A dog’s preference for swimming depends on the individual dog, but some breeds do tend to like water than others. Huskies – while happy to play in the water – generally do not care for deep water or swimming.
Do Huskies Like Water?
The husky is an energetic breed well-known for its history as sled dogs. Surprisingly, despite their history in the snow and ice, the husky is not much of a water lover!
A Little Husky History
The Chukchi people of Northeast Asia perfected the Siberian Husky breed over three thousand years with the intent of creating a companion dog capable of pulling their sleds across the tundra.
The husky’s thick double-layered coat is perfect for the single-digit temperatures and freezing winds of the tundra. Their sociability made them ideal for teamwork. Their stamina allowed them to trek over long journeys.
Huskies became a lifesaving opportunity for the Chukchi people to expand their hunting grounds. The breed’s popularity then skyrocketed after the infamous sled dog, Balto, and his team ran 658 miles in five and a half days to get urgently needed diphtheria medication to the residents of Nome, Alaska.
Although the husky now lives as a companion in most homes in the U.S., there are still sled dog teams worldwide that depend on the stamina, strength, and determination of the Siberian Husky!
Why Don’t Huskies Like Water?
It seems peculiar for a dog bred in a snowy, wet climate to dislike water, but there is a good reason behind the avoidance.
Dogs like Labrador Retrievers were bred to work in water; they are strong swimmers and often have a natural affinity for water. However, the Siberian husky was bred to be a land dog in a climate where spending any amount of time in the water meant sure death.
In fact, even in warmer climates where sled dog teams run regularly, dogs and sled masters have been known to fall through weakened ice and develop hypothermia and/or drown. With sea temperatures in Siberia averaging a chilly twenty-eight degrees Fahrenheit, any bodily contact with the water means a significant risk of moderate to severe hypothermia.
The Chukchi people made sure to keep their dogs away from the water, but this lifesaving move also meant that huskies never became strong swimmers. This weakness seems to have stuck with the breed over the generations.
Can Huskies Swim?
Some huskies can swim, but their swimming ability depends strongly on their previous experience. If a puppy learns to swim at a young age, they can become a strong swimmer, but if they do not see water and don’t swim regularly, they often have trouble finding their “sea legs.”
Do Huskies Dislike All Water?
Most husky owners find out that their dogs like to paddle in smaller wading pools and even sit in the sea tide! But they will also tell you that their dogs have no interest in deeper waters or swimming.
Teaching Your Husky to Swim
You must start to work with your husky on water training as soon as possible if you want them to be a strong swimmer. Let’s take a quick look at some tips that can help you to do this…
Get a Life Jacket (Click on image to see on amazon)
Always put your husky in a life jacket before you start teaching them how to swim. People assume that all dogs naturally know how to swim, but this is not always the case. Some dogs even sink as soon as they start to panic! A life jacket will stop this from happening.
Be sure to measure your husky correctly so that their life jacket fits well and won’t dislodge and bob up around your dog’s head as they try to swim!
Make Sure Safety Equipment Is In Place
Before you let your dog get into the pool, make sure that you have:
- A removable ramp in the pool so that if your dog gets too tired, they can get out safely.
- A fence around the pool to make sure that your dog doesn’t fall in.
Get In The Water Too!
When teaching your husky to swim, make sure that you get in the water too! You can’t teach anyone to swim without getting in the water with them, let alone your dog.
As you get into the water, you are letting your husky know that the pool is safe and that they will be safe because you are there too.
Don’t Force Them In!
Call your husky over to you and if they come in, invite them into the shallow end with you. Your dog may begin by standing on the stairs and watching you in the water. Do not force them to get into the water with you; let them take their time.
Your husky may decide that they don’t want to get in the water, and that is fine. Give your dog as much time as they need.
Stay in the Shallow End
If your husky does get into the water with you, stay in the shallow end of the pool. You can encourage them to swim towards you by slowly walking backward while in the shallow end.
Praise your pup as they start to come towards you and begin to swim.
Take Things Slowly
As your dog gets used to swimming, you can begin giving them more freedom to swim in the pool.
You may want to try taking off your dog’s lifejacket once they are more confident swimming. Be sure that you are in the water with your dog when you do this so that if they do have trouble staying afloat, you can help.
Conclusion / Summary
Although huskies are very athletic and capable of traversing the tundra in sub-zero temperatures, they are not strong swimmers. This quality likely comes from thousands of years of Chukchi sled masters trying to preserve their sled dog teams by keeping them away from icy waters!