Skip to Content

Can Chihuahuas Swim? 7 Facts, 9 Dangers & 13 Tips

Can Chihuahuas Swim


Even though Chihuahuas can swim, there are some dangers that you should be aware of.

So make sure to read this article from the beginning ’till the end.

You’ll discover:

  • One of the biggest reasons for drowning (danger #1).
  • 7 facts about Chihuahuas and water (find out if Chis like water).
  • 13 tips to teach your Chihuahua how to swim in a way that minimizes the risks.
  • And so much more…

Table of contents

Can Chihuahuas swim?

Chihuahuas can swim. They instinctively know how to paddle in the water. You can teach your Chihuahua to swim by building on this instinct to keep their experiences safe and fun. The Chihuahua’s small size can help keep them afloat, but you should be cautious and protect them from floating away. 

Swimming is a great pastime, one that your pooch is likely going to be able to participate in.

See, all dogs are born with a set of natural instincts. These instincts tell them what types of behaviors to engage and to avoid, how and when to howl, and more. 

Fortunately, among the many instincts that your dog has, one is the ability to swim. Yes, even your little Chihuahua can do the ‘doggy paddle!’ How? 

Well, although swimming is part instinct, there’s still some training needed. After all, you didn’t just start swimming perfectly on your first day at the pool, did you? 

No, you likely took a few classes or visited the pool many times before you perfected your technique.

Like us, dogs will start flapping their legs when they hop into the water. This natural paddling movement is the instinct. 

The ability to remain calm and keep their head outside the water, all while swimming in one chosen direction, takes practice.

According to Animal Planet, dogs can normally be separated into 3 categories when it comes to swimming:

  • #1: Dogs that can naturally swim well.
  • #2: Ones that can learn to swim well with training.
  • #3: Others that can probably swim, but shouldn’t do it.

Some people may tell you that your Chihuahua shouldn’t swim because of their small size. Don’t fret, though. 

You can teach your tiny pup to remain calm in the water, so they don’t accidentally lose balance and tip themselves under the surface. 

(Besides, the key dogs that should avoid swimming are brachycephalic breeds, like pugs, and unusually short-legged dogs like dachshunds. 

Your Chihuahua’s snout is just fine, and they will be able to breathe normally, even when exerting themselves.)

Do Chihuahuas like water?

Chihuahuas Like Water

People in the dog community often attempt to make sense of dog behavior by categorizing breeds by likes and dislikes. 

Although this works sometimes, it’s not always accurate. For example, to most people, a Chihuahua would be a breed that does not like the water. Why is this? 

It is a common thing for Chihuahua owners to watch their dogs shy away from the water’s edge, whether they’re at a beach, lake, pool – or even bathtub! 

Yet, this does not necessarily mean that all Chihuahuas dislike the water. Presumably, many dogs don’t like the water when they first encounter it since it’s so different from solid ground. 

When they first submerge themselves, the feeling of having nothing to stand on can be frightening! Your Chihuahua may not yet know that they will be just fine, even if they don’t have a ground to stand on. 

Although the more opportunities you give your Chihuahua to get used to the water, they will have a better chance of loving and enjoying it. 

Below you’ll find information to keep your Chihuahua safe and having fun as you start on this brand-new journey! 

7 Facts about Chihuahuas and water

As mentioned earlier, swimming with dogs is one of America’s favorite activities. 

In a survey by Vet Street, it was discovered that 67% of veterinary professionals and 49% of non-veterinary dog owners allow their pups to swim in safe conditions.

When you’re getting ready to train your beloved Chihuahua to swim, you’ll need to be equipped with some of the most important facts about Chihuahuas and water. All are listed below. 

#1: Your Chihuahua’s health can benefit from swimming

Chihuahua Swimming Workout

Water-based exercise presents atmospheric resistance to your dog’s body. This is more resistance than they experience in the air. 

This increased pressure results in a tougher workout. This is great for dogs that need to shed some extra weight and improve their cardiovascular health. 

A study conducted with 55 dogs showed that swimming improves mobility and is good for the overall health of your dog.

#2: Swimming can be used for physical therapy

If your Chihuahua is struggling with patellar luxation, hydrotherapy can help to reduce the pain. 

Dogs that struggle with this and similar conditions can prevent the common effect of muscle atrophy with regular exercise. 

Swimming is best for this because it allows a very gentle yet effective workout due to the atmospheric resistance mentioned above.

