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How Well Can a Mastiff Swim? Facts & Water Safety Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

dogue de bordeaux sitting on a pier on a lake

How Well Can a Mastiff Swim? Facts & Water Safety Tips

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to provide your dog with proper care, which includes a good diet, grooming, training, and exercise. Mastiffs don’t have intense exercise requirements, and it’s important to look after their joints, which makes swimming seem like a great option. But how well can Mastiffs swim?

Typically, Mastiffs are not natural swimmers because they were never bred as water dogs. They also have large, heavy bodies that may make it more difficult. However, their legs and bodies are strong, and they can learn to swim, provided they get early and proper training.

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Can Mastiffs Swim?

The simple answer is yes. Mastiffs can swim if they receive consistent training when they are puppies. They were not originally bred to swim like the Poodle or Portuguese Water Dog, so they were not born with the natural abilities to swim. Any dog that learns to swim as a puppy and is correctly trained can grow to be an amazing swimmer.

Some Mastiffs may not enjoy the water, which is also an essential factor in whether or not they can swim. Apart from drinking water, they are not typically the biggest lovers of water as far as swimming is concerned. Therefore, even if trained to swim, they will most likely swim out of necessity rather than desire.

Depending on your Mastiffs personality and temperament, it may take some time to get used to being water.

dogue de bordeaux dog swimming in water
Image Credit: ElenaYakimova, Shutterstock

How Well Can Mastiffs Swim?

How well a Mastiff can swim will depend on how much training it has gone through. Some Mastiffs can become strong swimmers if they are trained adequately and consistently from a young age. For a Mastiff to be an efficient swimmer, it will require training since they were not bred with the natural ability to swim like other water dog breeds. Other breeds that were bred for swimming typically have the right body size and coat; some have webbed feet to make swimming more efficient. A Mastiff was bred to be a guardian and has a large, powerful body.

However, it can be highly beneficial to teach your Mastiff to swim. It can provide them with great exercise and ensure they are safe if they fall into a large body of water. You can train your Mastiff to know the basics of swimming, or you can put more time and effort into training it to become a strong swimmer.

How to Teach Your Mastiff to Swim (5 Tips)

If you want your Mastiff to be an efficient swimmer, follow these tips.

1. Start training your Mastiff as early as possible.

The sooner they get introduced to water, the more accustomed it will be.

2. A plastic kiddie pool is a great place to start since it is small, safe, and not very intimidating.

The water is not so deep, so your pup can get used to it slowly without associating fear and discomfort from being submerged in deep water. Start slowly, and don’t force your pup into the water. Allow it to enter on its own terms, with a little encouragement. As your Mastiff grows more confident, you can slowly increase the amount of water.

3. You can start by throwing your puppy’s favorite toy into the water.

That way, you can also gauge how resistant and cautious your pup is to the water. Climb in the water with your Mastiff to help it feel more confident and safe, and try to engage in a game of fetch.

4. As you make the water deeper or expose your pup to deeper water, you should support its body as it doesn’t naturally float.

While you support its body, it will use its legs to paddle the water, and over time, you can reduce the amount you support its body until your pup can swim on its own. You can also use a life vest if you are not confident enough to hold your pup. The life vest may not be necessary until you leave the kid’s pool and move on to full-size pools or lakes.

5. Ensure your Mastiff knows how to enter and exit the water.

You can teach your pup this by luring it with treats at the exit point, and for extra safety, you could also keep your dog on a leash.

Tips for Safe Swimming

Safety comes first when swimming and should be your top priority when teaching your Mastiff how to swim.

Here are some tips for safe swimming:
  • Keep training sessions short to prevent your pup from getting too tired. Some dogs can’t tell how tired they are and will keep going until you end their session. If your dog gets too tired, it could swallow water or potentially drown. Keep sessions to about 10 minutes long and slowly increase the time as your pup becomes more confident and skilled.
  • Never leave your dog to swim alone, and always watch it closely. It doesn’t take long for something to go wrong.
  • Go slow with your pet, even when it’s ready for the next step. Don’t rush to get it into deeper water, and wait until you and your Mastiff are 100% confident.
  • Don’t let your Mastiff swim if the temperature is not ideal, both in and out of the water. If it is too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pup.
  • Have fresh water available so your Mastiff can rehydrate after swimming.
  • Always rinse your Mastiff after swimming. Pools often contain chlorine, and the saltwater from the sea can irritate and dry out your dog’s skin.
  • Use sunscreen! Yes, the sun’s rays can also affect our pups. Use dog-appropriate sunscreen to protect its skin on sweltering days, and don’t forget their exposed little nose.
  • Put a life jacket on your dog before swimming in pools, lakes, rivers, or the ocean.

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Final Thoughts

How well Mastiff swims will depend on its training. While they were not bred to be water dogs, they can swim, and some can be trained to be strong swimmers with time and patience. The biggest drawback that will affect their swimming skill level is their heavy bodies and the fact that they are not naturally bred swimmers. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be trained, and swimming can be an excellent exercise for them. Mastiffs should be trained early so they grow accustomed to water, and eventually, they may look forward to a cool dip on a hot day.

Featured Image Credit: Vitaly Titov, Shutterstock

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