Can Scottish Terriers Swim? Exploring the Water Abilities of Scotties 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.

Are you considering adopting a Scottish Terrier?

If you have a pool or plan on taking them to the lake, you probably want to know about their swimming abilities. Can Scottish Terriers swim?

The simple answer is yes, Scottish Terriers can swim, but they’re not the strongest swimmers due to their body type and breeding. It’s essential to take extra precautions to ensure their safety around water.

I grew up with a West Highland White Terrier, another one of the Scottish Highland Terriers, which have very similar body types and swimming abilities.

I can tell you that these dogs are adventurous and may very well take to the water even if they aren’t great swimmers. Kind of like how I take to the golf course even though I’m constantly shooting 120.

In this post, I’ll discuss the swimming abilities of Scottish Terriers, as well as some advice on how to get your Scottie comfortable around water. In addition, I’ll provide a few safety tips for keeping them safe.

Scottish Terriers’ Swimming Abilities

Scottish Terriers were originally bred for hunting small animals, not for swimming. Their compact, dense bodies and short legs don’t make them natural swimmers.

These little guys might look cute paddling around, but their body type makes swimming more challenging than for other breeds.

Scottish Terriers are more prone to drowning than other dog breeds. It’s essential to keep this in mind when they’re near water, whether it’s a pond, a lake, the ocean, or a swimming pool. It is estimated that 5,000 pets drown each year in backyard swimming pools.

While they might not be winning any swimming competitions, that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some splashy fun with proper safety measures.

Do Scottish Terriers Like Water?

Just like humans, Scottish Terriers have their own unique personalities and preferences. When it comes to water, some Scotties might love splashing around, while others would rather stay dry on land.

You might find that your Scottie loves playing in shallow water, or even enjoys a full swim from time to time. On the other hand, you may discover that your dog prefers to avoid water altogether.

It’s essential to respect their preferences and ensure they feel comfortable and safe in any situation involving water. However, there are some things you can do to make your Scottie more likely to take to the water.

How Can I Teach My Scottie to Swim?

It’s not exactly like you can sign your Scottie up for swim lessons at the local pool, but you can help them become more comfortable around water and they may even learn to love swimming.

Introducing your Scottie to water can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. Here are some tips to help ease your Scottish Terrier into the world of swimming:

Start Young

The first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life is the ideal time to introduce them to new experiences, including water. They’re more receptive to new things during this early development stage.

Pick a Safe Location

Choose a location with clean water, free of algae and bacteria that could be harmful to young puppies who haven’t completed their immunizations. Avoid stagnant ponds or areas with questionable water quality.

Pick Calm Water

Your Scottie’s first experience with water shouldn’t be the ocean, as even small waves can be intimidating for a small pup. Calm water is best for their initial introduction.

Start Small

A bathtub full of water, or a kiddie swimming pool, provide a controlled environment that’s perfect for introducing your puppy to water for the first time.

If you do get a small swimming pool for your yard, make sure it’s hard plastic, as your dog’s nails will rip right through an inflatable pool – I know from experience.

Start Shallow

At a lake, let your Scottie walk into the shallow water first, gradually building up to deeper water where they’ll need to start paddling.

Stay Positive

Make the experience enjoyable for your pet by bringing treats and water toys. Encourage and praise them as they explore the water.

Don’t Force It

Forcing your dog into the water can create a lifelong fear. Be patient, and let your Scottie take to the water when they’re ready. With time and gentle encouragement, your Scottish Terrier will learn to enjoy the water at their own pace.

Water Safety Tips for Scotties

As a Scottie owner, you will need to be more cautious around water than you would be with most other breeds. Here are some water safety tips to keep your dog safe.


  • Always keep an eye on your Scottie around water
  • Be close enough to help if needed

Doggy Life Jacket

  • A doggy life jacket is recommended for Scottish Terriers when in water above their head
  • It provides extra buoyancy and makes it easier to see them in the water

Water Conditions

  • Pay attention to changing water conditions
  • Avoid swimming in rough or dangerous conditions

Take Breaks

  • Ensure your Scottie rests during swim sessions
  • Prevent exhaustion and overexertion

Provide Clean Drinking Water

  • Don’t let them drink from pools, ponds, lakes, or oceans
  • Bring fresh water for hydration

Pool Safety

  • If you have a pool, make sure it is gated to prevent your dog from accessing it unsupervised

By following these water safety tips, you can help ensure your Scottish Terrier enjoys their time in the water while minimizing potential risks.


While Scottish Terriers can swim, their body type and breeding make them less adept at it compared to other dog breeds. It’s important to take into account your Scottie’s individual preferences and abilities when it comes to water activities.

By following the tips and safety measures outlined in this article, you can create a positive and secure environment for your Scottie to enjoy water-based exercise.

Always remember, safety comes first when it comes to our beloved terriers – and with the right approach, your Scottie can have a splashing good time!

Kevin William

Kevin grew up with a female West Highland White Terrier named Murphy who was always by his side. Kevin currently lives in New York state with his family including a Labrabull (Labrador Retriever Pit Bull) named Lily.

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