Poodles are sophisticated dogs and one of the most intelligent breeds with a hypoallergenic coat suitable for many families. But have you ever wondered if they liked jumping into the water and swimming as exercise?
Short answer: Yes, Poodles love the water, and they are one of the best swimmers in the dog world! Their love for water stems from their history and origins.
The History of Poodles and Water
Poodles became popular in France, where they became the country’s national dog. But before that, this dog breed originated in Germany, originally bred to work as water retrievers.
People say that their name comes from the German word, “Pudel,” meaning “puddle,” or “to splash about.” In France, the French word for Poodle is “Caniche,” from the word “Chien canard,” loosely translating to “duck dog.”
While there are still disputes about whether Poodles originated from Germany or France, their etymologies already show that this dog breed and the water have a close connection. Many people refer to Poodles as Water Dogs!
Since the Poodle was bred and trained to work as a water retriever, or waterfowl hunters, back then, the breed’s owners would command their Poodles to head to the water, retrieving any kill they get.
That is why these dogs donned the Poodle clip, which exposed certain parts of their bodies to help them make them quicker in the water, but also left puffs of hair around the upper torso and joints to protect their vital organs and joints from the cold. The Poodle also has the infamous pom-pom tail and head not meant for aesthetics, but for hunters to see their Poodle regardless of where they are in the water.
The Poodle’s Webbed Feet
Besides their origins and hairstyle, Poodles have another physical trait that helps them swim efficiently: Their webbed feet!
While all dog breeds have some degree of webbed feet, Poodles have more than the rest. Because of their webbed feet, they can paddle in the water quickly.
The Poodle’s Curly Coat
Furthermore, Poodles have a unique coat. They only have a single coat layer instead of the double layers that most dog breeds have. As a result, Poodles own a very dense coat that makes it easier to swim.
Their short, dense, and curly single layer of the coat also helps repel water from the Poodle while giving their bodies enough insulation in cold water.
The Poodle’s Mental Traits
Besides physical traits, they also have mental characteristics that make them excellent swimmers!
For starters, poodles are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are also obedient and eager to please, easily memorizing commands and wanting to do what their humans ask them to.
Poodles are keener to swim while young, and you can leverage the interest by training him to swim while he’s still a pup.
Furthermore, Poodles have a ton of energy, being playful and energetic pets. They perform excellently in agility, hunt tests, and obedience competitions because of it! So, of course, they appreciate various physical and mental activities that help them expend the high energy levels they have, including swimming.
Do Poodles Like Water?
These physical traits reflect all Poodle varieties, the Standard Poodle, or Miniature, and Toy Poodles. Every Poodle was designed for swimming excellently and for loving the activity.
Miniature Poodles, in particular, are the most hyperactive among the Poodle varieties and will most likely love to head to the waters or engage in any other physical activity! The same goes for Standard Poodles, though they are less hyperactive than Miniature Poodles. Toy Poodles, on the other hand, are hyperactive but tire out quicker, given their size.
We recommend keeping your smaller Poodles away from the deep ends of the pool or body of water unless you’re confident in their swimming abilities.
Many Poodles won’t shy away from the water, being natural swimmers that want to head to the pool or beach when they can. Think of them as Labradors or Golden Retrievers who are eager to jump into bodies of water. When placed in the water, most Poodles will start moving their legs naturally, keeping themselves afloat.
Not only that, but many Poodles also love baths and playing with sprinklers or hoses. Many Poodle owners switch their sprinklers or hoses on for their Poodles to play along, fun activity during the hot summer days.
That said, not all Poodles will love the water! That will still depend on your Poodle’s unique characteristics. While your dog has the physical traits to be an excellent swimmer, this doesn’t mean he will want to swim because all dogs are different.
For instance, some Poodles love to play fetch in shallow water. However, they don’t want to swim in the deep waters and refuse to swim if they can’t feel the bottom. Or some Poodles love all types of water, while others choose to stay away from it.
It may be from a traumatic incident involving the water, fear of not being introduced to the water as a puppy, or just plain personal preference.
But don’t worry! There are ways to get your Poodle to swim and like it.
Do Poodles Like Baths?
Besides swimming in pools and other water bodies, Poodles interact with water through bath time. While many Poodles love the water and swimming, some of them despise baths.
It can happen for several reasons, similar to why some Poodles don’t like swimming. It can be from using the wrong shampoo, not introducing them to baths earlier, or poor grooming to the point the mats and tangles hurt the dog during baths.
There’s still hope in getting your dog to like water during bath time, such as:
- As much as possible, introduce baths to your Poodle as a puppy, doing so every 3-4 weeks.
- Brush your Poodle’s coat daily and right before bathing him to prevent hurting him.
- Use a gentle shampoo product.
- Use positive reinforcement throughout baths for your Poodle to feel great throughout the experience. Praise your Poodle during baths, award with favorite treats, play with favorite toys or do something that will make your dog happy, which results in a positive association with baths.
Do Poodles Like Boating?
