Do Shih Tzus Like To Swim? Helps & Guide

do shih tzus like to swim

Do Shih Tzus Like To Swim? Helps & Guide

Welcome to the world of Shih Tzus, those charming little fur balls that steal our hearts with their affectionate nature and distinctive looks. As we embark on a journey to understand these delightful companions, we find ourselves pondering a common question: Do Shih Tzus like to swim?

In this exploration, we’ll unravel the mystery behind their water-related preferences, exploring the factors that influence their behavior and providing insights into making water activities an enjoyable experience for both Shih Tzus and their loving owners. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of Shih Tzus and discover whether they’re the next canine swimming enthusiasts!

Understanding Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus, with their endearing personalities and distinctive appearance, captivate the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. To comprehend their behavior, it’s crucial to delve into their general characteristics and unique traits. Originating as royal companions, Shih Tzus carry a regal history that influences their preferences and demeanor.

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus possess individual personalities, which can significantly impact their comfort level with various activities, including those involving water. While some dogs naturally gravitate towards aquatic adventures, others may display hesitation.

do shih tzus like to swim

The Natural Instincts of Dogs

1. The Undying Hunter:

Deep in every dog’s soul burns the primal urge to hunt. This instinct manifests in various ways, from chasing squirrels in the park to excitedly sniffing every lamppost on a walk. Their keen sense of smell, sharp eyesight, and innate stalking abilities are all remnants of their ancestral past.

2. The Pack Mentality:

Dogs are social creatures, wired for pack life. They crave companionship and thrive on feeling like part of a larger unit. This is why they often bond so strongly with their human families, seeing them as their pack. Their loyalty, protectiveness, and eagerness to please stem from this deep-rooted need for belonging.

3. The Territorial Guardian:

Protecting their territory is another fundamental instinct in dogs. This can manifest in barking at strangers, guarding possessions, or showing territorial behavior towards other dogs. While it can sometimes be perceived as aggression, it’s simply their natural way of ensuring the safety of their pack and their domain.

4. The Master Communicator:

Dogs may not speak our language, but they’re masters of nonverbal communication. Their body language, vocalizations, and even scent marking are all ways they express themselves and interact with the world around them. Understanding these subtle cues allows us to better understand their needs and emotions.

5. The Playful Explorer:

A dog’s spirit is forever young, brimming with curiosity and a love for exploration. They sniff out new scents, chase butterflies in the garden, and dig for buried treasures (sometimes your slippers!). This playful nature is essential for their physical and mental well-being, so providing them with opportunities to explore and play is crucial.

Shih Tzus and Water: A Mixed Bag

Natural-Born Land Dwellers:

  • Built for Cuddles, Not Currents: Shih Tzus’ short legs and flat faces make them less than ideal swimmers. Their thick, luxurious fur can weigh them down further, making paddling a tiring endeavor.
  • Breathing Challenges: Their flat faces can make it difficult for them to breathe comfortably while swimming, especially if their noses get submerged.

But Don’t Write Them Off Yet!

  • Water Warriors: Don’t underestimate the power of puppy enthusiasm! Some Shih Tzus absolutely love water and can learn to swim with proper training and supervision.
  • Poolside Pupstars: Even if they’re not Michael Phelps in the making, many Shih Tzus enjoy wading in shallow pools, splashing in fountains, or chasing sprinklers.

Safety First:

  • Life Jackets are Lifesavers: No matter your Shih Tzu’s swimming ability, a doggy life jacket is essential for any water activity. It provides buoyancy and peace of mind for both you and your pup.
  • Supervision is Key: Never leave your Shih Tzu unattended near water, even if they seem like naturals.
  • Gradual Introduction: Start with shallow areas and let your Shih Tzu get used to the water at their own pace. Positive reinforcement with treats and praise goes a long way!

Fun in the Sun (and Sprinkles):

  • Shallow Splashes: Kiddie pools are perfect for wading and splashing, providing cool relief on a hot day.
  • Sprinkler Shenanigans: Running through a sprinkler is a delightful way for your Shih Tzu to cool off and have some playful fun.
  • Beach Buddies: Some Shih Tzus love the beach! Just be mindful of sand in their fur and keep them away from rough waves.

