Can Boston Terriers Swim

Taking our Boston Terrier with us on vacations has made them so much more memorable. From playing in the water to going on hikes, we’ve been able to do everything with our pup.

Boston Terriers are not specifically bred for swimming; however, they can easily be taught how. Once they learn, they are excellent swimmers but are limited to the amount of time and the distance they can swim due to being a brachycephalic breed.

If you want to know more about how far and how long your Boston Terrier can swim as well as how to train them to swim, you should read on. We will discuss their limitations as well as the best method of acclimating them to the water and safety tips.

Can Boston Terriers Swim?

Boston Terriers were not actually bred for swimming; however, they can be taught to become excellent swimmers. Despite this, they are not able to swim long distances or long periods because of their brachycephaly. 

The best way to guarantee that your Boston Terrier becomes a great swimmer is to ensure that they learn to swim at a young age. You’ll need to make sure they are comfortable with the water and that they get plenty of breaks to accommodate for being a brachycephalic breed.

Thanks to the survey performed by Boston Terrier Society we learned that 50% of Boston Terrier owners say that theirs can swim. I personally have 2 Boston Terriers and my fat one will jump in and swim to you if you have a treat, the female on the other hand will let you hold her in the water but sinks like a rock. So my personal experience is aligned with the survey that was done and the image below.


How Long Can a Boston Terrier Swim?

While they possess the ability to swim, Boston Terriers have two features that limit the amount of time and distance they can swim. 

First, they have short, heavier heads. For this reason, they should not and cannot be allowed to swim long distances or for longer periods. Some can swim farther than others due to better health and weight but they will all tire out quickly due to their abnormally-shaped snouts. 

Never leave your Boston Terrier unsupervised while they are swimming. This will protect them in case an emergency develops.

Second, Boston Terriers’ feet are not webbed. Their webbing only covers ½ to ¾ of the opening between the toes and is not elastic. This prevents them from having a stronger swim cadence like webbed-footed dogs.

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How Do You Teach a Boston Terrier to Swim?

You’ll need to give your Boston Terrier a positive experience around water to help them gain the experience they need to become a great little swimmer. Follow these steps to achieve this.

Step 1: Don’t Start Too Young

Your Boston Terrier won’t be ready to start learning how to swim until they are between 4 and 6 months old. Any earlier and their muscles and bones won’t be developed enough to paddle through the water. 

Step 2: Encourage Playing in Puddles

While you may cringe at the thought of a muddy puppy, puddles are an excellent way to adapt your puppy to water. You can make your own puddles at home to prevent your Boston Terrier from becoming covered in mud.

Step 3: Take Walks Along the Edge of Water

Take your Boston Terrier for walks along the shore of a lake or pond to get them used to the idea of being close to the water. If they’re scared at first, use positive reinforcement to train them to be comfortable walking close to the water.

Step 4: Get Your Boston Terrier a Kiddie Pool

Kiddie pools are a great way to teach your Boston Terrier how to wade or swim. You need to ensure the water is the right temperature for your dog to swim in and gradually add more water as your dog is comfortable. 

Always monitor your dog in and around the pool. If they can’t reach the bottom, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to climb out, which can cause a serious safety issue.

Step 5: Provide Support While Your Boston Terrier Learns How to Paddle

While paddling should come naturally to your Boston Terrier, they may sink a little at first. You can assist by providing support under their belly. Once they get the hang of swimming, you can slowly release your hold until your dog can support themselves. 

Step 6: Take Your Boston Terrier to Larger Bodies of Water

Once your Boston Terrier is completely comfortable with swimming in smaller bodies of water, you’re ready to move on to the larger ones. Keep in mind that your dog can’t swim forever so you’ll need to pay attention, making sure they don’t swim out too far.

Swimming Safety Tips

While it can be very exciting to introduce your Boston Terrier to swimming, it can also be nerve-wracking. To make things easier for you, there are safety tips that you can follow.

Acknowledge Your Dog’s Comfort Level

Do not ever force your Boston Terrier to swim when they are uncomfortable or scared. This can result in a deadly situation. Additionally, if your dog is a rescue, this could be a trigger for an abusive past.

Provide a Safe Swimming Space 

Make sure that the body of water you choose is safe. You don’t want to pick one with alligators, snapping turtles, or thick seaweed. Any of these can result in severe and deadly consequences.

Get Your Boston Terrier a Lifejacket

If you’re going to be boating with your Boston Terrier, a lifejacket is critical. There have been many stories of dog owners not realizing their dog fell overboard. A lifejacket can be the only thing that saves your dog’s life.

Be Mindful of Your Swimming Habits

You can obviously swim longer than your Boston Terrier can and they may be dedicated enough to try to keep pace with you. To keep them safe, you will either need to return to land with them or support them long enough for a break.

Boston Terrier in the snow doesnt really match Can Boston Terriers Swim post

Do Boston Terriers Enjoy Water?