Another dun water-related activity is boating, which many anglers love. Being water retrievers, Poodles make excellent boating partners, but again, some may not like it, primarily because of the rocking motion that may cause seasickness.
Help your Poodle enjoy boating by installing a dog ladder to your boat and a safety line for your Poodle to prevent him from going overboard. Train your Poodle to get in and out of boats. You can also maybe ask the veterinarian for some tips or medication to help with any possible seasickness.
What Happens When My Poodle Hates the Water?
Whether you have a Poodle puppy or an adult, it’s best to teach them to swim! Not only is that an excellent exercise, but there may be situations where they’ll need to swim or at least expose themselves to water.
If your Poodle hates the water, don’t worry; It happens! But you can try to get your Poodle to join you on the water fun. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Ensure that you have a lot of patience and keep a relaxed attitude as you bring your Poodle to the water.
- Let your Poodle feel familiar with its surroundings and the water, starting with shallower water, such as ponds, streams, or kiddie pools.
- It’s best to start in the bathtub, where it isn’t too wide or deep. The water should be shallow, enough for your Poodle to practice getting all the nose and paws wet.
- Never force your Poodle to go to the deep water. Start in the shallowest area, allowing your dog to adjust when it wants to.
- Relax and coax your dog to come to you gently if you’re in the pool or shore. Again, don’t pull him in and let him experiment and test the water first.
- Make the whole water experience enjoyable! Bring your Poodle’s favorite toys and treats for him to associate the water with something fun and exciting.
- Allow the introduction to be gradual, allowing your Poodle to feel confident and relaxed in the water. Do NOT yell or startle your Poodle, as this would make them feel more scared of the water (and of their owner).
- If your Poodle loves to play fetch, try leveraging his retriever instincts to encourage him to love the water! Throw a ball that floats to the shallow area and let your Poodle fetch it. Gradually throw it farther to the deepwater while still making sure your Poodle can swim.
When training your Poodle to swim, think of it as teaching your children to swim for the first time. Take the lessons slowly but surely, reassuring your Poodle that the water is completely safe and fun. Don’t show any signs of fear or anxiety in the water, which your Poodle can pick up on, thus feeling the same way!
Caring for Your Poodle While Swimming
Here are some facts to know about before you take your Poodle for a swim:
- Poodles have higher body temperatures than humans so that they can tolerate colder water. However, not too cold! The water should not be anywhere below 7.22 degrees C (45 degrees F) for your Poodle’s health and comfort.
- Be sure that your Poodle can quickly get out of the swimming pool, as some dogs may drown from exhaustion trying to escape.
- Supervise your Poodle the entire time to ensure he’s having fun and not frantically swimming for help or even drowning. Please keep your eyes on your Poodle and keep him safe as he swims. If the weather seems off and the waves are crashing (if you’re on a beach), skip swimming altogether.
- The best area to teach your dog to swim is in lakes, rivers, or pools, where there aren’t intense waves and the like.
- It’s best to put your Poodle in cute floaties, like a life jacket or red safety harness.
- Get a dog ramp for your pool to make it easier for Poodles to get in and out of it.
- Prevent them from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine, or saltwater, which dehydrates them. You can train Poodles not to drink pool water and always have a bowl of fresh and clean water nearby. While chlorine and saltwater aren’t fatal in small amounts, they can be dangerous if your Poodle keeps drinking it.
- Watch out for any signs of fatigue, and take your Poodle out of the water to rest if you notice he’s tiring out.
- Poodles love to be involved with family activities, so they may be more encouraged to swim when the rest of their family members are in the pool, having tons of fun.
- If your Poodle still feels extremely scared of the water, that’s okay. Respect your Poodle’s boundaries, and don’t push him too far. You can try again next time when your Poodle feels less anxious.
- When your Poodle is swimming, be wary of their nails, which can scratch inflatable pool liners or other people.
Grooming Poodles After Swimming
While taking your Poodle for a swim is fun, there’s after-care to do! When exposed to saltwater or chlorine pools, you need to take more care of their coat afterward. Here are the steps to follow:
- Before going swimming, brush your Poodle’s fur thoroughly to prevent it from tangling and matting easily as he swims.
- After swimming, rinse your Poodle with fresh and cool water thoroughly, washing it down to the skin to remove all the sand, dirt, and other debris. Also, care for your Poodle’s paws and the area near their eyes and ears, wiping it down using pet wipes.
- Poodles are at risk of ear infections, especially those who have long and floppy ears. After the swim, dry their ears out with a clean and dry towel, gently dabbing the moisture and dampness.
- Once you get home, bathe your dog using high-quality canine shampoo made for his coat and conditioner. That will help wash off the chlorine or salt from his skin and hair, along with other dirt and debris trapped under his coat.
- Chlorine can strip away your Poodle’s natural oils, so you may want to use a leave-in conditioner before and after they swim. You may also use a moisturizing conditioner during their baths and include omega-3 fatty acid supplements in their food.