Skip to Content

Can French Bulldogs Swim?

Dogs can’t resist water. Whether it’s the sea, a muddy river or a murky pond, our four-legged friends can’t wait to leap in.

All dogs can swim but brachycephalic breeds such as the French Bulldog cannot swim for long. Their flat faces and short snouts make it too easy for water to flood up their nostrils and into their lungs, putting them at risk of drowning.

A French Bulldog can doggy paddle in shallow water for a short amount of time but will quickly get into difficulties once out of its depth. If you want to take a French Bulldog swimming, invest in a dog life jacket.

As a rule, the French Bulldog should be treated like a baby near water: never left alone.

A French Bulldog swimming in a doggy swim vest.

Should A French Bulldog Swim?

My advice would be to treat them like a baby. Would you prevent your baby from swimming? No. Would you leave your baby alone whilst she swims? Also, no.

As long as you are there with your French Bulldog and she’s enjoying the water, is there any risk associated with this?

Unfortunately, yes, and it’s a significant one. You must be alert at all times and she must be wearing a Life Jacket. 

The French Bulldog is Not Like Other Dogs

Well, we all knew this already. The French Bulldog has an adorable temperament that sets it apart from other breeds. However, they’re not only different in personality, but they are also, of course, different physically.

The Bully is very much front-heavy. I know they’re not all built the same, but generally, they are.

You know this already (assuming you have one) as when you pick them up they feel off-balance and you need to lower the rear section when holding one to achieve some kind of stability.

Now, if you put one of these dogs into the water there’s a good chance that it will be the equivalent of trying to float a lead weight. They’re just not physically designed for swimming.

This isn’t a criticism, just a fact. A Lamborghini Aventador isn’t any good at going off-road, doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. Just you’re trying to get it to do something it wasn’t designed for. 

The French Bulldog Can’t Regulate Its Temperature

We all know the difficulties that the French Bulldog has in regulating its temperature. This can be very dangerous in high temperatures.

In fact, some airlines have banned this breed from flying as several had died because of the high temperatures within the aircraft’s hold prior to take-off. So, you can see the attraction right?

A very hot dog in summer, unable to regulate its temperature will get increasingly stressed and anxious as it can’t cool itself down. This happens to me every year on holiday.

We’re away, somewhere hot lying in the Sun by the pool, getting increasingly hot (and err burnt).

Eventually, it becomes too much and you jump in the pool – instant relief. It’s exactly the same for the Frenchie. Not only would their temperature reduce but no doubt they’d love it. Just make sure you’re in there also with them.

Reasons why the French Bulldog shouldn’t swim

Firstly, just a very quick summary of the physical properties of the Frenchie. You probably know this already but some of it is relevant when we talk about her being able to swim.

The French Bulldog is a smallish breed that is particularly popular with families in both the United States and Europe, with good reason as they make an exceptional companion.

Their heads can seem large for the size of the dog and indeed they are most definitely front-heavy. They have a lifespan of around 10 years and will typically reach about 20 lbs when fully grown, although this can vary of course.

A French Bulldog near a swimming pool.

What are the dangers of the French Bulldog swimming?

The danger is they will drown. And they will drown if left in the water that’s deeper than them in a very short time. Yes, they may be able to swim for about 10 feet or so but typically not much more than that. After that, they will sink to the bottom.

They are not buoyant and will not be able to swim back to the surface. Other dogs, such as Labradors can do this. The French Bulldog is not a lab though, it has other qualities but being able to swim is certainly not one of them.

Even if a doggy life vest is fitted, close attention should be paid and you should never leave them alone.

Unfortunately, you may not get a second chance if they do jump in and drop to the bottom. Even a few seconds can be (and has been) enough to drown a little Frenchie, it’s so ridiculously sad – don’t think they’re invincible. 

Can The French Bulldog Swim Safely?

If you are going to invite them into your pool then they simply must be wearing a doggy life jacket. If you haven’t got one and are after one then you must check out the Doggy Life Jacket.

Click on the link to get the latest price from Amazon but you’ve just got to look at the reviews of this thing to realize it’s worth the small price.

No matter how good the life jacket is though, it should never be relied on fully. Make sure that when she’s in the water, you are too and don’t take your eyes off of her.

Remember, it can only take seconds for something not very nice to happen, so don’t let it. Anyway, why would you honestly want to take your eyes off that gorgeous bundle of awesome?

Little Garden Pool

A lot of people have garden pools, some permanent and some temporary. If you have a temporary pool set-up then just because it’s not 8 feet deep, doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.

Remember, it only takes just over a foot of water to drown a French Bulldog – that’s only around your knees.


  • A French Bulldog does not have physical properties that are compatible with being able to swim.
  • Some are able to swim, despite the above for a few feet.
  • All will eventually sink however and will not be able to surface on their own.
  • Being submerged in water is a good way to regulate their temperature in hot weather however as the breed is unable to regulate this themselves. 
  • A Doggy Life Jacket should be worn by the dog if it does come into the water with you. 
  • They should be treated like babies and never left alone in the water.
  • A temporary outdoor swimming pool can be a good idea if actively monitored and a cover provided for when you’re not able to.

I’ve written quite a bit about the French Bulldog, if you’d like to see a complete guide to this unique dog breed, then please check my article out here. If you’re interested in knowing how much a French Bulldog will cost you, then take a look here.