Can Yorkies Swim? [Yorkshire Terrier Swimming Advice]

People don’t call the doggie paddle that name without reason. Most dog breeds can swim, even if they don’t do so naturally or frequently.

The Yorkie is included in the majority and doesn’t require much intensive training to do so either. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Yorkies have some favorable genetic traits to help them. But, there’s more to Yorkies swimming than genetics.

can yorkies swim
Can Yorkies swim?


Most terrier breeds are fierce swimmers despite their small stature. However, it is not in their nature to gravitate toward the water like some larger breeds, including Labradors and Poodles. Instead, terriers can learn to swim; they do so effortlessly. 

Since a Yorkie is a terrier breed, it too can learn to swim effortlessly. Not to mention, the species has some favorable traits that aid them in the water, including their coat and personality.


Yorkies have sleek fur. All of that shiny, smooth fur helps them cut through the water during a swim. Plus, their hair isn’t weighed down by a thick undercoat, a factor that prevents other dogs from performing well in the water. 


Yorkies have tons of energy to spare; it’s part of what makes them such fun and lovable dogs, but it’s also a favorable trait to have when it comes to swimming. Their energy and adventurous spirit push them to conquer swimming. Otherwise, they would run scared at the sight of water or freeze as soon as a paw hits the water. 

Teaching Your Yorkie to Swim

yorkies love water
Not every single Yorkie will love to swim – but most end up enjoying the water and the beach

Simply taking your Yorkie to the lake or setting it by the water won’t prompt a natural response to dive into the water. Instead, you have to gradually introduce your Yorkie to the water to get them acquainted and comfortable with the setting.

Then, you can follow the steps listed below to teach your Yorkie how to swim for some more assistance. 

Start in Shallow Water

You might want to consider purchasing a kiddie pool or beginning your Yorkie’s swimming lessons in a shallow pool of water, like a pool sundeck. However, kicking swimming lessons off straight from the deep end can unintentionally scare your Yorkie to the point where they develop a generalized fear of the water. 

Since anxiety is not uncommon among the breed, you can almost expect this traumatic response if you don’t teach your Yorkie correctly. However, the shallow water will give them a sense of security and an introductory lesson since their feet can still feel the ground. 

Stay with Your Pup at all Times

Do not, by any means, toss your dog into the water, leaving it to its own devices. While this technique may work on a larger breed with natural, genetic swimming abilities, it will not work for a Yorkie. Instead, get into the shallow pool with the Yorkie to help it reach its footing and for moral support. 

You might also want to invest in floaties or a dog life-vest for added security. Otherwise, you might want to keep a stabilizing hand on their back at all times to let them know you’re there with them and prevent possible slipping. 

a black yorkie
A Yorkie with a predominantly black coat stands on a wooden floor.

Ease into the Open Water

Once you get situated in the water and your Yorkie feels comfortable, you can guide it into the deeper water. Or, if you began in a kiddie pool, you can transition to a deeper water level or larger pool. 

If you don’t have a dog life vest, hold onto your pup as you enter the open water. Pushing it into the deep on its own can startle it and cause it to panic, whereas keeping a safe hold on it can keep it comfortable and supported. From there, your Yorkie should pick up the standard doggie paddle swimming form. 

Let Go

Once you feel comfortable about your dog’s safety, you can let your Yorkie go and watch them swim laps around the pool. But, don’t let them go for too long, or else they’ll exhaust themselves. 

Creating and Choosing the Environment

official yorkie colors
The official Yorkie colors are a mixture of black, blue, tan and gold.

Besides starting with a shallow pool, you might want to avoid stagnant pools, lakes, and naturally occurring bodies of water. These areas might be suitable for natural swimming breeds, but their conditions can be treacherous for smaller ones. 

For example, a lake’s shallow edge might have rocks covered in algae or other slick materials that can cause your Yorkie to trip. Not to mention, some natural bodies of water harbor harmful bacteria or irritants that can cause irritable reactions to your Yorkie’s sensitive skin and luscious coat. 

Ultimately, you should keep your swimming sessions and lessons in a traditional pool, whether in-ground or blow-up, because you have more control over the environment. For example, you can determine the water’s best temperature and cleanliness and pick up any other hazards around the area. 

A beach without any crazy waves is also a safe place for a small dog to learn to swim.

The Importance of Teaching Your Yorkie to Swim

are yorkies hyper
Adopting a Yorkie? Expect an energy-packed puppy that LOVES to play and run. They do tire out (eventually)

Even though it might not be natural for a Yorkie to swim, it’s still essential. Yorkies, like many other small dogs, are prone to different joint complications and thyroid conditions. Swimming makes for a healthy, active, preventative, or active treatment plan for both. 

For instance, some Yorkies can suffer from Patellar Luxation, which affects the knee caps. If the condition isn’t too severe, veterinarians often suggest water-based exercises to alleviate stress on the area while strengthening the muscles. 

If you teach your Yorkie how to swim, you won’t have to worry about teaching them while tending to their condition. Instead, they’ll already know-how and might not have a problem getting into the rhythm of the new workout routine.  

Similarly, water-based exercising can also help Yorkie’s suffering from weight gain, whether due to a thyroid condition or diet. 

yorkie ears
Black and Gold Yorkies often fade to Blue and Gold as they age. Look at those perky upright Yorkie ears!

Water Safety Tips

Like creating or choosing a safe environment to begin your Yorkie’s swimming lessons, you should consider a couple of water safety tips, such as water temperature and toxicity. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the water temperature plus the air temperature on the given day should equal at least 100-degrees. Frigid water can cause cold tail and potentially hypothermia, especially in smaller breeds like the Yorkie.

It would help if you also kept swimming lessons short, to a maximum of about 10-minutes. Otherwise, your dog might take in too much water. When this happens, veterinarians refer to it as toxic water. It can cause your dog to vomit and dehydrate. 

One Last Thing

Don’t let the Yorkie’s small size fool you; they are competent swimmers when given the proper training. Plus, since Yorkies are manageable dogs that don’t require intensive training, teaching them to swim might not be a challenging feat. However, it doesn’t hurt to keep these tips and tricks in mind when the time comes around.