Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Well Can a Maltese Swim? Facts & FAQ

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

White Maltese dog running in the water

How Well Can a Maltese Swim? Facts & FAQ

Maltese dogs were not bred to swim, so they generally aren’t known for their swimming ability. However, some Maltese dogs may enjoy being in the water to some extent, especially if introduced early. However, this breed is not a natural swimmer.

The Maltese breed has a small stature and a relatively short muzzle, making swimming more challenging for them than breeds with longer limbs and stronger swimming instincts. Their long, flowing coats can also become heavy when wet, making it more difficult for them to stay afloat.

Supervising your Maltese closely around water is always a good idea to prevent any potential mishaps. Some Maltese dogs may enjoy splashing in shallow water or wading in a pool. Still, it’s important to remember that they are not built for extensive swimming.

Can All Maltese Dogs Swim?

Not all Maltese dogs possess strong swimming abilities. Due to their small size and relatively short muzzles, Maltese dogs are not natural swimmers like some other breeds. However, individual dogs can vary; some Maltese dogs may enjoy being in the water and can swim to some extent.

It’s important to remember that swimming proficiency can differ from dog to dog, even within the same breed.

Maltese dogs are not as good at swimming as some other breeds. However, introducing them to water early can make some Maltese dogs like swimming.

Maltese dog standing in shallow water
Image Credit: G-Hep, Shutterstock

Are There Any Concerns with Maltese Dogs Swimming?

While swimming can be a fun activity for some Maltese dogs, there are specific health concerns and risks to be aware of. The Maltese breed’s small stature and short limbs can make swimming more challenging. They may tire quickly, struggle to stay afloat, or face difficulty swimming long distances.

Plus, their long, flowing coats can become heavy when wet, which may impede their ability to swim effectively. It is essential to monitor their energy levels to avoid any potential risks. These dogs are very people-oriented, so they may push themselves further than they should just because they think you want them to.

How Do You Introduce a Maltese Dog to Swimming?

Introducing Maltese to the water should be done similarly to introducing any other dog. Start by providing a shallow body of water, such as a small pool or a calm area of a lake or pond, where they can gradually become accustomed to the water.

Allow them to explore independently, using positive reinforcement, treats, and verbal praise to create a positive association with water. Always supervise them closely and ensure they can safely exit the water, such as a gently sloping ramp.

Not all dogs will like swimming. However, introducing them early and often can make the chance of them enjoying the water higher. Introduction prevents fear, which is vital for your dog to enjoy the water.

Maltese dog walking in the water with a man
Image Credit: len4foto, Shutterstock

Precautions to Take When Swimming with Your Maltese

Because Maltese dogs weren’t made to swim, there are many precautions you should take. The fact is that these dogs are more prone to water-related injury thanks to their long hair and shortened snout. If you want them to be around water, you must take precautions.

  • Safety: If your Maltese will be near deep water or if you have a pool, consider using a dog life jacket specifically designed for their size. This will provide buoyancy and increase their safety while swimming.
  • Avoid Strong Currents: Be cautious of swimming in areas with strong currents, as they can pose a risk to small dogs like Maltese. Choose calmer waters where the risk of being swept away is minimal.
  • Monitor Temperature: Keep an eye on the water temperature to prevent your Maltese from getting too cold or overheating. Frigid water can cause hypothermia, while excessively hot water can lead to heatstroke.
  • Prevent Ingestion: If your Maltese dog swims in a pool, ensure they don’t drink the chlorinated water. Chlorine can irritate their stomach and lead to digestive issues. Rinse your dog with clean water to remove chemicals from their coat after swimming.

Can Maltese Dogs Safely Swim?

If you take the proper precautions, you can let your Maltese swim safely. While Maltese dogs may not excel in activities requiring extensive swimming, they can still enjoy water-based activities. For instance, supervised playtime in shallow water, wading in a pool, or walking on the shoreline can be enjoyable for them.

Plus, you can engage in activities like water fetching with floating toys to provide them with exercise and mental stimulation. If your Maltese dog likes to swim, there is nothing particularly wrong with letting them enjoy the water.

However, don’t expect them to be as athletic in the water as Labrador Retrievers or similar breeds.

maltese dog walking on seashore
Image Credit: suju-foto, Pixabay

Signs of Distress in the Water

You must keep an eye on your Maltese when they’re swimming and step in if they show any signs of distress. These signs include:

  • Excessive Panting: If your Maltese is panting heavily while swimming, it could indicate that they are exerting themselves or feeling overwhelmed. Take breaks and allow them to rest if they appear excessively tired.
  • Difficulty Swimming: If your Maltese is struggling to keep their head above water or seems to be sinking, likely, they are not comfortable in their swimming abilities. Consider using a life jacket to provide additional buoyancy and support.
  • Unwillingness: If your Maltese shows signs of fear or reluctance to enter the water, such as trembling, quivering, or attempting to escape, it’s essential to respect their discomfort and not force them to swim. Not all dogs enjoy water activities, and it’s crucial to prioritize their well-being and comfort. No matter what you do, some Maltese will simply not like swimming.
  • Exhaustion: Maltese dogs are not built for strenuous physical activities like long-distance swimming. If your dog becomes excessively tired after a short period in the water, it’s essential to let them rest and avoid pushing them beyond their limits.
  • Panic: If your Maltese starts whimpering, yelping, or exhibiting signs of distress vocally while swimming, it indicates they are uncomfortable in the water. In such cases, it’s crucial to assist them to safety immediately.

Final Thoughts

Maltese are not necessarily made for swimming, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy swimming occasionally. These canines may like the water if they are introduced at an early age and regularly taken to swim. However, some Maltese will simply never like the water—no matter how many introductions you give them.

Therefore, it’s important not to push these canines if they don’t like swimming. And, if your dog seems to like swimming, take precautions to ensure their safety.

Featured Image Credit: len4foto, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.