Can a Chihuahua Swim?

The tiny, fiery dog breed is known for many things, but not necessarily their swimming abilities. While Chihuahuas can swim, it takes time for them to grow accustomed to the water and train their swimming paws.

Whether you live near a lake or have a pool in your backyard, your furry friend can learn to swim and swim efficiently. However, even if you teach your Chihuahua to swim, you must keep dangers at the forefront of your mind to ensure they remain safe.

No matter your reasoning for wanting to know if your Chihuahua can swim, there are ways you can ensure your pup stays safe while enjoying the water with the rest of the family.

The Danger of Letting Chihuahuas Swim

Before letting your little ball of energy loose in a body of water, it is vital to understand the dangers associated with allowing Chihuahuas to swim. 

white chihuahua in a pool
Yes Chihuahuas can swim!

Small Figure

The average height of a Chihuahua is seven inches and rarely exceeds six pounds. This means that even in calm bodies of water, they can be pushed around easily. Therefore, it is imperative to take precautions to avoid letting the water splash over their heads, causing them to be scared.

Because they are pushed around quickly, it makes it challenging for them to gain traction and make progress swimming through the water. 

Tiny Paws

Chihuahuas tiny paws can also cause issues when it comes to swimming effectively. Because their feet are so small, it is difficult for them to make progress with every stroke. This difficulty causes them to tire out faster and not last as long in the water.

chihauhua loves water
Some Chihuahua’s LOVE water and swimming

Easily Frightened

Because Chihuahuas are so tiny, they tend to become easily frightened. If they are swimming in open waters and a loud noise scares them or something touching them when they aren’t expecting it, they may freak out and exude more energy than necessary.

These triggers can cause them to tire quickly and not maintain their energy to stay afloat in the water.

Chihuahua’s are famous for shaking – either through fright or cold.

Small Dog Syndrome

If you know a Chihuahua, you know that they are the smallest dog breed out there with the most prominent personality. When they feel threatened, they turn into the loudest and bravest dog breed out there. This occurrence is known as Small Dog Syndrome.

Because Chihuahua’s obtain Small Dog Syndrome, they may feel they need to make themselves feel or seem bigger if swimming with large dogs, especially if they feel threatened by them. This feeling may cause them to go under the water, which is never a good thing.

It is also vital to watch small dogs when they are swimming with larger dogs as the excitement and choppy water can cause them to struggle.

chihuahua swimming
Cute Chiahuahua swimming!

How to Train Your Chihuahua to Swim

Teaching your Chihuahua to swim is essential if you live near a body of water or have a pool. While there is no guarantee that your Chihuahua will pick up on the process, teaching them to swim may save their life.

Follow these steps to get your Chihuahua acclimated to water so they can navigate any water they come in contact with, whether it is intentional or not.

Use a Life Vest 

If you want to be 100% sure your dog will succeed in the lake or pool, consider getting them a life jacket. 

Dog life jackets come in all colors and sizes, so you can ensure your furry friend has what they need to remain safe in the water while growing accustomed to the necessary steps to stay afloat. Because Chihuahua’s are so tiny, you will most likely need an extra-small-size life jacket. 

Slowly Introduce Them to the Water 

You don’t want to drop your Chihuahua in the water and let them fend for themselves. Enter the water with your pup and slowly lower them down into the water in their life jacket. 

chiahuahua swimming cold
Watch out for wind chill after swimming, especially for small dogs.

Show Them How to Paddle 

Once in the water, they should naturally begin paddling. If your dog doesn’t start kicking its feet, use the handle on the life vest to drag them around the water. Doing this should stimulate their thought process enough to realize that they must make movements to advance through the water.

Release Them to Swim on Their Own 

After they start paddling on their own, let go of the life jacket to see if they begin swimming. If they have learned the process, try swimming away from them and having them swim towards you. If this is successful, go to shallow waters and take off their life vest and have them swim to you. Ensure to stay close just in case they get scared and forget how to swim. 

Show Them How to Enter the Water 

Once your Chihuahua has mastered swimming when placed in the water, teach them how to jump or enter a body of water safely. 

Often when dogs first learn to swim, they get excited and jump into the water, which can cause their head to go underwater. Provide a ramp or walkway into the water to help them easily enter the water without worrying about their head going underwater. 

a long haired chihuahua
A long-haired Chihuahua living its best life outdoors


As with any other breed of dog, a Chihuahua has the instincts needed to know how to swim without training. However, simply putting your tiny dog in the water and hoping for the best isn’t the best way to get them used to the water. (Same goes for all small dogs, including Yorkies)

Chihuahuas are a generally reclusive breed which makes it easy for them to scare. Mixing their antisocial tendencies with the distractions bodies of water can produce, and you could be signing yourself up for disaster.

Ensuring your Chihuahua has the skills or props needed to stay afloat in your local lake or backyard pool successfully is essential to their survival. 

Remember, you can’t force a Chihuahua to do anything. If they hate getting their paws wet, don’t force your dog to do something they’re not comfortable with. However, your dog may enjoy learning to swim, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they can brave any body of water.

Bear in mind you will need to groom and shampoo your Chihauhua if they swim often – whether they have a shedding coat or not.