Are Great Danes Good Swimmers? Everything You Need to Know

With words like the “doggie paddle,” dogs of all breeds have gotten a bad rap for being notoriously great swimmers. While plenty of dogs are more likely to swim than sink in a literal sink or swim situation, some canines are better natural swimmers than others.

Great Danes are not the best natural swimmers, but they are capable of learning how to swim well with some instruction.

The reason for this is because of the Great Danes’ build, which includes strong upper body strength that is ideal for swimming.

In this article, we’ll cover whether Great Danes are good swimmers and related questions.

Are Great Danes good swimmers?

As we mentioned, Great Danes are good at swimming once they learn. With strong upper bodies, strong legs, and lengthy noses, Great Danes are able to tread water with ease. Their strong upper bodies allow them to propel themselves through rivers, lakes, and pools while their long snouts stay above water to ensure that they don’t inhale the water.

For those who have either taken professional swimming lessons or received training from family members as a child, the term “doggie paddle” probably rings a bell.

It’s a basic swimming method that allows you to move water away from your body so that you can move through the water.

This movement doesn’t get its name out of thin air–dogs like Great Danes tend to naturally use this style of swimming to make their way through bodies of water.

If you’re wondering how the Great Danes’ swimming looks, it’s pretty simple to explain. While “doggie paddling,” Great Danes will elevate their heads above the water to avoid drowning and use their limbs to “paddle.” Their front end will mostly steer while their back end will go side to side to increase the potency of their front end’s motions.

While Great Danes can swim, they weren’t originally bred to swim, so it’s not a priority for their breed. Great Danes were initially bred for the noble duties of protecting country estates and efficiently hunting down wild boars.

Although some dog breeds were specifically designed to move in water, such as the water dog breeds, many dogs struggle to swim despite the common misconception that all dogs are great swimmers.

How should you teach a Great Dane to swim?

As we discussed, Great Danes are not natural swimmers, which means that you need to facilitate some sort of training to teach the Great Dane to swim properly.

If your dog is purely a Great Dane breed, then this will be a relatively straightforward process.

If your dog is mixed with other breeds, it’s important to do your research and consult your veterinarian, as well as local dog trainers, to see if training them to swim is a safe idea.

Some dogs, such as Great Danes, are able to swim even if it’s not a natural talent of theirs. Other dogs, such as Pugs, Basset Hounds, Boxers, and Dachshunds, are not able to swim. It would be unsafe to try to teach a dog who was a Great Dane mixed with any of these breeds to swim.

Additionally, older dogs or dogs with underlying health issues may not be fit to teach how to swim. Once you’ve assessed whether your Great Dane is safe to swim, you can move forward with the training.

To formally teach your Great Dane how to swim, it’s best to start at a young age if possible.

Puppies are curious and playful, as well as adaptable to learning new skills. An older Great Dane might be ingrained with fear or a strong dislike of water–this would inhibit them from learning how to swim.

Since Great Danes are not natural swimmers, it’s important to lower the level of risk surrounding teaching them to swim.

Having your Great Dane wear a life jacket during the learning process–and even after they’ve mastered swimming–can lower your chances of devastating accidents in the pool.

If your Great Dane is showing signs of distress or struggle such as slow paddling or gasping, it’s crucial that you immediately remove them from the water to ensure that they remain safe.

Never leave your Great Dane unattended in the pool and always keep an eye out for signs of struggle or distress.

After all, a Great Dane’s lack of natural swimming abilities put it at risk of drowning. Although this isn’t a fun possibility to consider, it’s important to be cautious, alert, and aware while teaching your Great Dane to swim.

How Do You Train a Great Dane to Swim?

If you want to know whether a Great Dane can swim, it might be because you are planning on teaching your Great Dane to swim.

Whether you’re teaching your Great Dane how to swim to avoid pool-related accidents or give your Great Dane an exciting new form of exercise (or simply bond while at the pool), it’s vital that you properly teach your Great Dane with appropriate safety protocols.

Although Great Danes’ bodies are designed with the capacity to swim, they still need a lot of assistance to learn this skill effectively. To become a good swimmer, a Great Dane needs professional instruction.

At the very least, they will need supervision while learning to swim and might even need some flotation devices to assist in the process.

At first, your Great Dane might seem fearful or uncomfortable when getting into the water.

Especially if a dog has an issue with baths, they will take some extra coaxing and effort to overcome a phobia of getting wet. Like people who are first learning to swim, a Great Dane might feel overwhelmed by a vast expanse of water that they have no idea how to navigate.

To put your pooch at ease, you may need to do some exposure exercises before even you can even begin instructing your dog about the practical side of how to swim.

Exposure exercises for Great Danes who are developing their swimming skills might include showing your dog that it’s safe to be in the water by entering the pool yourself first. Just let your Great Dane observe you being in the water and being okay.

Alternatively, Great Danes are very loyal and tend to feel protective towards their owners. If your Great Dane senses that you might be in danger or at risk in the water, they may be more inclined to overcome their fear to protect their person.

After your Great Dane has demonstrated that they are no longer fearful of the water as a concept, it’s time to move forward with encouraging them to enter the water. Whether your Great Dane gets into the water on its own or you introduce the dog to the water by bringing him or her into the pool, it’s important to move at the dog’s pace.

Pools that have graduated levels or steps tend to be easier for this part. If your pool has steps, you can gradually lower your dog into the water, step-by-step. If your pool doesn’t have steps, it might be more anxiety-provoking and jarring for your dog to hit the ground running (or rather, hit the water swimming).

The first few sessions of swimming are less about mastering a new skill and more about making your dog comfortable with being in the water.

Especially when your dog is learning, they will probably not feel confident enough in their abilities to preserve their life to be in the water and that’s okay.

As you consistently expose your dog to water and encourage them to simply exist in the pool, they’ll grow in comfort and confidence in aquatic settings.

If your dog is really struggling to get acclimated to being in the water, you might want to modify the process by using a pool float so that your dog can just get used to being surrounded by water.

Over time, you can remove the layer between the Great Dane and the water as they grow more comfortable.

Related Questions

How do I get my Great Dane to like water?

One way to get your Great Dane to like water, if the above methods fail, is using a children’s pool. Simply throw a favorite toy into the water or (to up the ante), place a high-value treat on the dog’s nose. If your dog goes into the water for a toy or touches the water with the treat on the nose, give them praise and rewards for touching the water.

What are Great Danes known for?

Besides protecting estates and hunting wild boar as their intended purpose, the Great Danes are known for being prestigious guardians of carriages and estates in the 1700s. Additionally, they were a favorite of the upper class for use in sports.

What type of dog can swim best?

Since Great Danes are clearly not the best swimmers, you might wonder which dog is best at swimming. The top three dogs for swimming are Standard Poodles, Newfoundlands, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.

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