Can Shih Tzus Swim? The Definitive Guide!

Shih Tzus are some of the cutest dog breeds you’ll ever see and they can be a lot of fun to play with, whether that’s in the pool or at the beach. But is it safe to let Shih Tzus swim?

A quick swim in the pool or lake can be refreshing while giving your Shih Tzu some much-needed fun! However, not every dog likes being around water.

Shih Tzus do have a natural instinct to swim, but they are not for it. So while these breeds can swim in the water if need be and do so with ease, their stamina limits them from doing anything too adventurous for long periods of time.

Summertime is a great time for Shih Tzus to cool off in a lake.

However, your find that not every dog likes being around water, and if this is the case with yours there are some steps you can take to make feel more comfortable around water.

So in this article, we will answer that question and provide you with some tips on how to keep your dog safe when swimming in natural water environments.

Do Shih Tzus Like To Swim?

Yes, Shih Tzus like to swim, and while some breeds are built for swimming, some have a better time than others in the water.

Most Shih Tzus will enjoy being in water or wading around on shorelines with their paws dipping into the water.

They love to fetch the ball when you throw it in the pool, however, as before, this type of breed will get tired faster and may have difficulty getting to the ball so make sure you keep an eye out when your dog goes jumping in the pool or lake.

Shih Tzus swimming

Are Shih Tzus Good Swimmers?

Shih Tzu’s were bred to be companion dogs, so it should come as no surprise when they find their swims a bit exhausting and can only go for short distances in water.

Because Shih Tzus have a short nose they need to extend and hold their head at an angle when they swim and because of their short legs, they will need to paddle more to propel themselves forward.

Because Shih Tzus need to work harder to be able to swim effectively they’re more likely to tire out quicker than most other breeds.

Can Long Hair Shih Tzus Swim?

Although short hair Shih Tzus can swim without any cause any concerns, for long hair Shih Tzus it can be different for them to swim.

Shih Tzus with a thicker or longer coat can become waterlogged and the weight of their fur will make them struggle.

Some Shih Tzus may also have an allergy to chlorine in pools, which you want to be aware of before letting your pup swim there.

However, the chances of this happening are very small.

If you see your dog struggling in the water or if they become waterlogged, then you’ll want to take them out of the pool or the lake.

How To Teach Shih Tzus To Swim?

Shih Tzus are a cute breed of dog that have natural instincts to swim, but their build does not allow for them to do so in any adventurous way.

It is important that you teach your Shih Tzu how to swim and be able to float before jumping into a pool with them.

The best way to do this is by following the tips below.

  • Use A Life Jacket For Your Dog
  • Pick A Safe Location To Swim
  • Hold Your Shih Tzu As They Swim
  • Teach Your Shih Tzu to Get In And Out Of The Water

1. Use A Life Jacket

If your dog is not familiar with a pool or lake before then do consider using a life jacket specially made for dogs.

This way your dog can learn how to maneuver and use their legs in the water.

It is important that you continue reinforcing these new skills so that they are fully prepared before going into deep waters such as lakes or swimming pools with no barriers around them.

In order to provide a safe experience for both of you, do what’s necessary to keep everyone hydrated (including pets!) by bringing along some type of container with fresh water on hand at all times.

If not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration which will be bad news if this happens out there in the middle of nowhere while your pup has just been learning how to swim!

Shih Tzus in a lake

2. Pick A Safe Location To Swim

When teaching your dog to swim you should look for water that is calm and clear. The sound of waves crashing can make this dog feel uncomfortable, as well as the current being too strong for him or her!

We all know that if the current is strong enough you can end up drifting out to sea and the Shih Tzu is no different! In fact, it’s very easy for them to be taken out to sea by a wave.

So if your dog has never tried swimming before it’s not wise to let them go into the ocean unless they are supervised and wearing a life jacket of course as this can be very dangerous for your pup.

Start off in shallow water, or even just use a kiddie pool if it’s easier for them at first since they might not know what swimming is yet!

Once they have mastered performing certain tasks while in the water, you can start increasing the depth of water gradually so that they can get used to being in deeper waters.

3. Hold Your Shih Tzu As They Swim

When placing your dog in the water it’s important to support their weight.

You can do this one of two ways by either holding you’re a dog at each side or by placing your hand on their belly.

When they feel comfortable in the water, slowly move your arm to their front legs and help them paddle.

It might take a little while but eventually, you’ll be able to let go of their legs too!

The most important thing when teaching your pup how to swim is patience.