#3: Senior Chihuahuas can benefit from swimming

Swimming is often said to be a ‘low-impact’ activity. Even while exerting pressure levels that air does not, it puts very little strain on the joints. 

This is perfect for your aging Chihuahua. The risk of experiencing negative physical conditions, especially arthritic ailments – grows higher as your dog gets older. 

To give your dog the maximum comfort during necessary exercise sessions, introduce them to the activity of walking around in a shallow pool. 

You may discover that you both fall in love with the routine! 

#4: Chihuahuas are not born with the ability to swim

Yes, dogs do have the instinct to doggy paddle. However, this does not mean that they can swim well.  

Caution: Don’t assume that your Chihuahua will know how to swim right away. They need training and time to get used to keeping themselves afloat in the water.

#5: Chihuahuas are known as ‘water-shy’

In the Vet Street survey mentioned above, people voted for the Chihuahua as the least likely breed to enjoy swimming. 

Although many people assume that this small dog will hate the water, it isn’t always true.

Chihuahuas are just as capable of loving watersports as any other breed. 

#6: Your Chihuahua is a great size for swimming 

Chihuahuas’ small size can be a serious hazard when in the water. However, it can also be an advantage. 

Because of their light weight, they will almost always float and remain above the surface. (This is unlike ‘sinking’ dogs such as pugs and bulldogs.)

#7: Chihuahuas might panic when they see water

Chihuahua owners know very well that their dogs are prone to anxiety. Huge bodies of water look even bigger to this small dog, so they can be easily scared. 

This can make it difficult for them to swim safely, so keep a close eye on your pup.

9 dangers to look out for when letting your Chihuahua swim

Despite the fun of the activity, there will still be risks when you choose to bring your Chihuahua swimming.

To prepare yourself, get familiar with the list below and plan your approach to resolve these problems ahead of time. 

#1: Chihuahuas’ anxiety can increase the drowning risk

Chihuahua_Swimming Anxiety Meme

Chihuahuas that are trembling excessively or otherwise not managing their stress well may tip themselves over into the water. 

This will increase their risk of drowning. Keep an eye on your pup to help them out of this problem if it arises. 

#2: Your Chihuahua might consume a chlorine tablet

You might think that swallowing chlorine is the biggest risk to your swimming Chihuahua. Fortunately, this is not the case, and they will be just fine if they happen to take a few gulps. 

The real issue lies in the possibility of them eating chlorine tablets. When you’re ready to invite your Chihuahua into the water, remove these tablets. 

Place them in an area where your dog cannot reach them for more safety. 

To protect your water-bound Chihuahua even more, replace your chlorine tablets with something more dog-friendly. 

Bromine is a great alternative and is much safer for your pet. 

#3: Your Chihuahua can suffer from water intoxication

You may have heard that humans can become seriously ill if they happen to consume too much water at once. This is also true for dogs. 

If your Chihuahua happens to swallow too much water while they’re swimming, they could be in danger. 

Caution: The result of drinking too much water too quickly is known as ‘water intoxication.’ This condition can be fatal. Aside from death, it can cause heart failure and brain damage. 

When you get your Chihuahua into the water, it’s best to watch them closely. Make sure that they are not drinking too much water, especially if they’re brave and diving for toys! 

#4: Pool chemicals can irritate your Chihuahua’s skin

Chihuahua Swimming Meme

The chemicals that are used to keep your pool water clean may not be good for your Chihuahua’s skin. 

Their skin might dry out, causing irritation like itching and inflammation. 

This can lead to infections if the skin breaks because of how dry it becomes. Your Chihuahua’s chances of experiencing such a condition increase the more they swim. 

To protect them from such skin problems, rinse your dog off after a dip in the pool. This will remove the harmful chemicals and ensure that no issues develop later on. 

Caution: If they still have issues with their skin after you’ve rinsed them off, visit your veterinarian.

#5: Your small dog can become overexerted

Remember that your Chihuahua is a Toy Breed, so you cannot push them as hard as a large dog. Swimming too hard or for too long can be especially harmful to your Chihuahua’s health. 

If your Chihuahua is panting unusually hard or is struggling to keep their head up out of the water, take a break. Give them a few days away from the pool if necessary. 

#6: There may be bacteria in the water

Chihuahua Swimming Dangers Bacteria Meme

Swimming pools aren’t the only places where we can swim with our pups. Many people enjoy taking their dogs to lakes with them as well! 

