We know whippets can run fast… extremely fast! Whippets have an athletic build that’s streamlined for uber-fast sprints. But how does the Whippet physique withstand water? Can Whippets swim? Or do Whippets float like bricks?
If you’re an avid swimmer and love the idea of swimming with a Whippet furbaby, the good news is that Whippets can indeed swim… but they might not want to!
In this post I’m going to talk more about Whippets and water and how to encourage Whippets to become good swimmers. I’ll also touch upon safety so that you and your Whippet can swim with confidence.
Table of Contents
- Can Whippets Swim?
- Do Whippets Like Water?
- Teaching Your Whippet How to Swim
- Encouraging Swimming Confidence
- Whippet Swimming Aids
- Choosing a Life Jacket for Your Whippet
- Swimming Safety Tips for Whippets
- Summary: Can Whippets Swim?
- Related Posts
Can Whippets Swim?
Some people imagine that all dog breeds are natural swimmers… we often talk of the doggy paddle after all! The truth is though, this is NOT the case.
Most dogs will TRY to swim if they end up in water: they’ll paddle their feet as a natural response. However, some breeds do not have the physical build to enable them to swim and keep their heads above water easily.
Breeds like Basset Hounds, Dachshunds and Corgis have short legs and long bodies. Their short legs, body shape and weight distribution make swimming a challenge.
Other “brachycephalic” dog breeds, such as French Bulldogs, Pekinese and Pugs have flat muzzles , which means they have to tilt their heads upwards in water so they can breathe without inhaling water.
While Whippets do not fall into the category of “water” dogs, like the Irish Water Retriever, Portuguese Water Dog or even the Labrador Retriever, Whippets can swim… however, they might not want to, at least initially.
Do Whippets Like Water?
Most Whippet owners would probably say definitively, without a shadow of doubt, that… it depends! And likely it depends upon the type of water it is.
Whippets are creatures that love warmth and comfort. A rainy walk on a cold day would not be something looked forward to. Although some Whippets might tolerate rain, the majority of Whippets would probably avoid it given the choice.
As for bathing around Whippet grooming times, my little one absolutely adores the sensation of warm water when I give her a shower. We are talking about warm water though and she’d be disgusted by the idea of a cold shower.
Teaching Your Whippet How to Swim
It may be that your Whippet can swim without you helping to “teach” it. Most dogs will try to paddle instinctively when they enter water and some will be able to keep themselves afloat and actually swim naturally.
However, even if that’s the case, it’s wise to help your Whippet become accustomed to the concept of swimming before they ever need to find out whether they can swim innately.
At first, you might take your Whippet with you to a beach or lake to introduce it to water. Ideally you’d go somewhere with a gradual slope into the water so they can play near the shore to get their toes wet but gradually get deeper.
Offer encouragement by taking a toy with you and begin playing with it near the shore. As your Whippet gains confidence, you could throw the toy a little further from the shoreline so the water reaches higher up the legs and touches the body.
This may take some time though and the emphasis should be on fun.
Our Whippet was always quite cautious around water… she’s a little precious and would always back away when she felt the temperature on her toes. It took a while, and lots of encouragement, before she felt comfortable with the water going higher up into her legs or touching her chest.
When you’ve been playing near / in the water, after a time your Whippet may begin to see water as something fun and be less intimidated by it.
Encouraging Swimming Confidence
Your Whippet should feel confident about water and taking things too quickly might well create anxiety, which won’t encourage confidence in water.
Toys can be great tool to help your whippet understand that water can be fun. You might try playing chase with a toy at the water’s edge and gradually throw it into slightly deeper water so your Whippet’s focus is on the fun of playing rather than the water it’s playing in.
You might not want to end up throwing the toy into water that’s too deep, but playing in water shallow enough for your Whippet not to have to paddle out to reach a toy might just help to build the confidence that takes it to the next step.
When you feel your Whippet is comfortable, you can then think about encouraging it into deeper water. To do this though, I’d recommend a life jacket or flotation device to help.
Whippet Swimming Aids
Even if your dog is comfortable with water, it’s wise never to adopt a sink or swim approach to teaching them how to stay afloat. A canine life jacket or dog flotation device will help your dog feel even more confident in deeper water and allow their natural instinct to paddle come to the fore.
Furthermore, a canine life jacket makes a dog’s entire body float and encourages paddling with all four legs rather than just the front two. Dogs learning to swim tend to only paddle with their front legs if their backs aren’t level… it’s as if they’re trying to find the bottom with their hind legs so they don’t use them for swimming.
Choosing a Life jacket for Your Whippet
It’s important to choose a life jacket that fits your Whippet comfortably. A well-written canine life jacket will not only help your Whippet learn to swim, it will also make the process of learning more comfortable. A life jacket that doesn’t fit well might make swimming more difficult and less enjoyable.
It’s important to remember that teaching your Whippet to swim should be an enjoyable experience for everyone!
If possible choose a life jacket with a back handle that you can use to help your Whippet out of the water easily should you need to.
The life jacket should be hard-wearing and (it goes without saying really) waterproof! It’s also a good idea to find one that’s adjustable so you can make it fit perfectly. You might also consider a jacket that enables you to attach a lead for times when it’ll be convenient, like at the beach for example.
Swimming Safety Tips for Whippets
Every type of water your Whippet can swim in comes with different things you need to think about.
Sea water is highly salty and if your Whippet swallows a good deal of salty water it’s likely going to be sick. The same goes for salted or chlorinated swimming pools where too much swallowing will result in the same unpleasant effect.
Freshwater lakes may have critters or animals that might pose a health risk to both you and your Whippet, so always be aware of what hazards the water might have before diving in.
Any Whippet owner will tell you that Whippets don’t like cold temperatures. Indeed, even if you Whippet can swim well, bathing outside in cold water could lead to hypothermia.
Furthermore, swimming in cold water poses a very specific risk to many dog breeds: swimmer’s tail. Swimmer’s tail is a condition where a dog is unable to control the movement of its tail.
If your Whippet has been swimming in cold water and loses control of its tail and / or cannot stop shivering subsequent to swimming, take it to a veterinary professional as soon as possible.
Although not a water hazard per se, the sun can certainly be something you factor when your take your Whippet for a swim. Whippets have short, single coats, very little fur at all on their bellies and no fur at all on their noses.
As we know, the sun can be brutally strong, especially during the summer months. If you take your Whippet for a swim in a sunny day, make sure there’s access to share and even use canine sunscreen on any area prone to sunburn.
Additionally, always ensure you have access to fresh drinking water so your Whippet remains hydrated.
Finally, be aware of other beings enjoying the water… both canine and human. Swimming is great fun and others having a blast in the water may not be conscious of your Whippet swimming while they’re doing so.
Summary: Can Whippets Swim?
Can Whippets swim? Yes Whippets can swim most certainly… but they may need some encouragement and patience.
A swimming aid like a dog life jacket may help your whippet gain confidence in the water while they’re learning to swim.
Regardless of how well your Whippet can swim or how confident it is around water, never leave your Whippet unsupervised in and around water and always be aware of potential hazards.
Can Whippets swim? Why not tell me your experience of water Whippets! Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
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