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Can French Bulldogs Swim?

All dogs love water and it’s logical to think that French Bulldogs can swim. On a hot sunny day, the ocean or a pool is a tempting place to cool a dog down, especially a little Frenchie which is known to easily overheat.

As tempting as it is to allow a French Bulldog to splash about in a pool, be aware that this dog cannot swim for any length of time. A Frenchie should never be left unsupervised in water. They might look like they can swim but can very quickly sink and drown.

That said, it is possible to buy a purpose-made dog lifejacket so your Frenchie can enjoy a safe swim with you.

A French Bulldog swimming in a doggy swim vest.

A French Bulldog can doggy paddle in shallow water for a short time but will quickly get into difficulties once out of its depth. As a rule, the French Bulldog should be treated like a baby around water and never left alone.

Why French Bulldogs Cannot Swim

Though they can stay afloat for a short time, French Bulldogs are not good swimmers for these reasons:

  • Their bulky torsos make them front heavy
  • They are compact and heavy so don’t have natural buoyancy
  • Their short snout is hard to keep above water to breathe

Swimming requires a lot of extra oxygen and the French Bulldog’s brachycephalic face with its, short, wide muzzle, and short nasal passages mean it is difficult for them to breathe efficiently in water.

Therefore a French Bulldog struggles to inhale the air it needs for an exercise such as swimming because of the effort required to keep its face above water.

Why French Bulldogs Are Prone to Drowning

Its top-heavy build and short snout put the French Bulldog at high risk of drowning so never leave one unattended around water without a doggie lifejacket.

A French Bulldog can very quickly inhale water into its lungs if it can’t keep its nose above water as it breathes.

This fact, coupled with its inability to easily float means a French Bulldog is more likely to sink and drown than a dog with a long muzzle and a more even weight distribution.

No matter how confident a French Bulldog looks in water, it’s just not worth taking the risk.

A French Bulldog sitting on a beach near the sea.

Teach your French Bulldog How To Swim

Don’t assume all you have to do is pop a life jacket on your Frenchie and drop it into a pool. You need to treat it like a toddler and teach it how to enter water, swim and exit safely.

This ensures your dog knows how to get out of deep water if they accidentally fall in while you’re not right there.

The best way to approach teaching your French Bulldog to swim is to swim with it to ensure it can paddle along and keep its head above water. This may take some for some dogs and come more easily to others.

Should A French Bulldog Swim?

My advice would be to treat a French Bulldog like you would a toddler. If you put a dog lifejacket on it and stay with it at all times, there is no reason why a French Bulldog should not be allowed to swim.

Don’t risk taking your Frenchie swimming without a lifejacket. Many things can go wrong very quickly such as you getting into difficulty yourself and not being able to protect your dog.

The French Bulldog and Temperature regulation

The French Bulldog has difficulty regulating its temperature at the best of times. On a hot summer day, it is tempting to allow it into water to cool down.

Of course, this is perfectly OK if it is wearing a lifejacket and you can go in the water too.

Letting a French Bulldog have a quick paddle in shallow water is all well and good but remember, many ponds and beaches can have sudden drops into deeper water.

A French Bulldog near a swimming pool.

What are the dangers of a French Bulldog swimming?

The danger is they are at high risk of drowning. 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.

French Bulldogs 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 like a Labrador – it has many wonderful 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 just now worth the risk.

How A French Bulldog Can Swim Safely

If you are going to let your Frenchie swim, they must wear a doggy life jacket.

Check out the Doggy Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket which is conveniently available on Amazon via this link. It’s excellent and you will see it has plenty of satisfied customer reviews.

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

Garden Pools and Frenchies

Many people have garden pools, some permanent and some temporary. Either is a danger to French Bulldogs so ensure they are not able to access them.

It only takes just over 12 inches of water to drown a French Bulldog – that’s around your knee height.

Conclusion: Can French Bulldogs Swim?

  • A French Bulldog does not have physical properties compatible with being able to swim.
  • Some are able to swim a little but should be carefully supervised.
  • All will eventually sink and will not be able to resurface on their own.
  • Being submerged in water is a good way to regulate their temperature in hot weather if done safely.
  • A Doggy Life Jacket should be worn at all times  
  • They should be treated like babies and never left alone in the water.
  • A temporary swimming pool can be a good idea if you can supervise at all times