the poodle’s tail, a hunter is able to see a poodle no matter where it is in the water.

Another physical trait that poodles developed that made them the best water retrievers they could be was: their webbed feet.

Any animal trying to live in or be in the water with any resembling a foot requires those feet to be webbed. Because the poodles have webbed feet, they are able to swim well. All dogs have some degree of webbing, but the poodle has more than the average dog.

The paws being webbed acts like paddles in the water.

Another physical trait that was given to poodles is their fur coat. This is one of the most noticeable traits of a poodle.

Unlike many other dogs, a poodle has a single layer of fur coat. Many other dogs have double layers. However, the poodle’s coat is very dense and is therefore easier to swim with.

Although the standard poodle has been discussed up until this point, this information applies to toy poodles and miniature poodles as well.

Because those breeds are coming from the standard poodle, they also have the same traits that will make them great swimmers.

From the time where poodles were bred, they were designed to swim well.

When placed in water, most poodles will do very well. However, that is not the case for every poodle.

How Does This Apply to Your Poodle?

Because poodles have these amazing features that make them great swimmers, they are very likely to fall in love with swimming.

Although the typical dog that we associate with jumping a pond or river is a golden retriever or lab, poodles love the water just as much.

Despite their outer appearance seeming more elegant and refined, these dogs are naturals in the water. Poodles do not shy away from the water when they are given the chance to.

However, the rule that no one person is alike is applicable to poodles. Every dog will be different. Just because it is in the dog’s genes to swim, does not mean they will want to dive in the water.

“Fetching the ball out of the water is Romeo’s favorite, but he doesn’t like the deep water. If he can’t feel the bottom he won’t swim. That’s where Brandy comes in. She is my swimmer and when the ball in thrown into the water too far, I just tell her to save the ball and she swims out to save it.”

Poodle Forum

As seen from this above quote, two poodles within the same family will react very differently to the water.

Although one dog does not have any more swimming traits than the other, their ability to swim in water is very different. The desires are different also.

It may be easiest to simply say your dog has it in them to swim, but that is not what is safest.

Most dogs, when placed in water will naturally move their legs to keep themselves up. However, not every dog knows what to do from there. Many dogs will not even move forward.

If you are worried about your dog being able to swim, then all you need to do is simply expose your dog to the water.

How to Train your Poodle to Swim

If you want to ensure that your poodle is able to swim to the best of the capabilities, then there are a few steps to take to get your poodle looking like a pro.

1. Expose your Dog to the Water

The first step to getting your dog swimming is so simple.

Take your dog for walks on the beach or by a river or lake. Let your dog dip their paw in the water. Make sure your dog is familiar with the sight and sound of water.

You don’t need to immediately place the dog in the water. Just make sure they know it’s there. This way, they will be more familiar and less scared of water.

2. Start off in the Shallow Water

The deeper water is not only more intimidating to your dog, but it is less familiar.

Steer away from deep water in the beginning. Allow your dog to feel the ground at the same time as being in the water.

Also try to stay away from currents, as that will make it more difficult to swim.

By taking this step, your dog will become comfortable with the feeling of water, while still standing on solid ground.

3. Guide Your Dog into the Water

To do this step, you will need to get in the water yourself. Getting into the water makes your dog feel more comfortable and confident. You simply have to go out in the deeper section of water and call out for your dog.

With your presence, your dog should be more comfortable with going into the water.

“My dog only wants to go into the water when I’m in the water. It’s not as much for her as it is to be with me. If your dog is social, they will likely see your presence in the water as a reward”.

4. Train the Same as You Would on Dry Land

The same rules apply when training your dog how to swim that do when teaching your dog any trick on solid ground. You need to practice patience and love.

While your dog is swimming, make sure to give the dog lots of praise through each step.


If you have a dog who is very timid with the water, a good tip to help them is to allow them to be around other dogs who love water swimming around.

Eventually, the dog will notice that water is not as scary as it seems at first glance.


These steps will take different amounts of time for each dog. For some dogs, they will be eager to dive in the second the see water.

For other dogs, it will take time and encouragement to get your dog swimming. Do not push your dog’s boundaries to where it becomes unsafe.

Just like with humans, there are dog drowning incidents. If your dog goes into a panic while in the water, you may need to take things extremely slow.

There are doggy life vests available if you want to cautious.

No matter what happens with your swimming training, just remember to love your poodle. They are by your side no matter what. Give them that same courtesy.

Marryn Jenkins

I am a long time pet lover. There has always been a soft spot in my heart for dogs. Although I have owned many dog breeds in my lifetime, poodles have become my favorite. I have a standard poodle, Sally, and a miniature poodle, Luna. With my experience owning poodles, I am here to help you learn all about this wonderful dog breed.

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