Introducing Shih Tzus to Water

Assess Comfort Levels:

  • Observe your Shih Tzu’s behavior around water from a distance.
  • Take note of any signs of curiosity or hesitation.

Choose a Calm Environment:

  • Opt for a quiet and controlled water setting such as a shallow pool or a calm lake.
  • Minimize potential distractions or loud noises.

Positive Association:

  • Bring favorite toys or treats to associate positive experiences with the water.
  • Allow your Shih Tzu to explore the water at their own pace.

Gradual Approach:

  • Start with shallow water, gradually increasing depth as your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable.
  • Use a gentle approach, letting them dip their paws first.

Encouragement and Praise:

  • Offer verbal praise and encouragement when they display positive behavior.
  • Use a cheerful tone to create a positive association with water activities.

Short Sessions:

  • Keep initial water sessions short to prevent overwhelming your Shih Tzu.
  • Increase the duration gradually as they become used to it.

Familiarity with Water Sounds:

  • Allow your Shih Tzu to hear water sounds, gradually introducing them to the auditory aspect of water activities.

Positive Reinforcement:

  • Reward desired behaviors with treats and affection to reinforce a positive connection with water.

Use Dog-Friendly Life Vests:

  • Consider using a dog-friendly life vest for added safety, especially if introducing your Shih Tzu to larger bodies of water.

Be Patient and Attentive:

  • Observe your Shih Tzu’s body language carefully.
  • If signs of stress or discomfort appear, pause and reassess the situation.

Safety Considerations

Supervision is Key:

  • Never leave your Shih Tzu unattended near water, even if it’s a shallow pool.
  • Keep a close eye on them to respond promptly to any signs of distress.

Choose Safe Water Sources:

  • Select calm, clean bodies of water for your Shih Tzu’s activities.
  • Avoid areas with strong currents, tides, or potential pollutants.

Gradual Depth Increase:

  • Introduce deeper water gradually, ensuring your Shih Tzu remains comfortable.
  • Monitor their reactions closely as the water level rises.

Know Your Dog’s Limits:

  • Recognize your Shih Tzu’s swimming abilities and never push them beyond their comfort zone.
  • Some Shih Tzus may prefer wading over swimming.

Avoid Strong Water Currents:

  • Steer clear of areas with strong currents that could pose a challenge to your Shih Tzu’s safety.
  • Opt for calm and controlled water environments.

Rinse Off After Swimming:

  • Rinse your Shih Tzu with fresh water after swimming to remove any chlorine, salt, or debris from their coat.

Teach Exit Strategies:

  • Train your Shih Tzu to find exits in case they accidentally fall into water.
  • This is especially important for pool environments.

Be Weather-Aware:

  • Avoid water activities during extreme weather conditions, including storms or excessively hot temperatures.
  • Monitor the weather forecast and plan accordingly.

Tips for Water Play with Shih Tzus

Dipping Paws:

  • Explore your Shih Tzu’s initial reactions to water and signs of interest or hesitation.

Creating a Splash:

  • Discover step-by-step methods for introducing your Shih Tzu to water in a positive and gradual manner.

Water Safety 101:

  • Dive into essential safety considerations to protect your Shih Tzu during water activities.

Toy Tales:

  • Explore the world of water-friendly toys that can enhance your Shih Tzu’s enjoyment during water play.

Splish, Splash, and Wag:

  • Uncover practical tips for maximizing the fun during water play sessions with your Shih Tzu.

Also Read: Do Shih Tzus Like To Cuddle? Helps & Guide


Understanding your Shih Tzu’s relationship with water is a nuanced journey, influenced by individual temperament and experiences. While some Shih Tzus may embrace water play with enthusiasm, others may approach it more cautiously. By employing gradual introduction techniques, ensuring safety, and incorporating positive reinforcement, you can create a harmonious water experience for you and your furry companion.

Whether it’s a gentle splash in a kiddie pool or a romp near a sprinkler, the key lies in respecting your Shih Tzu’s comfort level. With patience and consideration, you can foster a bond that turns water play into cherished moments of joy and companionship.

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