Can Bull Terriers Swim? [The Details To Know]


When it comes to swimming abilities with any dog breed, it often comes down to how often a dog has been exposed to swimming and how much practice they have had. A Bull Terrier is no different.

Nonetheless, suppose you currently own a Bull Terrier or have been raising a Bull Terrier. You may be curious about what activities you can do with your new dog. Swimming may be one activity you are anxious to try.

I have been raising a Terrier myself for the past 3 years and am an avid fan of the Bull Terrier dog breed, and here is what I can tell you on this topic.

Can Bull Terriers Swim?

Yes, Bull Terriers can swim. Bull Terriers can swim when they are exposed to swimming often. A Bull Terrier that has never been swimming in the past can fear water and struggle to swim efficiently. Bull Terriers can swim but are not known to be one of the best swimming dogs.

I know that answer may be slightly short of the answer you are looking for, so I decided to extend this discussion and cover everything you should know before attempting to take a Bull Terrier swimming for the first time.

By the end of this discussion, you should know what safety precautions to take with your Bull Terrier while swimming and all other considerations you should consider during the process.

Here is how I intend to layout the information for you today:



Bull Terriers And Swimming

Dogs can be odd creatures sometimes.

A Bull Terrier, for being so muscular and being known to be fearless, can show fear in the most innocent situations and be as bold as a super-hero in other cases.

This can easily be the situation you may experience with swimming with your Bull Terrier.

That fearless dog you have been raising that will tackle anything in life with joy may not be so quick to jump into the water like you may have expected.

That is why it is essential for the socialization process with swimming to occur before trying to go for a full-day of lake fun with your Bull Terrier and the entire family.

Bull Terriers are large dog breeds with muscular bodies.

Not to mention, they have short legs, which I think we can all agree makes swimming slightly more complicated.

Suppose you decide to swim with your Bull Terrier.

They are not necessarily built for typical games of fetch or water sports that involve long durations of time or long distances of swimming to be involved.

At least without the proper guidance, supervision and even necessary gear before attempting the swim.

That does not mean that you cannot take a Bull Terrier swimming or that they will not enjoy it.

It merely means that you need to be alert and aware and make the situation suitable for your Bull Terrier to have fun while remaining safe while they swim.


Will A Bull Terrier Enjoy Swimming?

All dogs are different, even when they are of the same breed.

This makes it difficult to know if a Bull Terrier will ultimately enjoy swimming or not.

A lot will also depend on what we discussed previously when we talked about a Bull Terrier being socialized to water and swimming right out of the gates.

Here is what I mean by that.

Suppose you recently adopted your Bull Terrier, and they are young or typical adoption age right from the breeder and you know for a fact that swimming is something you will want to try in the future.

In that case, you should start small now.

It is a lot like if you have other pets in the house and how you need to start the socialization process with them beginning at a young age so that they are more comfortable in the future.

Just because swimming is not necessarily a person, or another dog does not mean it does not have its process in the socialization category that needs to be completed.

Take me, for example.

I have a 3-year-old Jack Russell Terrier.

Yes, I am aware that this is an entirely different dog breed.

However, my family enjoys camping and being around the lake.

I even have a small fishing boat that I enjoy taking out fishing as much as possible.

I knew that I would prefer my Jack Russell to go with me on these small fishing trips in the future.

It would have been silly to never take her with me and then a few years later expect her to be 100% comfortable on a boat, in water, or enjoying these activities.

She has never done it before, and dogs are creatures of habit and comfort, so what do you think her reaction to this would be?

Probably skittish, barking at her own reflection in the water and not having the best of time in general.

The point here is simple.

Yes, A Bull Terrier may very much enjoy swimming if you can keep it safe and get them comfortable with the idea of swimming first.

However, I can nearly guarantee that they will not enjoy it very much without being broke into the swimming situations calmly where they can start small and get comfortable first.

Once this happens, taking safe short swims may be extremely enjoyable for a Bull Terrier and a great bonding and exercise routine for the both of you.

Make sure to start young and expose your Bull Terrier to the activities that you want to partake in.

Things will go much smoother for you overall when it is time to participate in those same activities in the future.


Supervise And Show Your Bull Terrier How To Swim First

Remember how I mentioned that you should begin the process slow and break your Bull Terrier into swimming at a steady pace.

Well, now it is time to put that to practice.

While I know not many reading will be considered certified dog trainers for swimming, you still have some work to do.

