Can Rottweilers Swim? (How To Train a Rottie To Swim?)

If you’re planning a vacation involving lots of time by the water and want to bring your Rottweiler, you’re surely wondering—can Rottweilers swim? Yes, Rottweilers can swim. But their initial swimming abilities often put dogs like the Irish Water Spaniel and Chesapeake Bay Retriever to shame. 

So, before you toss a ball into the water expecting your Rottie to breeze through it on their first try, it’s best to give them some training. I’ve had first-hand experience teaching Rottweilers how to swim and will guide you through the tips and tricks I learned along the way.

can Rottweilers swim
Can Rottweilers swim? How to train a Rottie to swim?

Why Aren’t Rottweilers Great Swimmers?

Although Rottweilers can swim, it’s unlikely your Rottie will win a swimming contest when paired with other dog breeds.

That’s because Rottweilers have a dense, muscular build

Historically, the Romans used Rotties to guard their herds of livestock. So, these dogs developed thick, dense bodies that make them ideal for dwelling on the land.

The good news is that Rottweilers don’t make the list of dogs that shouldn’t swim at all. Luckily, they don’t suffer from short legs or brachycephalic syndrome, which makes it hard for dogs with short snouts to breathe while swimming.

Rottweiler running
Rottweiler running on the beach with other dogs.

When You Shouldn’t Take a Rottweiler Swimming?

There are certain situations that I don’t recommend taking your Rottie for a swim. They include:

  • Old age
  • Leg deformities
  • Any other debilitating medical condition

Of course, if your Rottie fears water, forcing them to swim is never okay. Doing so can cause them to panic and continue hating swimming at best and drowning at worse.

The good news is that even Rottweilers who are fearful of swimming can often learn to overcome their hesitancy around bodies of water as long as you use positive reinforcement techniques.

sad Rottweiler
Rottweiler being sad after a punishment.

How To Train Your Rottweiler To Swim?

If you’re chomping at the bit to spend the summer splashing in the water with your Rottie, the steps below will help you teach them to swim in a safe and comfortable environment.

Step 1: Choose a Location

Pick a place to teach your Rottweiler to swim with a gradual slope leading from the shore into the water.

Swimming pools are typically a terrible place to teach a Rottweiler to swim since they drop off too steeply too quickly (and that’s assuming you don’t have an above-ground pool). 

Choosing a body of water that’s still or slow-moving is also essential. You don’t want to throw your Rottie into a situation of having to learn the ropes of swimming against a current.

Rottweiler sits on sand
Rottweiler sits by the beach.

Step 2: Use a Lifejacket

A canine lifejacket is the best way to keep your Rottie safe when teaching them how to swim. 

Plus, having a lifejacket you can use if you go out on a boat will be helpful, as this is a situation when your Rottweiler should always have it on. 

But once they get the hang of swimming from shore, it’ll be safe to take off their lifejacket so they can frolic more freely in the water. You don’t have to worry if your Rottie’s head dips under the water for a few seconds, as dogs can hold their breath underwater. 

Step 3: Accompany Your Rottie

One of the worst things you can do when teaching your Rottweiler how to swim is tossing them in the water and letting them figure it out on their own. Instead, they’ll feel more comfortable having you beside them as they move into the water.

You might not need to put your bathing suit on for the first time or two. Instead, let your Rottie smell the water, touch it with their nose, paw at it, and do whatever else they desire until they become comfortable enough to walk beside you into the water.

Depending on your Rottweiler’s history with water, coaxing them to put their paws into it might be a huge feat. That’s okay; praise them and reward them with a treat. 

Rottweiler licks her owner
Rottweiler and her owner are playing at the park.

Step 4: Revisit the Water

Every Rottweiler will have a different comfort pace for learning to swim. If you have a curious Rottie without a history of abuse, you might be able to fly through these steps. 

Other Rottie owners may need to take their Rottweiler back to the water over the course of days or weeks before they’re comfortable enough to swim. Remember Rotties can be a little temperamental, so gradual exposure is ideal.

Whatever pace your Rottweiler wants to go is okay. The important thing is to visit the water consistently and to encourage them by using positive reinforcement techniques to get closer to or walk a little deeper into the water with each visit.

