When you first meet an Australian Shepherd it’s clear that they love physical activity and the outdoors. To many, it makes sense that they would also love to swim. Despite this, many Australian Shepherd owners struggle to introduce their pooch to the idea of a quick dip in the ocean.
Do Australian Shepherds like to swim? Most Australian Shepherds like to swim. Their love of the outdoors and vigorous physical exercise makes swimming an ideal activity. In the summer months, swimming can also provide welcome relief from the heat of the sun.
Australian Shepherds’ finicky nature can lead some owners to believe that this breed of dog isn’t meant for the water, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While some Australian Shepherds can be unsure of water at first — finding deep and moving water intimidating — most quickly overcome their fears.
Getting your Australian Shepherd over their initial swimming anxiety can be a very rewarding task. For many owners, after teaching their pup to swim the challenge actually becomes keeping them out of water! Australian Shepherds are adventurers at heart, so teaching them to swim can mean you have the ideal outdoors companion.
Does My Australian Shepherd Like to Swim?
If you’ve never tried swimming with your Aussie shepherd, it’s likely you have no idea whether they like to do it. As any owner will tell you, Australian Shepherds are incredibly individual on what they do and do not enjoy.
When it comes to their variable preferences, swimming is no exception. You’ll find that while some love swimming, there are a handful of Australian Shepherds who will never approach the water.
If your Australian Shepherd already enjoys a quick wade into a fountain, the pool, or shallow open water, with the right encouragement they may also enjoy to swim. The only way to truly know could be to introduce your Australian Shepherd to the idea of swimming and observe.
Why You Should Teach Your Australian Shepherd to Swim
Australian Shepherds have an intense herding instinct because of their breeding. Couple this with their agility, and energetic nature, and you’ll find that this dog needs a lot of physical and mental exercise.
Many owners find that swimming is an ideal option when it comes to exercise.
And in the summer it can also provide the breed with welcome relief from the heat of the sun.
With such a thick coat, Australian Shepherds need all the help they can get to cool down in the summer months.
Australian Shepherds are incredibly intelligent. But with great intelligence comes great responsibility:
Because of their smarts, Aussies require a great deal of mental stimulation.
But guess what?
Swimming can provide that. Boom!
Left to their own devices, and without proper mental challenges, Australian Shepherds can become a menace in the home.
Do Australian Shepherds Have Webbed Feet?
Despite their love of the water, Australian Shepherds don’t have webbed feet.
If your Australian Shepherd does have webbed toes, they are likely to be a crossbreed and mixed with a breed of dog that does have this webbing.
When Aussies are mixed with Golden Retrievers (a common crossbreed dog) they often have webbed toes. The resulting breed, Australian Retrievers, adore swimming and need no convincing. The unique combination of webbed toes alongside their energetic nature makes them natural swimmers.
While webbed feet can help dogs naturally enjoy the water, this doesn’t mean that purebred Australian Shepherds aren’t meant for swimming.
Australian Shepherds have a natural instinct for water and the outdoors. They’re a herding breed so they also have a double coat, which can make them ideally suited for playing in cold water.
Their strokes might be a little ungraceful but their technique is solid.
How to Teach Your Australian Shepherd to Swim
Aussies have varying temperaments. While some Aussie pups are eager to please their human companions, many of them are famed for their stubborn nature.
Hand-in-hand with being one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, young Australian Shepherds can also be obstinate when it comes to new activities. This is especially true of activities that intimidate them.
So how can you teach an Australian Shepherd to swim? Here are some key tips:
- Start small: Teaching your Australian Shepherd to swim needs to start small and work up. For most pups, things like ocean waves can be overwhelming. Starting the learning process in a calm body of shallow water can help ease your dog’s anxiety.
- Play time: Many owners find starting with a fun activity can help provide a non-threatening distraction when it comes to your Australian Shepherd’s first swim.
- Safety: While most Australian Shepherds have a natural instinct for swimming, it can be helpful to use a life-jacket at first. The safety of a life-jacket can help get your Aussie used to the idea of the water and boost their confidence.
- Patience is key: Because of their intelligence, Australian Shepherds are quick learners. It’s likely that you’ll find only a couple of sessions are necessary before your Aussie shepherd is accustomed to swimming. If this process takes a little longer than expected, don’t give up. What can help with this breed is rewarding small progress.
At the end of the day, Australian Shepherds are as varied in temperament as humans.
While some might eventually take to swimming, it’s important to understand that others may never enjoy it. Some pups might be waders rather than swimmers, loving to play in water without the fear of swimming.
Mini Australian Shepherds are similar to Australian Shepherds when it comes to their enjoyment of the outdoors. Left indoors and with little distraction for too long, and this breed can go a little batty too. Heralded as the perfect adventure dogs, Miniature Australian Shepherds can also enjoy swimming. As with Australian Shepherd’s, introducing them to swimming in a safe way can be key to their enjoyment.
Australian Shepherds, like any breed, can sometimes smell a bit musty after a few dips in the ocean or river. This is no reason to bathe them more often. Like most dogs, the amount you bathe them should be determined by their lifestyle. For a working dog a bath once every 2-3 months is more than enough, this is also true for Australian Shepherds. If your Australian Shepherd remains relatively clean after a few months you should wait longer to bathe them.
Brushing can also be an effective way of removing dirt. This is often better than bathing because it doesn’t remove the important oils that cover your Australian Shepherd’s coat. Bathing can result in dry skin. Brushing your Australian Shepherd’s coat on a weekly basis can help prevent the build-up of dirt and matting.
Just like humans, Aussies can be prone to buildup of water in their ears after swimming. In extreme cases this can lead to an infection because bacteria flourish in warm environments like ears. Like all dogs, Australian Shepherds have ears that are L-shaped, meaning it’s easy to get water stuck inside their ears. The best way to avoid infection is to dry their ears after swimming. Something as simple as towel-drying your pooches ears after swimming can save them a lot of discomfort later. You could also use a dog-specific drying solution after this, to ensure the water is gone. When done, you can let nature take its course. Your Aussie will probably shake their head, ejecting the water. After this, be sure to very gently dab a cotton swab in the ear to suck up any remaining excess water. It’s not wise to use a cotton swab . Just like with human ears, you run the risk of bursting their eardrum if you use a cotton swab incorrectly.