You needn’t worry about yelling instructions at them or trying to force it out of them, just do what feels natural for both of you.

This will soon become an enjoyable experience that has many benefits including stress relief (for you!) and exercise during those warmer months.

Just remember, Some Shih Tzus may be reluctant to go in the water and become anxious.

If this is the case then you should try to keep him calm, until your dog is comfortable being in the water.

Give your dog plenty of encouragement to keep going with plenty of praise for his efforts and occasionally reward them with a treat!

4. Teach Your Shih Tzu to Get In And Out Of The Water

Shih Tzus can learn to swim, but it is important that they know how to get out of the pond or pool.

As Shih Tzus usually become more tired due to physical activity, they may not be able to swim for long distances.

So make sure you teach your Shih Tza this skill by moving away from the water body and calling him/her over with a firm voice.

Notice when he becomes tired so you can gauge his performance in the future!

This should be the last thing you do. But don’t worry! Once your dog has completed this step a couple of times it should become second nature to them.

Think Of Your Shih Tzus Safety

As a dog owner, you want to ensure that your pup is safe in all situations. One of these situations includes swimming.

It’s important to keep safety top of mind when letting your Shih Tzus swim.

To give you an idea of what we mean here are some things to think about before letting your dog jump into a pool or lake.

  • Check The Water Temperature
  • Never Leave Your Shih Tzu To Swim Alone
  • Don’t Force Or Throw Your Shih Tzu In The Water
  • Watch Out For Predators In The Water
  • Make sure the water is clean To Swim

Check The Water Temperature

The first precaution you should take when your dog is around water is to make sure the temperature is ok for them to swim in.

Water that’s too cold can cause all kinds of problems for your dog even life-threatening.

Dogs that spend too much time in cold water are at risk of getting a condition known as swimmer’s tail or limber tail.

Dogs can also get Hypothermia if the water is too cold especially in small dogs.

If you noticed that your dog’s tail droops and no longer wags or lifts up, there is a chance your dog could be suffering from hypothermia.

Hypothermia is very serious for dogs because puppies, in particular, can’t handle it well at all!

If you notice that a puppy has jumped into water too cold and begins to shiver or not use his/her tail right away you should contact your local veterinarian asap.

Never Leave Your Shih Tzu To Swim Alone

Never leave your Shih Tzu to swim alone if you know that they cannot swim! If your dog is not a good swimmer, make sure to supervise them in the water and never let them out of your sight.

As mentioned, Shih Tzus can tire quickly or become panicked during swimming sessions, which can lead to drowning.

If you have any doubts about their swimming ability just keep them at arm’s length.

If they feel panicked during swimming make sure you give them plenty of encouragement.

Don’t Force Or Throw Your Shih Tzu In The Water

When teaching your Shih Tzu to swim never force or throw them into the water.

If you see them freaking out or struggling, take your time and have patience with your pooch.

If you force the dog into the water you could end up making things worse and Moreover, a puppy frightens them for life.

A Shia Tzu will naturally learn to swim as time goes on but as before it’s very important to have patience and take your time with your dog.

Watch Out For Predators In The Water

Depending on where you live in the world lakes and swamps have all kinds of predators.

Whether that’s snake alligators, crocodiles your name it all of which can be very dangerous to a Shih Tzu.

After all, you don’t want your Shih Tzu to be a tasty little snack for a hungry alligator or whatever could be lurking around in the lake. So supervise them at all times.

Make Sure The Water Is Clean To Swim

Dogs love the water and will often try to jump in on their own accord.

However, it’s important that you take precautions before entering the pool or lake by checking the quality of the water before getting in.

This can help prevent any accidents or potential health concerns from occurring.

If you are swimming in a pool check chlorine levels If they are too high then avoid swimming or limit the time spent in the pool until the filter is turned on. When your dog does get out of the pool using a dog shampoo when washing them off.

If your swimming in a lake make sure the water is clean to swim in by checking the water quality before making a decision to let your dog jump in.

If you’re not sure if the water is clean, then find another location for your pup to splash around and play safe!


So we hope this article has been helpful in knowing whether or not Shih Tzus can swim. In the end, these breeds can certainly be trained to swim if needed.

But as with any dog breed, you should always take into account what might happen when swimming or playing around outside for extended periods of time.

These breeds of dogs have a natural instinct to swim, and while they do so with ease their stamina limits them from doing anything too adventurous for long periods of time.

If you want your dog to spend more time in the water make sure that he or she has enough rest when on land!

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