Greyhounds need a good amount of exercise every day and owners are always looking for new ways for their pets to stay active and have fun. If you’re thinking of taking your dog down to the water then you might be wondering, do Greyhounds swim?
Greyhounds can swim and some love being in the water, but their bodies are not particularly designed for staying afloat. Greyhounds are not very buoyant because they are slender, have a small percentage of body fat, and don’t have webbing between their toes to help them move through the water as other dogs do. However, with training and floatation support, Greyhounds can swim well and enjoy it too.
Swimming can be very enjoyable and a great exercise for your Greyhound if they know what to do. This article will go into detail about how Greyhounds manage in the water, including how you can help them to get swimming and how to decide whether it’s the right pastime for your dog.
Do Greyhounds Swim Naturally?
Some dog breeds take to the water with ease, and many have specific characteristics that make swimming a lot easier. The Portuguese Water Dog, for example, has webbed toes for easy movement in the water and a dense, oily coat to protect them from the cold.
Greyhounds are not designed for being in the water and their short coats and lean physiques can make swimming a bit of a challenge. Greyhounds are part of a group of dog breeds known as “sighthounds” that were bred to hunt their prey using speed and vision. They are perfectly adapted to rapid acceleration and maneuverability on land, but this doesn’t translate very well to the water.
The short coats that Greyhounds have do not produce much oil, which means they don’t have much of a “doggy smell” but it doesn’t offer much protection against the wet and the cold. They also have a very low percentage of body fat, which reduces buoyancy and affects their ability to thermoregulate in the water.
Having slender limbs is great for reducing air resistance while they are sprinting, but it also means that Greyhounds don’t have much surface area to use for pulling themselves through the water either.
Are Greyhounds Good with Water?
Despite the fact that swimming may be a little challenging for them, most Greyhounds do enjoy playing in the water and like a good splash around. Every dog is different, though, and some may have quite an aversion to water, particularly because Greyhounds can get cold very quickly and their skin is sensitive to changes in temperature.
If your Greyhound is very uncomfortable with getting wet, then swimming may not become their new favorite pastime, but you can encourage your dog to feel more comfortable in the water. Good training with lots of positive praise, taking gradual steps, and perhaps the use of some floatation aids can get your Greyhound swimming in no time.
How Can You Get a Greyhound to Swim?
If you want to give your Greyhound the chance to enjoy the fun of a bit of splashing around, you need to get them comfortable and support them while they get used to the idea. There are a few key things to keep in mind that can help when you are teaching your Greyhound how to swim.
Even older Greyhounds may not have seen large bodies of water before, and some might hate getting wet in general. Introduce them to the idea slowly and take things at a gentle pace. Let your dog get confident in the bath and then in very shallow water before you take things to the next level.
Give lots of praise
Positive reinforcement is the best way to teach your dog anything, so give your Greyhound lots of love and praise for being brave and giving swimming a go. You might use treats to encourage them or toys to distract them, so they can start viewing swimming as an enjoyable time.
Keep them safe
Your Greyhound should know that they are safe at all times in the water. This means they should have easy access to an area where they can stand up comfortably, and know that they can get out quickly. It might also mean using a floatation vest to help them feel secure and prevent them from getting too tired.
If your Greyhound finds it difficult to figure out what to do with their legs in the water, you can use your arms to help them stay afloat while they get used to it. Floatation vests are also good for this, but your dog might feel more confident if they can feel you by their side.
Show them how
Don’t forget that your Greyhound is always looking for you for comfort and support, and they are always trying to learn from you as well. You can encourage your dog by getting into the water yourself and showing them that it can be easy and fun to have a swim around together.
There are many different classes and training sessions that allow dogs to learn how to swim and enjoy some time in the water. If you are not confident with how to teach your Greyhound the basics, or you are looking for an appropriate place to get your dog swimming, have a look around for swimming classes that can help you.
Is Swimming Dangerous for Greyhounds?
There are some myths out there that Greyhounds can’t handle swimming because of their body type, but it is perfectly safe as long as you know what you’re doing. There are some risks involved with being in the water for any dog, but greyhounds in particular can struggle if you are not cautious. When taking your dog swimming, you should be particularly aware of:
- The cold. Greyhounds can get cold in the water very quickly, and hypothermia is a very real risk, so keep a close eye on the temperature of your dog at all times.
- Tiredness. As natural sprinters, Greyhounds don’t have a lot of stamina and it can be very tiring trying to stay afloat because they are not naturally buoyant. Floatation vests can help with this, but you should also make sure that your dog can get out of the water quickly if they need to.
- Currents. One of the biggest dangers when swimming, for dogs and humans alike, is the unexpected power of the water. Rivers can move much faster than you think, and the ocean has unpredictable and dangerous currents, so choose the water that your dog is swimming in very carefully. Ponds, pools, and lakes are usually the safest places for dogs to swim.
- Fish or other animals. There can be all sorts of things under the surface, so make sure you know the wildlife that might be around if your dog is going for a dip. You don’t want your pet getting a nasty bite or sting.
- Swallowing water. If your Greyhound is not very confident or is getting tired, they may pant a lot in the water, and they might just take the opportunity to drink while they’re in there. Swallowing a lot of water can make your dog sick, and drinking salt water can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration.
One of the most important rules for taking your dog out swimming is that they should never be out of your sight. Whether they are in a pool in the yard or paddling at a lake, never leave your dog alone in the water.
Is Swimming Good Exercise for Greyhounds?
Though they can be quite lazy for much of the day, Greyhounds need a good amount of vigorous exercise to stay healthy. You should be giving your dog at least an hour of dedicated physical activity every day, and swimming can be a great way to change things up from your usual walk.
Greyhounds are better suited to shorter periods of relatively intense activity rather than long sessions and a swim can provide more exercise than a run. One minute in the water can be the equivalent of three or four minutes running and is known to strengthen the heart and lungs, increase metabolism, and improve circulation.
One of the most common problems that Greyhounds face as they get older is joint damage, and swimming is much easier on the joints than running. It is a low-impact activity that is non-concussive, so it can be really helpful for dogs with conditions like arthritis or dysplasia.
The Verdict: Do Greyhounds Swim?
So, do Greyhounds swim? Despite what some people believe, Greyhounds do swim, and many will really enjoy it as an activity as well as a form of exercise.
Swimming is not naturally easy for Greyhounds because their bodies are not designed to be in the water. They have low body fat, sensitive skin, and short coats, so they are not very buoyant and can get cold quickly. Greyhounds also don’t have webbed feet to help them move and can find swimming tiring, but none of this stops them from getting in the water.
With a bit of training, some patience, and perhaps a buoyancy aid, Greyhounds can learn how to swim comfortably and happily, even if they are not particularly confident at first. A good swim is great for your dog’s health and can be a wonderful experience for you to enjoy together. It is worth a bit of coaxing to get them into the water and have fun.