Can Shih Tzus swim? Get the real scoop on if it’s safe or not in 2022?

Despite that they often have fancy haircuts, some Shih Tzus seem to absolutely love water and this, of course, begs a question. Can Shih Tzus swim?

Can Shih Tzus swim?
Can Shih Tzus swim?

Can Shih Tzus swim?

Yes, Shih Tzus can swim, and many seem to love a quick dip in the water. This is fine if your dog is already an avid swimmer but you need to supervise them, invest in a doggy lifejacket, and limit sessions to no more than a few minutes at a time to make sure that they have no difficulty breathing.

While it’s great fun and exercise, swimming with supervision is a must with this breed, and today we’ll tell you a little more about why this is the case. Read on to find out more about swimming, your Shih Tzu, and why close supervision is vital with this breed!

Do Shih Tzus like swimming?

While there is no guarantee that your Shih Tzu will enjoy swimming, most dogs of this breed are actually quite excellent little swimmers and seem to absolutely LOVE it.

Generally, they need to be introduced at an early age to develop this happy-go-lucky attitude where water is concerned, but even old Shih Tzus may develop a taste for it.

When they DO enjoy swimming, it makes for excellent exercise, as the buoyancy of the water makes it a low-impact workout – which can actually help in recuperating from sprains and strengthening up the body without tiring your little one out.

If you’d like to give your little one a chance to try swimming to see if they like it, a kiddie pool is the best way to start, as they are small, shallow, and easy to supervise.

Many also have a little slide-ramp inside that makes getting out easier and you can place it close to an elevated area for easy entry, as well.

The most important thing, however, is going to be supervision, as your Shih Tzu cannot swim for long periods as easily as other breeds and we’ll tell you why that is.

Shih Tzus are a brachycephalic breed

Brachycephalic is a term that you will hear with some dogs, such as Shih Tzu, Pugs, and Bulldogs, just to name a few. It’s just a fancy term for ‘flat-faced’, and while this trait can give your dog quite the cute and distinctive look, it does come with a few caveats.

When swimming, a flat face makes it much harder for your dog to keep their nose over water than a long and pointy-nosed breed would have. They can still swim, but it’s going to take your dog extra effort to keep their face above water, and this can be dangerous if you aren’t supervised and they cannot easily get out.

Despite this trait, however, many Shih Tzu dogs still love swimming and once they take to it, you might even have to keep a close eye on them to keep them from simply jumping into water whenever they get the urge.

Thankfully, you can set a few ground rules so that they know when swimming is allowed and so that you can always be ready to supervise these little sessions to keep the swimming fun and more importantly, to keep it safe for your furry friend.

Swimming is fine — with a few ground rules

The first thing that you will need to do is to invest in a flotation device for your Shih Tzu. This is actually quite easy to do – you’ll just need to get a doggy life jacket – and these are fairly inexpensive and easy to find. While your dog might swim like an otter, the life-jacket can help to serve in two important ways.

First, to keep your dog from jumping into water unexpectedly, if you always show them the life jacket first before an allowed swimming session, then they’ll know that when you put it on them then it means that they get to swim.

You might have to train them further with the ‘sit’ command when they try to go into the water without it, but as long as you give them treats for waiting on the life jacket, then they will quickly learn.

Secondly, the life jacket helps them to keep their noses above water, which is vital for brachycephalic breeds.

Their flat faces make it hard to breathe, even when they are simply walking outside on a hot day, so if they tire themselves out in the water then the jacket might well save their lives.

It keeps their noses above water so that you can get them safely out when they are ready with much less worry.

Lakes are good, pools not so much

Once you’ve Shih Tzu has graduated from kiddie pools to larger bodies of water, you’re going to want to keep them away from swimming pools.

While pools are wonderful for humans and certainly cleaner than the lake, the chlorine in them is going to strip your dog of the natural oils that help to keep their skin soft and pliant and their coats looking their best.

For this reason, local parks are likely going to be your best option, or you might even make a trip to the lake with your Shih Tzu and have a nice picnic together.

Just make sure that you can supervise any time in the water and that your dog has their life jacket on, as well.

It’s a good idea to dress for swimming as well, or to at least have your swimwear on underneath your clothing.

That way, if your little one gets a little TOO excited and either tires themselves out or starts swimming out of your comfort zone, then you are prepared to hop in and bring them back to safety and snacks!

Some finals words on swimming and Shih Tzus

While Shih Tzus are not bred for it, many of these adorable guys and gals are actually quite fond of swimming and are like little otters when you get them in the water.

 Just remember that their flat faces can make it hard to keep their noses out of the water, so they are going to need a life jacket and full supervision.

Keep the sessions short, with 10 to 15 minutes at a time being a good ground rule, and they can even swim again later with a little rest first.

It’s an excellent low-impact exercise that many Shih Tzus love and while there are no guarantees that your dog will like it, you can always introduce them to water slowly and see how it goes.

If they take to it, then the both of you will definitely start looking forward to shared summers together even more!

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I am the owner of Shihtzuadvice.com and the proud parent of two black and one gold Shih Tzu's. I belive that the Shih Tzu is the best all-around dog for anyone and want to share with you as much valuable knowledge as possible about this great breed!

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