Can Pugs Swim?

An often-asked question is, “Can Pugs Swim?”

The best, most honest answer is, “maybe.”

Some Pugs can swim. Some cannot. Unfortunately, we get letters from owners and former owners of Pugs where they didn’t realize their Pug could NOT swim until it was too late.

Body shape and head size are the two main factors in figuring out whether or not a Pug can swim. If your Pug is “pear shaped” (stand over him and look down, is his chest wider than his hips? He’s a “pear” shape!) then the odds are against him being a good swimmer. On the other hand, if he’s more “rectangular” shaped (chest and hips about the same) then it’s possible he’ll be able to swim for short periods of time.

Head size is the other factor to consider. Because Pug heads are so large and so heavy, often times a Pug will be in the water, paddling furiously, but still pointing DOWN and paddling deeper, rather than staying afloat. The weight of their heads cause them to tip forward and so they swim, “down down down, to the bottom of the sea,” to coin an expression. These Pugs are simply too heavy in the front end for their paws to keep them up on the surface.

But there are always exceptions to every rule and swimming Pugs can be found. We’ve heard from owners who live on sailboats, and their Pug adapt, um, ‘swimmingly’ to the situation. And others who take their Pug canoeing, kayaking and even rafting with them. (Almost all of these people do equip their Pugs with life vests, see below.) Some Pugs find their swimming experiences are best left to wading pools and sprinkler systems. Okay, sprinkler play is not really swimming, but if your Pug likes it, it’s another way to keep them cool in summer! One breeder we knew threw their Pugs into the pool and figured if they came up, fine, and if not, then they were one of the non-swimmers. They did fish them out with a net, but WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS METHOD!!!

NEVER leave your Pug around a swimming pool, pond, or hot tub without supervision. In this instance, use child safety rules to keep your Pug safe. Keep gates closed and latched. Make sure a Pug cannot bump against a gate and accidentally open it. Check clearances at gates and UNDER the fence to keep your Pug safe.

Manufacturers now produce life jackets for dogs, and we believe this is the BEST way to keep your Pug safe around water, especially for any length of time. The amount of energy a Pug expends to keep himself afloat is tremendous, and he will tire easily even if he can stay on top of the water. Be extra careful when measuring your Pug for a life vest, as this could be an article that saves his life.

Please keep your Pug safe at all times around water. We really do not want to hear any more stories about owners who thought their Pugs were swimming just fine… but were not!

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