Going out to natural bodies of water is a great way to get your Chihuahua to enjoy the outdoors.

However, there are risks in these natural places that are not present in your backyard. 

Many types of bacteria and algae can grow in lakes and streams. One of the most common infections that your Chihuahua might get from drinking this water is Giardiasis

This disease can quickly become serious. It causes your pup to suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting.
  • Unusually fast weight loss.
  • Lethargy (a significant loss of energy).

#7: Salt water can be hazardous to dogs’ health

Another place dog owners love to spend time with their canine companions is the beach. The wide-open space is great for letting your Chihuahua run free (if allowed) and splash up a storm. 

However, the beach requires more supervision than most other swimming locations.


Because of the salt water. 

If your Chihuahua happens to drink too much salt water, they will suffer from similar issues that water intoxication causes. 

Yet, because of the salt content, they will also become dehydrated. Further, the rough salt on your Chihuahua’s intestinal tract is a recipe for disaster.

Dogs might drink ocean water even when they are not swimming. If you see that your Chihuahua is thirsty, have fresh water ready for them to drink. 

Otherwise, watch them closely while swimming and prevent them from swallowing too much seawater.

#8: Your Chihuahua may drown

Because of how small your Chihuahua is, they are easily moved in the water. For example, if someone jumps in the pool nearby, your Chihuahua might get splashed around pretty harshly. 

If too much water splashes over their face or they become submerged for a second, they can drown. 

Stay near your pup and keep a close eye on them to make sure the water isn’t moving too much around them. 

This caution is even more important in open spaces like lakes and oceans. Waves can carry your tiny pup out to sea or engulf them in water, out of your sight. 

Never leave your Chihuahua alone, even if you are confident in their safety floats. 

#9: Your Chihuahua may suffer from ‘dry drowning’

Chihuahua Swim Drowning Meme

Even if you take as many precautions as possible, your dog may still end up sick a few days later. 

When you went swimming, you may not have thought that your Chihuahua swallowed too much water. 

This is easy to miss if they don’t show any symptoms of poor health that day. 

Still, your Chihuahua can suffer from the following issues a few days after swimming:

  • Lung infection.
  • Lung inflammation.
  • Heightened levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.
  • Hypoxemia (your Chihuahua’s lungs may be severely weakened).

13 tips for teaching your Chihuahua how to swim 

It’s time for you and your Chihuahua to get out there and swim! Now that you know what to watch out for, you and your Chihuahua can have fun and splash safely. 

Here are a few tips to help you introduce your pup to the pool!

#1: Though dogs of all ages can be taught to swim, start when your Chihuahua is just a puppy

Chihuahua Puppy Swim Meme

The earlier, the better!

#2: Get your dog comfortable with being in the water before you go to the pool

You can do this by filling the bathtub with about an inch of water and letting them stand in it.

#3: Always put a life vest on your Chihuahua

No matter how confident in their swimming you are, they must have a reliable flotation device. It could save their life!

#4: Get your dog used to the life vest before you get into the water

Have them wear it for a few minutes in the days leading up to your swimming lessons. That way, they can get comfortable with the new gear.

#5: Introduce your dog to the water slowly

Put your Chihuahua on a leash and walk them to the water’s edge. Sprinkling some water on their toes will help to get them used to the feeling of being wet.

#6: Don’t force your Chihuahua to get into the water

If they are not yet comfortable or interested, allow them to stay out of the pool. Follow their lead with your training pace.

#7: Safely play with your Chihuahua near the pool or body of water

This lets them know that it’s a fun, positive place to be!

#8: Start on the shallow side of the pool once they’re ready to get in

You don’t want to scare your Chihuahua by putting them where they can’t touch the ground!

#9: Keep an arm underneath your Chihuahua’s belly for support

This will help them feel safer as they swim.

#10: Keep the treats and the praise handy

Your Chihuahua will need lots of reassurance as they experience the water for the first time. Make these lessons a positive experience with lots of treats. Make sure to tell your pup that they are a ‘good boy’ or girl as often as possible, too!

#11: Encourage your Chihuahua to swim

You can lead them around in the water with a toy.

#12: Watch your Chihuahua closely

If they are getting too nervous, take them out of and away from the water. You don’t want to give them a chance to associate swimming with negative feelings.

#13: If your Chihuahua is trying to swim out, help them out of the water

They might panic since they can’t always pull themselves out of the water.