Ask a Vet

Do Staffies Like Swimming?

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We often see videos of dogs swimming, splashing in puddles, and living their best lives. These wholesome videos warm our souls and leave us wishing our lives were as simple as a dog. 

Then many of us turn to our dogs and wonder, why doesn’t mine do the same? Or we turn our mind to specific breeds and ask ourselves, do Staffies like swimming? These questions can haunt us, running circles in our minds all day.

So we are here to relieve you of that stress and answer all your Staffie swimming-related questions today! Find out if Staffies enjoy swimming or not!

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Do Staffies like swimming?

It’s quite hit and miss when it comes to Staffies enjoying swimming. Generally, most Staffies find it quite difficult to swim, making it something they don’t enjoy doing. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are plenty of Staffies out there that love swimming and being in the water. Let’s take a quick look at why some Staffies don’t like swimming.

As a breed, Staffies are broad-chested, often with the weight of their head not being proportionate to the rest of the body. These factors make it difficult for Staffies to keep their heads above the water and move through it with ease. It can be off-putting for Staffies to re-enter the water after they have encountered difficulties before. 

Different types of Staffies will struggle with swimming more than others too. Staffordshire bull terriers, for example, seem to have more trouble swimming than American Staffordshire Terriers. Those terriers that have been bred with other dogs can sometimes enjoy swimming more and have better success. This will depend on their weight and how wide they are; smaller Staffies might be better suited to swimming.

It’s worth remembering that each dog is different, and just because some Staffies don’t like swimming doesn’t mean your Staffie will also hate it. Introduce them to the water gradually and at their own pace. It took a year or so, but now our dog loves a little splash and swimming! 

Do Staffies like the water?

Generally speaking, yes, Staffies like the water! As a breed, Staffies tend to be happy in the water and are likely to jump in the river or stream and play. 

There are some exceptions to this, of course, and you might find some Staffies avoiding the water like the plague or gingerly dipping a paw into the water. This is because Staffies are not natural swimmers and can struggle in the water as a breed. If your dog has had a bad experience in the past in water, they can be scared by it and refuse to go in (making bath time a nightmare). 

In these cases, gentle coaxing, lots of positive comments, treats, and affection will go a long way to warming your dog up to the water. That being said, if they seem wary of the water or are reluctant to swim, it can be best not to force them.

Show them that water can be fun, have some splash play, but forcing your dog into the water when they seem afraid can make the issue worse. As they are not natural-born swimmers, if your Staffy seems reluctant of the water, you will be relieved to know that it isn’t just your dog.

If you are concerned about your Staffie, a trip to a behavioral therapist can be beneficial. These are most helpful if your Staffie has some serious anxiety around bath time or runs a mile from a small puddle.

Can American Staffordshire Terriers swim?

Do staffies like swimming

With a bit of training and coaching, your American Staffordshire Terrier can swim! Like other breeds, some natural swimming instincts will be there, but Staffies generally need some training to help develop their swimming skills. 

You can do this when your American Staffordshire Terrier is as young as six months old, using shallow water and throwing sticks or balls for your dog to catch and return to you. We recommend using shallow and fairly still water to avoid any unexpected currents posing a threat to your dog while training it in the water! 

It’s also a good idea to try swimming once your dog has mastered recall and any leash training you have been doing with the dog. There is nothing worse than having to wade into the river to retrieve a dog, clearly enjoying themselves!

While you can teach your American Staffordshire Terrier to swim, it might not be an easy ride. Compared to smaller breeds, Staffies can often face difficulties when swimming. The size and weight of their heads compared to their bodies can make it difficult to swim, and they often find it difficult to keep their head up and out of the water. 

However, there are plenty of American Staffordshire Terriers that do manage to swim quite successfully and still love the water. Whether it’s playing by the sea, a river, or even puddles, these dogs do enjoy a cool-off or splash in the water.

It might be difficult initially for your Staffie to swim, so it’s best to take the training slowly and not put too much pressure on the dog. Avoid deep water or anywhere with fast or unknown currents so that your dog does not get into any distress while swimming. It’s best to use shallow water with your Staffie and ensure both you and your dog are safe at all times to avoid any dangerous situations!

You might also have more luck with your American Staffordshire Terrier learning to swim if they are not a pure breed. If the dog has been bred with another breed that typically enjoys the water or is smaller and more agile, your Staffie might find itself more at home and comfortable in the water and have better luck swimming. This is not always the case, and we recommend following all safety procedures; after all, we all know how quickly water can go from fun to danger!

If you have any concerns, it’s always worth raising them with a vet or a dog trainer who will be able to offer you advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs. 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.