When presented with water at a young age, many Boston Terriers give the impression that they love it. However, if they are introduced later in life, this is not the case. They tend to be more nervous and skittish around water. 

Older Boston Terriers can be trained to overcome their nervousness with a lot of coaxing. Typically, if your dog enjoys the sprinkler, you’ll have no problem getting them to enjoy swimming.

What Are the Benefits of Swimming?

There are a lot of health perks that come with swimming when it comes to Boston Terriers. These benefits include:

  • Helping overweight Boston Terriers trim down
  • Faster recovery from sprains
  • Excellent pain relief
  • Older dogs find relief from arthritis and stiffness
  • Provides an excellent cardiovascular workout
  • Relieves stress

What Are the Negatives of Swimming?

You have to be mindful of letting your Boston Terrier swim excessively. The negatives of too much swimming include:

  • The water must be room temperature
  • You must supervise your dog at all times
  • Because of the exposure to water, your dog may get ear infections

Frequently Asked Questions About Boston Terriers and Swimming

Q: Can Boston Terriers swim naturally?
A: While Boston Terriers are not natural swimmers like some other breeds, many can learn to swim and enjoy it. Their brachycephalic (short-nosed) nature means they may not be the most adept swimmers and may tire more quickly.

Q: At what age can I start teaching my Boston Terrier to swim?
A: You can start introducing your Boston Terrier to water when they are around 4 to 6 months old. Before this age, their muscles and bones might not be developed enough for swimming.

Q: Do Boston Terriers enjoy water?
A: Many Boston Terriers enjoy water, especially if introduced to it at a young age. However, each dog’s preference can vary. Some may be more hesitant or nervous around water, especially if they are introduced to it later in life.

Q: Are there special precautions I should take when my Boston Terrier is swimming?
A: Yes, always supervise your Boston Terrier while they are swimming. Consider using a life jacket for extra safety, and be mindful of their energy levels as they can tire quickly. Also, ensure the water is safe and free from hazards like strong currents or dangerous wildlife.

Q: How can swimming benefit my Boston Terrier?
A: Swimming is a great low-impact exercise for Boston Terriers. It can help with weight management, provide relief from conditions like arthritis, and contribute to overall cardiovascular health.

Q: Can all Boston Terriers learn to swim?
A: While many Boston Terriers can learn to swim and enjoy it, not all will take to it naturally. It depends on the individual dog’s personality, health, and experiences with water.

Q: What should I do if my Boston Terrier doesn’t like swimming?
A: Never force a Boston Terrier to swim if they are uncomfortable or scared. You can try gradual and positive introductions to water. If they continue to dislike it, respect their preference and explore other activities they might enjoy.

Q: What is the best way to introduce a Boston Terrier to swimming?
A: Start in shallow, calm water and use positive reinforcement like treats and praises. Gradually increase the depth as your dog becomes more comfortable. Always ensure the experience is positive and stress-free.

Q: How long can Boston Terriers swim without a break?
A: The duration can vary based on the individual dog’s health and fitness. Generally, Boston Terriers should swim for short periods, with frequent breaks to rest, especially due to their brachycephalic nature.

Q: Are there any specific training aids I should use when teaching my Boston Terrier to swim?
A: A life jacket designed for dogs is a great aid, as it provides extra buoyancy and safety. Additionally, floating toys can make the swimming experience more enjoyable and engaging for your dog.

Q: Can swimming help with my Boston Terrier’s behavioral issues?
A: Swimming can be an excellent way for Boston Terriers to expend excess energy and reduce stress, which may positively impact their overall behavior.

Q: Is it safe for my Boston Terrier to swim in a chlorine pool?
A: Boston Terriers can swim in chlorinated pools, but it’s important to rinse them off with fresh water afterwards to remove any chlorine residue. Also, ensure they do not drink chlorinated pool water.

Q: What are the signs that my Boston Terrier is getting tired or overexerted while swimming?
A: Signs of fatigue include heavy panting, slower movement, and less enthusiasm for swimming. If your dog starts showing these signs, it’s time to take a break or end the swimming session.


Teaching your Boston Terrier to swim opens up a new world of adventures and bonding experiences. As you navigate the waters together, you’re not just ensuring their safety and health; you’re creating unforgettable memories. While Boston Terriers have their unique swimming characteristics, with patience and care, they can enjoy and benefit from water activities. Remember, each moment spent with your dog strengthens your bond and enriches both your lives. Do you have any swimming stories or tips about your Boston Terrier? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

In response to the common query, ‘Can Boston Terriers swim?’ – the answer is affirmative. Boston Terriers have the potential to be trained as proficient swimmers, yet their swimming capabilities are influenced by their brachycephalic nature, which limits the duration and distance they can swim comfortably. It’s essential to supervise them continuously while they are in the water to guarantee their safety.

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