Can Boston Terriers Swim? What Owners Say & Training Tips


Can Boston Terriers Swim? What Owners Say & How To Teach
Bella swimming at the lake with other dogs.

At first, I was scared to introduce Bella, my Boston, to water. I had no idea how she would handle it. Bella was even a bit nervous about getting in the water at first. However, after about five seconds in the water, she loved it! 

If you are nervous about teaching your Boston to swim, read further. I cover how Emily and I introduced Bella to water. In no time, Bella was swimming twenty feet into the lake and back.

Can Boston Terriers swim?

Yes, Boston Terriers are natural swimmers like most dogs. 

Video Of Bella Swimming

Here is a video of my dog at the lake swimming. It took about five minutes for Bella to get comfortable in the lake. But once she got used to swimming, she loved it.

What Other Boston Terrier Owners Say About Their Dog Swimming

In the survey I conducted with 50 Boston Terrier Owners, I asked them about their Boston and swimming. In hindsight, I wish I would have asked this question a little differently. I would have asked, “Can Your Boston Terrier Swim?” rather than “Does Your Boston Terrier Like To Swim?”. 

Asking the question in this way would really help us understand whether or not a Boston can swim. Because some of the no’s in the survey could simply mean, yes, their Boston can swim, but they do not prefer it. 

Does your Boston Terrier like to swim?

A large portion of these 50 Boston owners had never allowed their dog to get into the water. However, of those who did allow their dog in the water, a slight majority said their Boston enjoyed the water. From my personal experience, Bella loves the lake, but not bathes.

How To Introduce Your Boston To The Water

Most dogs, if not all, will instantly start swimming if you throw them into water. Nevertheless, here is the process Emily and I took when getting Bella to swim. The reason Emily and I take this approach with Bella is that Bella only swims once every year or so…we prefer to go on walks rather than out to the lake.

Step 1: Getting Comfortable With The Water

The first thing Emily and I do with Bella is to get her comfortable with the water. We will walk up to the lake or other bodies of water and let Bella get her feet wet. This allows her to get acquainted with the sensation of being wet.

We will begin to walk down the lake, allowing Bella to take her time in the shallow part where she can reach. We do this for a few minutes or until Bella is ready to go out a little further.

Step 2: Move The Boundaries

Next, once Bella has had a few minutes to get acquainted with the water, we begin to push her out a little deeper into the water. We do this by playing a game of fetch. We throw the stick out just far enough were Bella can not touch. We will do this for a minute or two. 

By taking Bella just to the edge where she can’t reach allows her to build her confidence before we go out further.

Step 3: Play

Now that Bella is comfortable with going off the edge where she can not touch, it is time to play. When playing, I personally only throw the stick no more than 20 feet into the water. I figured 20 feet is close enough to where if I have to run in, I can get to Bella before anything terrible happens. 

Step 4: Rest and Recovery

Playtime in the deep water for Bella and our family only lasts for about 15 minutes. Bella is a short-nosed dog. And in 15 minutes, you will really start to hear your Boston breathing heavy. You will want to give your Boston a good long break from the deep end. 

You could continue to play at this point, but I would only recommend doing it in the shallow end of the lake or pool.

Are There Flotation Devices I Can Buy For My Dog

Of course, if you do not feel comfortable with your Boston in the lake or pool. Or if your Boston does not like the water, there is a solution. I personally have never used these flotation devices for Bella, but here are some of the highly-rated flotation devices for dogs.

If you want more information for each device, simply click the image to go to Amazon to learn more about the features as well as several other life jacket products.

When should I introduce my Boston to water?

Emily introduced Bella to water when she was only a few months old. It was at a local pond in the park. As long as you are watching your dog, I personally think introducing your Boston to water when they are only a few months old is ok.

Dogs Who Are Not Great Swimmers

Here is a list of the top 10 dogs who are not great swimmers. This is a list completed by iheartdogs.com. These dogs were chosen to be the worst swimmers for many reasons. For example, the Bassett Hound was selected to be one of the worst because of its long ears that could trap water in them. 

While the Frenchie was chosen because of their short nose, like a Boston, but also because of their big heads, short legs, and barrel chest…I know what you are thinking, what you just described sounds like a Boston Terrier. Yes, but Boston’s are a little bigger than Frenchies.

Here is the list of bad swimmers…

1) Bassett Hound
2) Bull Dog
3) French Bulldog
4) Pug
5) Daschund
6) Pekingese
7) Boxer
8) Pembroke Welsh Corgi
9) Bull Terrier
10) Shih Tzu

List Of Dog Breeds That Are The Best Swimmers

While the Boston Terrier does not show up on the list of worst breeds to swim, they also do not show up on the best. Here is the list of the Top 10 breeds that are great swimmers, according to Pet MD.

One thing I thought was interesting in this list of great swimmers were 3 of the breeds that had water or a reference to water in their name. Poodle, for example, derives its name from the German word ” Pudeln,” which means to splash.

1) Standard Poodle
2) Newfoundland
3) Chesapeake Bay Retriever
4) English Setter
5) Irish Water Spaniel
6) Irish Setter
7) Portuguese Water Dog
8) Labrador Retriever
9) Golden Retriever
10) Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever

Final thoughts…

Yes, Boston Terriers can swim. They are not the worst swimmers or the best swimmers, but they can have a good time at the lake without you needing to jump in and save them. Like most dogs, they are naturals at swimming. However, Boston’s are a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed). 

This means they may tire out sooner than say a lab swimming in the lake. 

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Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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