I am not certified in teaching a kid how to ride a bike without being scared either, but all parents had to do it for our kids to ultimately enjoy the activity going forward.

The same can be said for swimming with your Bull Terrier.

So, without further ado, it is time to teach your Bull Terrier how to swim.

To restate something kind of obvious, Bull Terriers are not a dog breed I would classify as a natural-born swimmer by any means.

Again, this is due to their structure, muscular body, and overall history of the breed.

You will likely need to get them excited for a Bull Terrier, encourage them, and even consider a dog life jacket for extra protection.

Other dog breeds that often need these extra criteria include dogs such as

  • Pitbull Terriers
  • Bull Dogs

Can you see a trend here yet?

Muscular bodies, short legs, and even the way the nose is with these dogs impact their overall ability to swim long durations or long distances.

Here are a few of the necessary steps I would implement to begin socializing your Bull Terrier to water and to begin teaching them to swim:


4 Steps For Teaching A Bull Terrier To Swim


Step 1- Start In Shallow Water With a Leash

In step 1, I want you all to take it easy and slow with your Bull Terrier.

Start with a leash and even a lifejacket if that makes you more comfortable.

Also, start in very shallow water.

Water that is only deep enough to cause little swimming and allows your Bull Terrier to quickly return to a standing position, if necessary, in the water.

Play with your Bull Terrier and talk to them during this phase and allow them to get comfortable first.

Ease any anxiety that they may be showing and begin showing and explaining to them that the water is fun and nothing to be afraid of.

Once you feel good that they are getting comfortable and having a decent time in the water, you can begin trying to dial up the fun factor in step 2.


Step 2- Implement Some Fun

In step 2, I recommend beginning to have some fun with the swimming process.

Start using a tennis ball, a stick, or even a water frisbee and see if you can begin to implement fetch into the water.

You can remain in shallow water and give it a couple of dozen trial throws so that you can see if your Bull Terrier handles the swimming and retrieving without issue and without getting scared.

Once you begin feeling too comfortable, you can start to increase the distance or duration.


Step 3- Increase Duration and Or Distance

Once your Bull Terrier seems comfortable with the water, and it is apparent that they are having a good time, I would recommend that you remove the leash permanently.

The lifejacket can remain.

Nothing is wrong with a dog using a lifejacket for the water that is a bit deeper so that you can feel safe throwing the ball or item you are using a bit further out.

The leash is no longer necessary once it is apparent that your Bull Terrier is having a good time and feels comfortable.

In the beginning, even if you have reached this phase, I would still recommend nothing much more than 1 hour of total water time or exercise until you begin learning the exhaustion point for your dog during these swims and during this exercise.


Step 4- Remain Diligent and Continue To Supervise Swimming Activities

In step 4, my assumption would be that you are now comfortable with your Bull Terrier and their swimming abilities.

At least comfortable enough to enjoy the water and play a game of fetch with them.

At this point, I would say your primary objective is to never let your guard down.

Do not start neglecting to use the life jacket or pushing your luck with distance or overall time in the water.

While your Bull Terrier may be safe, be having a blast and enjoying the water, that does not mean that they will not get exhausted or that you should ever push the limits.

Keep the activities safe for your Bull Terrier and enjoy the new activity that you can bond over.


Equipment I Would Recommend For Swimming With A Bull Terrier

As far as equipment goes for swimming, I would only really recommend 3 essential items that you need to begin trying swimming with your Bull Terrier.

Here are my recommendations:

  • 1 Leash and Collar (For Beginning The Process)
  • 1 Dog Life Jacket Fitted For Your Bull Terrier
  • 1 Item To Use For Fetch

Could you use more items than this or make it more enjoyable?

Sure, without a doubt.

But, in the beginning, these are the basics and will undoubtedly get you started with the swimming process with your Bull Terrier.


Swimming May Not Be Your Bull Terriers Best Trait But It Can Be Enjoyable

Hopefully, this far into this discussion, you can see that swimming is 100% possible with your Bull Terrier.

While they may not be the dog breed that is 100% built for the challenge, that does not mean they cannot be trained to do so or have a blast swimming and exercising with you.

Supervise the situation, keep your Bull Terrier safe, and have some fun, and I can assure you, they will enjoy the process once they are comfortable as well.

Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your Bull Terriers and all your swimming adventures!


Does Your Bull Terrier Go Swimming?

Do you have anything further you can add to this for the community?

Do you have any further recommendations you can provide the readers about a Bull Terrier swimming?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today, and we will see you guys again next time.

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

Recent Posts