Poodles are one of the most athletically skilled yet misunderstood dog breeds in the world.
All pedigree Poodles are natural and impressive swimmers. In fact (perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the breed’s athletic prowess), pedigree Poodles are among the best swimmers in the canine world.
Despite consistently performing well in show environments and placing second out of all dog breeds in terms of intelligence (beaten only by the Border Collie), Poodles still carry the unfortunate stereotype of being prissy, fussy, and generally unintelligent dogs.
This misconception probably arises from their elegant appearance and often anxious temperament, which can make Poodles seem highly strung at times.
The truth is, even though Poodles are high-maintenance dogs, due to the amount of regular exercise and grooming that they need, they’re also smart and powerful athletes.
However, one particular activity that can divide even naturally athletic dogs is swimming. Yorkshire Terriers, for example, despite being energetic and agile, are often averse to water.
So, how do Poodles fare when it comes to swimming? Let’s find out!
Can Pedigree Poodles Swim?
At this point, it’s important to note that ‘Poodle’ has become an umbrella term for several sub-breeds due to selective breeding and crossbreeding. Therefore, we’ll be answering the question ‘can poodles swim?’ regarding pedigree and toy Poodles separately.
To start with, let’s talk about pedigree Poodles and how they perform in the water.
Pedigree Poodle breeds can be divided into three categories: standard Poodles, toy Poodles, and miniature Poodles.
What many people, including long-time dog owners, don’t know is that Poodles were originally bred to be gun dogs. In particular, Poodles were bred for their water retrieving skills and were used to fetch fallen game from bodies of water.
If you look past the fluffy haircut and focus on the physique of the pedigree Poodle, regardless of size, it’s clear that this breed is built for swimming. Underneath their coats, Poodles have lean builds that make them lightweight and agile, yet with enough muscle to power through water quickly.
Can Hybrid Poodles Swim?
The answer to whether hybrid Poodles can swim is a little more complex because there is much more variety in terms of build and characteristics in Poodle hybrids, which can affect swimming ability.
Some common Poodle hybrids include the Labradoodle, Cockapoo, Goldendoodle, Cavapoo, Bichon Poodle, and Shihpoo.
There are also a whole host of less-common hybrid poodle breeds, including the Bordoodle, Corgipoo, Maltipoo, Chipoo, Pomapoo, Boxerdoodle, Doxiepoo, Schnoodle, and Yorkipoo.
Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, as you might expect, are strong swimmers. Both Labradors and Golden Retrievers are athletic, energetic, and muscular dogs. Therefore, their genes, combined with the breeding history of the Poodle, create hybrids with a strong affinity for and talent in the water.
Ultimately, if you want to determine how your hybrid Poodle will fare in the water, looking at the parents’ breeds is a good place to start. Generally speaking, crossing a Poodle with another long-legged, lean, and naturally athletic breed is likely to result in a hybrid with a talent for swimming.
Swimming ability tends to decline once a Poodle is crossed with a proportionally short-legged or long-backed breed. This is why Maltipoos, Doxiepoos, and Yorkipoos aren’t natural swimmers in the same way as Poodles are, because their physiques just aren’t built for this kind of exercise.
Doxiepoos, in particular, are likely to run into difficulties when swimming. Long bodies and short legs make it difficult for dogs like these to keep themselves afloat, and more likely that they will accidentally inhale water.
Now, that isn’t to say that all short-legged or long-backed Poodle hybrids are completely incapable of swimming. Some dogs with this kind of physique do enjoy splashing around in the water once they’ve been gradually and carefully introduced.
However, if your Poodle hybrid has short legs or a long back, it’s important to keep any swimming sessions short and supervised. If your dog displays severe anxiety, aversion, or difficulty in the water, don’t push it too hard. This can create more anxiety regarding water and may even be dangerous.
How do I Teach my Poodle to Swim?
Just because most Poodles can swim doesn’t mean that they are born with the innate knowledge and desire to do so.
Therefore, if you want your Poodle to become an accomplished and confident swimmer, you will need to provide them with access to an appropriate water supply, as well as learning tools and support.
The best way to teach a pedigree or hybrid Poodle to swim is much the same process as any other dog.
Introduce your Poodle to the water gently and gradually, allowing them to step into the water themselves, somewhere they can touch the bottom.
When the time comes for your Poodle to learn how to paddle, it may help if you get into the water with them for support. We recommend physically holding your dog up around the hindquarters and midriff while they practice. A lifejacket can help them to get used to the paddling motion without putting them at risk.
Having your Poodle learn to swim with friends can be a great incentive since Poodles are sociable dogs. Incorporating some of your Poodle’s favorite treats is another good way to make the experience more rewarding.
To keep your Poodle as safe as possible during the learning process, keep swimming sessions to enclosed areas where possible and keep your eyes on your dog at all times.
The bottom line is that the majority of Poodles, pedigree or hybrid, have the ability to swim to a certain extent.
Pedigree Poodles and crosses with other lean, long-legged, and athletic dog breeds tend to be the strongest swimmers. Short-legged and long-backed poodle hybrids probably won’t be quite as natural in the water and may need extra teaching or encouragement.
Certain hybrids, such as Doxiepoos, may really struggle in the water due to their physiques. If your Poodle demonstrates significant distress or difficulty, don’t push them to continue.
Before you go, we’d also like to clarify that all information supplied in this article is based on the physiques and typical abilities of healthy, uninjured pedigree and hybrid Poodles.
If your Poodle or Poodle hybrid has any ongoing health issues or injuries, you should always seek the advice of a veterinary practitioner before trying to encourage your dog to swim.