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Do Boxers Like Water? Can They Swim?

It’s time for a dip in the lake or pool.  The sun shines and is complemented by a gentle breeze.

And man’s best friend, your boxer, is anxiously waiting for you at the door.

But boxers are a dog breed that usually cannot swim very well.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot swim at all nor does it mean that they don’t like water.

It means you can bring your best friend along with you, but you must use your best judgment and monitor your boxer with caution.

Contrary to their lack of ability to swim, they do sometimes enjoy the water.

Why Boxers Are Not Good Swimmers

When a dog swims, they need their mouth and nose above the water to breath.

To achieve that, the dog must tilt their head upwards.

Boxers have considerably short muzzles, which creates difficulty maintaining their balance in the water.

As a result, the boxer’s backside tilts downwards, placing them in a vertical position to sink into the water.

The boxer has a dense muscle mass, and their chest is disproportionately larger compared to their hindquarters, making it more difficult for the dog to stay above the water surface.

Boxers do not have any sort of webbing between their feet.

The webbing in between a dog’s feet is similar to how flippers are used to swim, or with dogs, to paddle.

Boxers also have short tails which makes navigating and balancing difficult in the water.

Your Boxer and Water

Many boxers, however, do enjoy the water, and sometimes even swimming.

It is best to introduce your boxer to adapt to water as a playtime activity, such as playing with him or her with a garden hose, a small above-ground pool, sprinklers, squirting water toys and other small water-based activities.

It is a small step to take before your boxer and you feel comfortable enough to venture to a lake or beach.

Do not force your boxer to do anything he or she does not want to do, as it can lead to fear and aggression, and may also develop a fear of the water.

Helping Your Boxer Adapt to Water

If you feel comfortable in your boxer’s ability to navigate in shallow waters successfully and safely, then you may want to consider going to a natural environment such as a beach, river, or lake.

Beaches, rivers, and lakes have an accessible exit for your boxer to get out of the water should he or she feel threatened or uncomfortable.

The steps below will help assist you to train your boxer to adapt to water or swim safely:

  1. The first time you take your boxer to the beach or lake, you shouldn’t place any pressure on your boxer to get into the water.  Allow your boxer to walk alongside you on the shoreline.  This allows your boxer to explore the new territory and familiarize themselves with the smells in the environment.  Perhaps they may want to dip their paws in the water.  Your boxer must have a positive experience the first time he or she visits the beach or lake.  The positive experience will make it likely your boxer will adapt to the water.
  2. Find an isolated area on the beach or lake where the water is shallow and placid.  Sit in the shallow water and wait to see if your boxer follows.  He or she will likely be unafraid and follow you.
  3. At this point, praise and encourage your boxer for getting in the water with you, but do not make him or her stay in the water if he or she is scared.  Allow your boxer to return to shore if that is the case.
  4. Remain relaxed in the water and show your boxer how calm the water can be.  Your boxer will internalize the safety that you instill within him or her.
  5. After your boxer adapts to the water after several visits, you may try to proceed to venture a bit further, but not as far to the point that your boxer’s safety is jeopardized.  Playing a game of fetch along the shoreline or shallow water would be a fun activity for you and your boxer.

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National Canine Research Association of America