Step 5: Support Your Dog Beneath Their Belly

Once your Rottweiler goes deep enough into the water to paddle, support them by gently holding them beneath their stomach. Although the lifejacket will ensure your dog remains afloat, having you physically support them will help calm them.

Make sure to stay away from your Rottie’s legs so that you don’t interfere with their paddling efforts. And, of course, offer your dog lots of praise.

teach Rottweilers to swim
An owner teaches his Rottweiler to swim by alake.

Step 6: Take Off the Life Jacket

Once you feel confident that your Rottweiler has got the hang of paddling, it’s time to remove its life jacket.

At this point, you can also back off from supporting their belly. However, you should stay in the water when they swim without a lifejacket for the first time, just in case they need support.

If your Rottweiler does well swimming on its own without you or the lifejacket supporting them, you can officially consider them trained at swimming.

Tips When Teaching Your Rottie To Swim

When considering the question, “Can Rottweilers swim?” it’s important to consider some basic safety practices. So, before you introduce your Rottie to the water, keep the following in mind.

Use a Leash

Your Rottweiler might surprise you and be eager to jump in the water, perhaps chasing a branch they see in the water. But even if they appear fearless of the water, starting their swimming training on a leash is important.

Swimming takes a lot of energy and uses muscles your Rottweiler might not be used to. So, it’s vital to keep them on a leash until they get the hang of how far they can swim away from shore while still having enough stamina to return.

Rottweiler by the lake
Training a Rottweiler by the water.

Pick a Safe Swimming Spot

Many factors can make a body unsafe for your Rottie to swim, including:

  • A strong current
  • Excessive debris in the water
  • Steep drop-offs in the water
  • Dangerous aquatic wildlife

Regarding the aquatic wildlife, if you live in an area with alligators or snapping turtles, teaching your dog to swim in a murky pond or another place where these animals live isn’t wise. 

Rottweiler stands on the rock
Rottweiler stands on a rock by the river.

Choose a Quiet Area

Selecting a quiet place to teach your Rottie to swim also ties into safety. For example, if you bring your Rottweiler to an area with lots of dogs and people, they might become too distracted to focus on swimming.

The issue can get even worse if other dogs are in the water. Whether your Rottweiler loves or hates other dogs, they may push themselves to pay a visit to their fellow swimming canine companions.

Rottweiler at the lake
Rottweiler and his owner. Good dog!

Use an Experienced Dog Friend

Although it isn’t healthy to have excessive amounts of dogs and distractions around when you’re teaching your Rottie to swim, bringing a calm, experienced-at-swimming canine friend can be an excellent way to teach your dog the ropes.

Using a fellow dog to help teach your Rottie to swim is especially helpful if your beloved pet is fearful of the water. By observing the other dogs’ fearlessness, your Rottweiler might become bolder by testing out a swim.

three Rottweilers swimming together
The three Rottweilers enjoy swimming together at the lake.

Carry Treats

Your Rottie surely loves you and finds comfort in your presence. But when it comes to teaching them to swim, rewarding them with a yummy treat may come in handy.

You can use treats however you see fit, depending on your dog’s comfort level with the water. In some cases, rewarding your Rottweiler with a treat simply by walking up to the shoreline might make sense. Other Rotties could benefit from using treats to coax them deeper into the water.

After a Rottie goes swimming, give them a rinse with water. If there is sand or mud – then they may need a full shampoo and clean to protect the skin. Carry plenty of extra treats for a reward if there does end up being some grooming! (Shedding dogs like the Rottweiler are not as used to grooming procedures as many non-shedding breeds).

dog treats
Dog treats from a paper bag.

So, Can Rottweilers Swim?

Yes, your Rottweiler can absolutely swim as long as they’re in good health. But the better question is, “Does your Rottweiler want to swim?”

Forcing a Rottweiler to swim can harm their physical and emotional health. These dogs aren’t a naturally water-loving breed. So, it makes sense for them to be hesitant about water, and some might never feel comfortable getting their paws wet.

The good news is that in many cases, Rottie owners can teach their dogs to swim. I’ll let you start the process, and I wish you luck!