Can Shih Tzus Swim?

a wet shih tzu standing in water
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It’s a beautiful summer day and you’re headed to the beach, but should you take your Shih Tzu? There’s no doubt that the pup would love the outing. But what about the water? Can Shih Tzus swim? The quick answer is yes, but there is more you need to know.

Can Shih Tzus Swim?

Yes, like all dogs, Shih Tzus are natural swimmers.

They have a natural instinct when it comes to swimming, so they don’t need training classes for swimming.

Chances are you’ve seen those videos of dogs being held above a pool with their little legs doing a paddle motion even though they aren’t in the water.

Now, that’s super cute.

And if you did the same with your Shih Tzu, its little legs would make the same motion.

Swimming comes naturally to dogs.

Having said that, some dogs are better for the beach or pool than others.

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Shih Tzus Don’t Have Great Stamina

While Shih Tzus aren’t poor swimmers, they aren’t strong swimmers and should never be left unsupervised.

They simply don’t have the stamina to swim for long periods of time.

A few minutes in the water or a couple of water activities and chances are your little pouch is going to get tired out.

Their swimming abilities are the same as other dogs, but their stamina isn’t.

A swimming pool is typically a better option for some water fun than the beach due to waves and such.

Cold water can lower their body temperatures too quickly, so make sure the water is warm enough.

If you find the water temperature comfortable, your Shih Tzu should as well.

If you don’t, they won’t either.

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Breathing Issues, Shih Tzus and Swimming

Shih Tzus are a brachycephalic breed. 

That’s a fancy word for a dog with a short muzzle and a flattened face.

It is what makes a Shih Tzu’s face so cute.

It also makes it more difficult for them to breathe in general and especially when in the water.

To keep their nose above the water they have to hold their head at an angle.

This puts strain on their necks and causes them to get tired faster.

Also, because their legs are short, they have to paddle harder to move forward through the water.

That’s why a doggie life jacket is helpful as their heads are held higher and the life vest holds them higher in the water, so they don’t need to use as much energy to swim.

So, while Shih Tzus can certainly swim, a swimming session should just be a few minutes at a time.

long haired shih tzu with rollers

Grooming Issues

If you’ve had a Shih Tzu for any period of time then you know they need a lot of grooming.

Daily brushing, baths every few weeks, and trips to the groomers are common.

If your Shih Tzu has really long hair daily grooming is even more important to keep them free of tangles and mats.

While a long-hair Shih Tzu can go into the water, just keep in mind that you will have a lot of clean-up afterward.

You’ll want to give them a bath and comb them completely out.

Saltwater can irritate their skin and chlorine can as well.

How to Make Swimming More Enjoyable for Your Shih Tzu

If you’re at the beach, you should let your Shih Tzu run around the shoreline so their little paws get wet and they feel like they have had a great day at the beach.

If you’re at a larger body of water such as ocean water or the Gulf of Mexico, keep a close eye on your pup.

All it takes is one big wave or a riptide and they can be gone.

A life jacket or life vest is a great option as well even if you’re at a pool.

This will take some of the pressure off of your Shih Tzus neck and make it easier for them to keep their head above water.

A Shih Tzu can turn into a couch potato if you’re not careful, so you will want to make sure that your Shih Tzu is getting regular physical exercise before you take them swimming.

This will make swimming a more positive experience and a more enjoyable experience for your pup.

You might also enjoy:

Are Shih Tzus Smart? It All Depends on What Smart Means…

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Do Shih Tzus Like to Swim?

Some will and some won’t.

If you take your Shih Tzu to the pool or beach when they are a puppy they will more likely enjoy swimming as an adult.

If you wait until they are all grown up, then the experience may frighten them or be unpleasant for them.

You might also enjoy:

When do Shih Tzus Stop Growing? Sooner than you may think…

How Long Can a Shih Tzu Hold Their Bladder?

To Sum it All Up:

Shih Tzus can swim and even enjoy it for short periods of time. A doggy life vest can make swimming easier for your pouch and daily exercise will ensure they are in good enough shape to handle it. Just make sure you keep them out of rough waters and instead let them play in shallow waters.




Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as a veterinarian or advice.

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