Can Pit Bulls Swim? [+Do They Enjoy the Water] is reader-supported. If you buy a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

If you currently own or recently adopted a Pit Bull Terrier and enjoy hitting the water with the family for activities, you may be curious if a Pitbull can swim and if they even want to be near the water.

It is understandable to question this before taking your Pit Bull for a dive into the water for their first swim.

Here is what I can tell you on this topic.

Can Pitbull’s Swim?

Pit Bulls can swim. Pit Bulls are not built to be great swimmers due to their dense bodies, heavy muscle mass, and large heads. While Pitbull’s may not be the best swimmers, they are still able to swim and may enjoy swimming.

The rest of this brief post will detail more about why Pit Bulls may not be the best swimmers but also will break down what you can do if you want your Pitbull to be able to swim safely and other precautions to keep in mind.

Here is how I intend to break down this topic for you today:

Can Pitbull’s Swim?

As mentioned, a moment ago.

Pitbull’s can swim without issue. This does not make them the best swimmers out of all the dogs you could potentially take out onto the lake, but they can swim, nonetheless.

In fact, they may enjoy swimming and appreciate the time spent exercising with you and the rest of the family on the water.

If you are the kind of family or individual that enjoys a vast selection of activities on the water and want to know more about swimming with your Pitbull, I recommend you continue reading.

We will cover precautions, recommendations, and other tactics you can implement to be able to enjoy swimming with your Pitbull more frequently and with less issue.

Are Pitbull’s Considered Good Swimmers?

Compared to other dogs, Pitbull’s are not considered good swimmers.


This does not necessarily make the Pitbull a lousy swimmer; it merely means that other dogs are more capable of swimming due to their physical builds.

Here is a deeper dive as to why a Pitbull is not considered the best swimmer compared to other dog breeds.

The Intentions Behind Breeding Impact A Pitbull’s Swimming Abilities

A few reasons and physical traits of the Pitbull make it difficult to swim as efficiently as other dogs.

A Pitbull’s body simply is not built to swim for long durations or with much speed and efficiency.

Some dogs are bred to swim, and some are not.

This does not mean that you can never take them swimming or that they will hate being near the water.

It is also essential to understand that Pitbull’s can be classified into 4 primary breeds of the Pitbull Terrier.

  • American Pitbull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Bulldog
  • American Staffordshire

In general, these breeds of Pitbull’s were explicitly bred for the task that was to be completed on land and as sport dogs/fighting dogs.

Much how the Jack Russell Terrier was bred to hunt fox.

Dog breeds, back in the day, were bred to do specific things.

Think of the Labrador Retriever.

I currently own a 7-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, and he is an excellent swimmer and enjoys it.

The same can be said about my Jack Russell Terrier.

She is an excellent swimmer as well even though she has a short snout, short legs and is considered a small dog.

Labrador Retrievers were also explicitly bred to retrieve waterfowl and have always been exposed to water.

It is part of the socialization and breeding with individual dogs that can predispose them to be either great at swimming or not so excellent at swimming.

More on A Pitbull’s Body and How It Impacts Swimming Ability

It is also essential to understand some of the other physical traits that make Pitbull’s less likely to excel at swimming compared to other dogs.

Pitbull’s have large, lean, and muscular bodies.

This is probably one of the reasons most Pitbull owners love the protective nature and the ability to make for an intimidating and excellent guard dog.

Due to muscle having a higher density than fat and muscle weighing more than fat, the ability to stay on top of the water floating is more physically exhausting for a Pitbull compared to other dog breeds.

Pitbull’s also have the popular large rounded heads that can make it more difficult for them to swim with ease.

Dogs are limited in their swimming abilities to only doggy paddling.

Meaning, the only thing that they need to worry about keeping above water is their head.

Clearly, if you have seen a Pitbull’s head, you will know relatively quickly that it is larger than most other dog breeds, which can make it difficult for them to swim without becoming exhausted.

Brachycephalic Dogs and Swimming and More Reasons the Pitbull Will Struggle to Swim

The term Brachycephalic means that the Pitbull Terrier has a shorter snout than other dogs.

It also means that when you couple this shorter snout with the other facts we have presented, such as large, heavy, and muscular bodies, it is easy to understand how swimming can become more exhausting for a Pitbull much faster than other dog breeds.

Socialize Your Pitbull With Water and Swimming Quickly for Best Results

While a lot of the information so far in this brief post has you thinking that a Pitbull should not be swimming, the opposite is true.

A Pitbull can use his physical abilities and muscle mass to do well with swimming.

Still, it is essential to socialize your Pitbull with swimming and water beginning at a young age.

If you foresee yourself wanting to do water activities frequently with your Pitbull, start getting your Pitbull acclimated and used to water and swimming right away after the adoption.

The sooner a Pitbull can be exposed to the water and swimming, the easier it will be for them, and the more capable they will be with swimming in general.

Do Pitbull’s Enjoy Water?

This will ultimately depend on your specific Pitbull.

As with many activities, the more a dog is exposed and socialized to an activity beginning at a young age, the more they are likely to enjoy it.

If you have adopted an older Pitbull that has never been swimming, they may not enjoy it as much as a puppy that begins being around water right away.

Some Pitbull’s will enjoy the water, and others will not.

Are Pitbull’s Afraid of Water?

This is remarkably like the previous question, but it is still worth mentioning.

Pitbull’s may be afraid of water if they have not been around water very often or ever.

If you socialize your Pitbull around water and swimming beginning at a young age, your Pitbull should not be afraid of water, but if the opposite is true, your Pitbull may not enjoy being around water.

Other Water Safety Tips to Implement with Your Pitbull Terrier

The last topic I want to touch on before sending you on your way is common safety you should practice if you decide to partake in water activities or swimming with your Pitbull.

One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that you use a reliable and trusted life vest for your Pitbull.

A life vest for your Pitbull can be beneficial for a variety of reasons.

First, it can take the anxiety away from you.

If you thought leaving your Pitbull home alone for the first time was stressful, wait until you go swimming for the first time.

Additionally, a life vest for your Pitbull can be beneficial from the basic standpoint that it keeps your Pitbull afloat while swimming and does not allow your Pitbull to easily sink or drown in case they become exhausted or struggle with swimming in the beginning.

I would recommend the Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket (Link to Amazon)

It is designed specifically for dogs that are beginner level, mid-level, or expert swimmers and backed by excellent reviews.

Overall, for the cost, you cannot go wrong with this life jacket for your Pitbull and will make swimming with your Pitbull much more enjoyable in the future.

Some Pitbull’s May Enjoy Swimming and Water, but They Are Not the Best Swimmers

When it comes to swimming, the amount your Pitbull enjoys swimming will depend significantly on your specific dog.

It will also depend on how often you get your Pitbull active and around water.

The sooner that socialization and exposure to water and swimming begins, the more likely they will be to enjoy swimming and be capable of swimming with more ease.

Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your new Pitbull Terriers and the journey you have ahead of you.

Does Your Pitbull Enjoy Swimming?

How does your Pitbull do with the water and swimming in general?

Do they enjoy it, and what have you found to be the best tips, tricks, and tactics you can use to help your Pitbull enjoy the water and enjoy swimming?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today, and we will see you again next time.

Wondering if other terrier breeds can swim? Check out the articles below:

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

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