Do Pitbulls Like Water?

Just like people, individual Pitbulls have individual preferences regarding their love (or hatred) of water! But most Pitbulls do enjoy spending time sitting in or wading through shallow waters and running through the garden sprinklers! 


Do Pitbulls Like Water?


As we mentioned earlier, love of water tends to be a personal preference for dogs, but some dogs have more affinity for water than others because of their breed.

The pitbull is not a “water dog,” and so it does not have the natural draw to water that dogs like the Labrador retriever have. That said, many Pitbulls do enjoy time in the water.

Most often, you will find Pitbulls rolling in muddy puddles, wading through shallow waters, running through sprinklers, and stretched out on the steps in the shallow end of the pool.


What is a Pitbull?


Before talking about whether Pitbulls like water, we must first clarify what a Pitbull is. People tend to lump all “bully breeds” into one group, but each breed has distinguishing characteristics.

Bully breeds include:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Caucasian Shepherd Dog
  • American Bulldog
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • English Mastiff
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Bull Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Cane Corso Italiano
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Olde English Bulldogge
  • English Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • French Bulldog
  • Great Dane
  • Boston Terrier
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Pug
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Some of these breeds are easier to tell apart from others. Dogs that are often confused for Pitbulls (and vice versa) include:

  • Presa Canario
  • American Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cane Corso
  • Bullmastiff
  • Olde English Bulldogge
  • Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

Perhaps the breed most frequently confused with the Pitbull is the American bully.

Compared to the American bully, the Pitbull has features that are much more proportionate. The Pitbull is taller, slenderer (although muscular,) and less intimidating in appearance than the disproportionate American bully.


Can Pitbulls Swim?


It is a popular misconception that all dogs can swim. Many dogs can swim, some dogs can’t swim, and others can swim but don’t because they don’t feel comfortable in the water. Pitbulls tend to fall into the last category.

Most dog breeds throughout history were bred for a specific purpose. The Newfoundland was bred to work in the icy waters in Newfoundland and Labrador. As such, the Newfie has various physical attributes that make this job easier, for example, their webbed toes and thick warm fur.

The Pitbull was bred for bull-baiting, so they were bred to be muscular, compact, and athletic. While these attributes helped the dogs to survive close encounters with bulls, they don’t make the Pitbull a great swimmer.

A slender tapered tail doesn’t make much of a rudder, and although a muscular build provides power, their substantial heft means that Pitbulls must work a little harder to stay afloat.

Think for a moment about a walrus – although very large, blubber insulates their body. Blubber is a thick layer of fat, and fat is lighter than ocean water, which provides the walrus with buoyancy. Should the walrus be solid muscle like the Pitbull; however, they would struggle not to sink. For many Pitbulls, this initial feeling of sinking is enough to turn them off the idea of swimming altogether.

It isn’t to say that Pitbulls cannot swim – some do swim and enjoy it immensely. Others, however, may need a little more encouragement and a few swimming lessons before they are willing to brave anything deeper than a backyard wading pool!


Getting Your Pitbull to Swim


If you decide to test the waters with your Pitbull, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind.

  • Never force your Pitbull into the water! If your dog is too scared to get into the water, your forcing them in will only reinforce their fear and could prevent your dog from ever giving swimming a try! Let your dog take things at its own pace!
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to come into the water, try luring them with a favorite toy, and don’t forget to give plenty of praise!
  • If your Pitbull will get into the water, be sure that they have a properly fitting life jacket (this means having to measure your dog!) and that you are in the water with them just in case anything should go wrong.
  • Make sure that you have an easily accessible pet ramp in your pool so that your dog can learn to exit the pool by themselves. With a sturdy ramp in place, even if your dog falls into the pool accidentally, they have a safe exit and know how to get to it.
  • Invest in an anchored pool cover that covers the top of your pool and the sides. This type of pool cover makes it impossible for your dog to fall into the pool and accidentally drown.
  • Even if your dog knows how to swim, always keep an eye on them when they are in the water. Even strong swimmers can get caught in a current, get snagged on something underwater, or have a medical event that makes it difficult for them to swim.

Conclusion / Summary


The average Pitbull does not mind a wallow in a muddy puddle or wading through the rising tide. For most of these gentle giants, though, staying afloat requires much more effort than it should, so they would much rather keep all four feet on the ground!

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