Can A French Bulldog Swim?

French bulldog in boat

We all have seen dogs, who once they are on top of the water, immediately start paddling. This has been perceived by many as the dog’s instinct for swimming. This might be true for some dogs bred to perform specific tasks that involve the water, but not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Some dogs are the exact opposite of that. One such breed is French bulldogs. Indeed, many people wonder if their French bulldog can swim, so here is everything you need to know about your pet’s swimming capabilities.

Why Is It Difficult For French Bulldogs To Swim?

The main reason Frenchies are not good swimmers has to do with their physicality and anatomy. French bulldogs seem to lack many of the physical traits required for swimming, making it either too hard or even impossible for them.

Even if they love the water and are eager to put effort into swimming, Frenchies won’t be able to stay afloat for too long and will ultimately sink. But what exactly prevents them from swimming competently?

Brachycephalic Syndrome

This condition is common to many breeds (American bulldog, English bulldog, Pug, Shih Tzu, and more), and for that reason, they are called “brachycephalic breeds.” This term refers to the bone structure of their head, which is wide but short, which creates the classically adorable flat face.

This anatomy of a brachycephalic breed, along with a very short neck, makes it impossible for Frenchies to tilt their heavy heads upwards while swimming, which prevents them from inhaling the proper amount of oxygen.

The lack of sufficient oxygen makes it even harder for a French bulldog (or any brachycephalic dog) to stay in a horizontal position, and combined with their exhaustion from the exercise, results in drowning. Moreover, brachycephalic breeds already deal with breathing difficulties due to their flattened noses and airway passages, so a challenging workout such as swimming is dangerous for them.

Muscle Mass

While French Bulldogs are usually miniature, they are surprisingly quite heavy because of the density of their muscles, which makes them weigh more than other dogs their size. Besides the fact that their actual muscle is very dense, Frenchies also have much more muscle than fat, which is generally less heavy. This is why it is so hard for them to stay above water, and they sink so easily to the bottom. Their weight and difficulty breathing are two things that unfortunately make “dog-paddling” almost impossible for Frenchies.

Micromelic Achondroplasia

Achondroplasia is a condition that is related to the abnormal development of the skeleton or specific bones. This condition is common to many dog breeds (bulldogs, terriers, corgis, basset hounds, etc.) and is the cause behind their short legs. More specifically, micromelic achondroplasia is related to a condition that only affects the limbs and not the rest of the body. Note that not all short-limbed dog breeds have achondroplasia.

Therefore, it makes sense that the paddling of the Frenchies’ short legs will not be sufficient to withstand the weight of their heavy torso. All the limitations mentioned above make swimming challenging for French bulldogs. However, this doesn’t mean that they will never be able to enjoy swimming, especially if they get some much-needed support from their owners.

How Pet Owners Can Help Their French Bulldogs Swim

As mentioned earlier, even though not all dogs are natural swimmers, it doesn’t mean that they do not equally enjoy the water. If your French bulldog truly loves the water, but you are scared of the risk that swimming entails, there are several things you can do to help your dog swim without risking their life.

French bulldog in watert

First, you have to be aware of the significant risk of drowning and educate yourself on why swimming can be dangerous for your dog. Take all the necessary precautions before attempting to go swimming with your dog. The best safety measure you can take is to invest in a good dog life jacket or life vest.

It will ensure that your dog remains afloat despite its weight. A French bulldog life jacket will allow your pup to keep its head out of the water so it can breathe properly, and it will make its paddling much more manageable, decreasing the chance of fatigue. Check that the life jacket is comfortable enough and allows your pet to move without difficulty.

Most importantly, you need to ensure you familiarize your dog with water. Putting your dog in a large pool, lake, or the sea, for the first time might be pretty shocking for your little friend. Not being able to touch the bottom might scare them.

It would be better to take smaller steps and slowly familiarize your pet with swimming in a more easily controlled and less risky environment. For example, an inflatable pool usually meant for smaller kids would be a good start before going into larger water bodies.

While swimming, you also need to ensure that you supervise your dog at all times. Their weight can cause them to sink very quickly, so you need to pay attention to their safety. If you are at a lake or sea, you should also look out for currents as they can easily carry your dog away from you.

Can A French Bulldog Swim?

If the question is if French bulldogs can naturally swim on their own, then the answer is that they cannot. However, this does not mean that they will never be able to enjoy the water. There are plenty of safe ways that your dog can play in the water without the risk of drowning.

As a pet owner, you can do many things to help your Frenchie swim while still ensuring their safety. A life jacket is a necessary precaution you need to take if your dog is allowed to swim. Pet parents will have to also familiarize and train their dogs while in the water and supervise them constantly. Once you are fully prepared to take your dog swimming, you can relax and enjoy some fun time with your best four-legged friend.

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