As a breed, yes, Golden Retrievers can swim. But like all other breeds, Golden Retrievers need time to get used to the water (and know how to get out of it) before they feel comfortable with this activity. Remember, safety comes first! We must supervise our dogs at all times when they’re in the water. Let’s find out more about the question: can Golden Retrievers swim?
Golden Retrievers Were Bred to Retrieve Waterfowl
Most Golden Retrievers get used to swimming quickly because of their heritage as waterfowl retrievers. They were specifically bred to go into the water, swim, find, and retrieve waterfowl that hunters had shot.
This breed has certain characteristics that make swimming easier for them than many other breeds. For example, their legs have the muscle power and strength for swimming over longer than average periods.
This breed’s coat is also perfect for being in the water. Goldens are double-coated, which means they stay warm in the water longer. The topcoat repels water, meaning the skin stays dry.
Golden Retrievers are so adapted to swimming that they have webbed feet! They help them achieve faster swimming speeds than dogs with non-webbed feet.
Technically speaking, dogs with webbed feet only have partial webbing. This is in contrast to animals with completely webbed feet, such as ducks.
How much your individual Golden Retriever has inherited the instinct for being in water may vary. Never make assumptions about your dog just based on its breed.
Gradually Introduce Your Dog to the Water
Be patient and give your pooch plenty of time to get used to the idea of going in the water. You should give your pet a gradual introduction. Never push the issue. It’s extremely dangerous to force a dog into the water before he’s ready. Drowning is a real possibility.
Puppies tend to be especially nervous about the water. If he seems frightened, wait until he is a little older. He will probably still be a bit apprehensive. You will have to spend time showing him how you stay safe in the water.
Experts recommend going into the water yourself in front of your dog, showing him how you get out of it. And never assume that your pet will remember this forever. You will have to give him frequent reminders.
Look into getting a life vest (floatation vest) for your dog if he’s nervous in the water. There are some adorable designs out there. We highly recommend putting a canine life vest on your dog before he goes in the water, especially when he’s a new swimmer.
Pools Can Be Dangerous
Pools are more dangerous than some natural bodies of water for dogs. That is because they’re usually harder to get out of. No matter how many times your Golden has been in the pool, never leave him supervised.
Even dogs that have used the pool steps in the past may forget and panic. There have been reports of dogs drowning in pools because they couldn’t find the pool steps or forgot about their existence. The more he panics, the more dangerous the situation becomes.
If you have a pool, take time every year to remind your dog where the pool steps are. Do this about once a month, at least. Reinforce the memory by guiding your canine companion up the steps and have him see you using them, too.
You should put a fence around your pool if you have a dog. After all, there’s always the chance he may slip outside without you knowing.
Where Should Your Dog Swim?
No matter where your dog is swimming, make sure the water is safe before he goes in. Some natural bodies of water may contain predators. Just one example is alligators in Florida. Make sure the water isn’t polluted or contaminated.
Check to see if your area has any special dog swimming facilities. Do research to find out about the facility and ensure it’s kept safe for canines.
If your dog ever swims in the ocean, you will need to wash the saltwater off your pooch. You should also wash off the chlorine from swimming in a pool. Remember that your dog will end up swallowing some water when he’s swimming.
Give him fresh water to drink before he swims. You should offer it to him afterward, too. He may get dehydrated otherwise.
Know Emergency First Aid
As we mentioned earlier, never let your dog get in a pool or body of water unsupervised. If there is a pool on your property, make sure you have some way of ensuring your Golden Retriever is never left alone with it.
And you should know emergency first aid in case it is ever needed. All dog owners should know CPR for dogs.
Swimming as Exercise
If your Golden enjoys swimming and you create opportunities for him to do so safely, swimming is excellent exercise. Dogs with joint problems or arthritis may do well using swimming as exercise, as it’s easier on the joints than running.
Swimming provides cardiovascular exercise as well as muscle toning and strengthening. Golden Retrievers are energetic dogs, and swimming is a great exercise to help them sleep more soundly at night.
How to Encourage Your Dog to Swim
We already went over how you must practice patience when trying to get your dog comfortable with swimming. Get in the water yourself and talk to your dog as he stands on dry land. Let him see how you stay safe in the water.
If you have another dog that already swims, seeing him in the water might encourage your Golden Retriever to take a dip. Again, always stay there supervising, no matter how experienced either dog is at swimming.
Now you know the answer to the question, can Golden Retrievers swim? It’s time to get excited about carefully introducing your dog to the water and finding out whether they like it.