Can French Bulldogs Swim? How To Keep Them Safe

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As the owner of a Frenchie, you might be wondering – can French bulldogs swim? Like many dog lovers, you may want your Frenchie to accompany you in the water or while doing all sorts of water-based activities. We’ve gathered all the information you need to know about French bulldogs and swimming. 


French Bulldogs Cannot Swim


Can French bulldogs swim? French bulldogs cannot swim, and it’s always important that you monitor your pup when they’re near a water source. 

It’s not just Frenchies; all bulldogs are not great swimmers. French bulldogs have three traits that prevent them from swimming, and they share these traits with several other breeds, who also cannot or should not swim. 


Muscle-Heavy Body 

The French bulldog, much like the English, has a dense and muscle-heavy body. French bulldogs weigh less than 28 pounds, but a lot of that weight sits in their chest, stomach, and back end. 

French bulldog’s bodies are solid and top-heavy, meaning it is all too easy for a Frenchie to sink below the surface of the water, even if it’s pretty shallow. The French bulldog’s body does not naturally float. 


Flat Face 

For a French bulldog, keeping your nose and mouth above the water is very difficult. This is because bulldogs have small, flat faces. 

The scientific name for these flat-faced breeds is brachycephalic. It means your Frenchie was born with a broad, short skull, and it’s nose and nasal passages are short. Because of this, your Frenchie will have a tough time keeping their head above water while still being able to breathe. 


Small, Short Legs

Combined with their heavy bodies and flat faces, the third trait that makes the French bulldog unable to swim is their short, tiny legs. While some dogs have long legs with paws made for doggy paddling, the French bulldog has legs that are short, squat, and usually not powerful enough to hold their top-heavy bodies above the water. For a French bulldog, trying to stay afloat can be dangerous. 


can french bulldogs swim in water


Can You Teach or Train a French Bulldog to Swim? 


Some pet owners may wonder, can you train a French Bulldog to swim? Since Frenchies cannot swim on their own, is it possible to help them swim by hiring a dog trainer or specialist? The answer is no. 

Your French bulldog can’t swim because of its muscular body, short nose, and little legs, not because it doesn’t know how! You can help your Frenchie become more comfortable in the water, but you cannot teach it to swim. 


What Can I Do to Protect my French Bulldog From the Water? 


Like many dogs, the French bulldog has a friendly and curious personality. This means they may not be aware enough to stay away from water, either inside or outside your home. 

It is up to you, the pet owner, to make sure that your French bulldog stays away from any source of water, even the bathtub! For an outdoor water source, like a pool or a pond, keep your Frenchie on a leash to protect them, or invest in a dog-proof fence for the area. 

can french bulldogs swim safely


How Can I Enjoy Water-based Activities With My French bulldog Safely? 


As a pet owner you may want to do water-based activities with your Frenchie, even though it cannot swim. Your French bulldog cannot swim alone and it is dangerous to put them in the bathtub without help or supervision. Thankfully, conscientious dog owners have invented tools to help your Frenchie enjoy the water with you without putting them in danger. Here are two ways to keep your pet safe during water-based activities. 


Doggy Life Jackets 

A doggy life jacket is one way to make sure your Frenchie stays afloat while in the water. The life jacket provides the buoyancy French bulldogs do not naturally have and counteracts the weight from their dense and heavy bodies.

There are life jackets explicitly made for Frenchies, and most come in several fun colors. Your doggy life jacket will come with handles in case you need to lift your Frenchie out, and a D-Ring which will connect to your leash. 


Top selling dog life jackets


Puppy Pool 

If you realize that the beach or pond is too dangerous an area for your Frenchie to swim in, it may be time to invest in a pool that is just for your puppy. Some people may use a children’s wading pool, but puppy pools are made specifically with your pet in mind.

It’s essential to get a pool made of non-toxic materials with a non-slip bottom. Always make sure the water is low enough for your Frenchie to lie in without covering their nose or mouth. 


Top selling puppy pools:


Can I Safely Use Water to Cool Down My Dog? 


Like other flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds, the French bulldog is prone to overheating and heat stroke if temperatures outdoors or indoors get too high.

Since many dog owners turn to the beach or the pool to relieve their pup from the heat, it’s crucial to find other ways to cool down your French bulldog that do not put your pet at the risk of drowning. The following purchase should help your pet beat the heat and stay safe. 


A Doggie Cooling Vest

Just like any other pup, your French bulldog will start to get hot and uncomfortable if the temperatures inside or outside get too high. 

Investing in a cooling vest for your French bulldog can allow them to happily play or rest inside or outside your home while keeping their temperature down from unsafe levels.

After wetting the vest with cold or cool water, put it on your Frenchie and provide instant and consistent heat protection. 



Top selling cooling vests for dogs:

Final Thoughts


While your Frenchie cannot swim, there are safe ways to help them escape the summer heat and enjoy a little play time in the water. Since your confident and curious Frenchie is not a good swimmer, always watch them closely and use a safety device if you’re spending time near the water.


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rachael barkzine

About the author

Rachael is the co-founder and head writer at Barkzine. Owner of one elderly pug, she’s dedicated to helping other dog owners create healthy, happy, lives with their furry best friends.



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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.

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BarkZine is a small team of devoted dog owners – so we understand what it’s like to be obsessed with your pup! We consult with veterinarians and dog behavior experts to bring you the best advice for your furry companions.