Can French Bulldogs swim without a life vest ?

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French Bulldogs and Swimming

Small compact body, short legs, brachycephalic nature, and no, these are not just features that make our furry friend unique, they are features that say; “………….NO, I am not built for swimming!”

Yes, you read that right, Frenchies are not exactly built for swimming. They can’t swim is actually because of their Brachycephaly.

What happens when you make them swim, unsupervised and without the right gear?

Most will sink like stones in a pool. Yes, FRENCHIES CAN DROWN if they are left unwatched in the water deeper than a few inches even for a short while. Even for the few able to swim, it can rarely be sustained for long, at least when compared to a breed like the Labrador.

Do French Bulldogs Like The Water?

It’s completely understandable to wonder if French Bulldogs like water or being around a body of water because they are after all, prone to overheating especially during hot summer days or after a run or long walk with the family and a dip in the pool could be the coolant they need.

While it may be tempting, needful even, to let your stubby canine cool off in the pool, just as mentioned earlier, a Frenchie will drown if left unattended.

Teaching A French Bulldog How To Swim

One of the best things about cooling off in your home pool in summer or at the local pool is swimming with a pal.

If you own a pool, have one in your locality, or leave near a dog-friendly lake or beach, you probably want your Frenchton to come along.

French Bulldogs can be taught to swim while wearing an approved life jacket or life vest. It is crucial to watch your Frenchie at all time when they are around water. Never leave them alone near water !!

Without a flotation device holding him above water, your Frenchie could sink right to the bottom if tossed into the water.

Too much noise and activities are distracting for any dog; the French bulldog inclusive.

Start with a quiet area of the lake, pool, or river and keep your Frenchie leashed at all times, just in case it gets into trouble and also to keep it from swimming too far.

Again, DO NOT leave your dog unattended in water, even for a few seconds and also don’t toss the French bulldog into the water for the first swim as you’ll only end up frightening him to the extent that he may never be interested in swimming again.

Teach your French bulldog to swim early.

As early as possible, get your French bulldog puppy a wading pool and encourage him to play in it (keep the activity supervised). Gradually fill it, until the puppy is able to splash around in a few inches deep water.

A shallow lake or pond is perfect and stays away from rivers.

Avoid murky water, plant-filled areas that could capture your canine’s paws or one that leads to fast-flowing areas, or sudden drops, e.g.; waterfalls.

If your dog enjoys having people near him, then have the training sessions around people but with minimal noise and distractions.

Begin Slow

Begin in a shallow area where you are able to walk beside your dog. With French bulldogs, a flotation vest is 100% required, attach a leash and slowly walk into the water, carefully letting your Frenchie get his paws wet.

If your canine appears reluctant, offer some treats or toys for encouragement. Use only a positive tone of voice and shower lots of verbal praise when he steps into the water.

Take it into deeper water until he can successfully paddle to stay afloat.

You can provide an arm to support at this point if it appears he needs such. This encourages the canine to paddle their rear legs alongside the front legs.

You can also bring along a dog, as seeing another dog swimming will not only pique his interest but will also be a morale boost when he braves the deeper areas.

You should try to optimize the learning session. Ensure your dogs do not attempt to climb on each other’s back or start playing in the water.

Provide the needed support until it achieves a level of comfort and swims with all four limbs.

If he gets panicky, retreat to shallow areas, until calm again, then let him have another try.


When the swimming lesson ends, you’ll have to take your time showing him the right and safe way to exit the water so he can easily find his way out the next time.

Also, rinse with fresh water will help them get out any residual chemicals or algae that might be clinging to his fur.

Lastly, offer the canine lots of verbal and physical praise after the session and maybe an additional treat, this would greatly help him associate fun with swimming.

Can French Bulldogs Swim In A Life Jacket Or Life Vest?

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This Approved life jacket on is a crucial gear for French Bulldogs when they are in the water.

There are several life jackets/vests made just for small compact dogs like your Frenchie and they are designed with extra buoyancy to keep their heads above water.

If you are shopping for a life jacket or vest for your Frenchie, ensure you get the right size that is tight-fitting to prevent any risk of it slipping off or failing in water.

These jackets are similar in many ways to inflatable flotation sleeves for little children.  The extra flotation they provide helps keep them above the water.

Also, understand that even with a life jacket, the Frenchie’s nose is only just a little bit above the waterline due to their brachycephalic built; it is, therefore, worth emphasizing that you supervise your canine at all times while in the water and avoid taking it near any water with a current, no matter how inviting it may seem.

This is especially important for canines like the French bulldogs with a facial structure that does not afford them a snout to help keep their breathing pathway above the least of waves even while wearing a life vest/jacket.

Can French Bulldogs Swim In Kiddie Pools Baby Pools?

Quite the safer option compared to lakes, ponds or pools.

If the only or major reason you need your dog to swim is to cool off when overheated and in hot summer months.

Then you should consider getting a kiddies pool for your furry friend.

While having a kiddie’s pool,  still, you need to keep a sharp eye on them.

What to look for in buying a life Vest for Your Frenchie?

Now, picking the right vest that fits your pet perfectly is very important.

You should take it seriously as a mistake with the size or quality may end up with tragedy.

So, if possible (highly recommended), take your French bulldog to the pet shop to get the exact fit and also pick from a wide range of options.

Some factors to consider before you buy the life vest/jacket:

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Size : 

Jackets for compact, pudgy canines such as yours,  come in a variety of sizes with every single one of them fitted based on the weight and height of the particular canine.

Picking one appropriate for your furry little friend is easy.

However, sizes may vary depending on the brands, some are designed specifically for narrow-hipped bulldogs while the others are made for broad-chested ones.

To get your Frenchie’s exact size, measure its girth and height alongside its current weight.

Fitting : 

Ensure the one you picked has adjustable features that can be fitted correctly on your canine’s neck, as this will make adjusting to any change in your pet’s size possible as it grows older.

Safety : 

Safety is always a top priority with French bulldogs when in water.

So, you need to ensure the life vest you buy for your canine is designed with a telescoping neck with secured buckles and interior straps. The safety release buckles and straps are especially valuable for when you go canoeing or kayaking.

They are also important when you go into woody water bodies.

Ease of Use : 

When you finally pick one, confirm that the vest goes over and fast on the neck and clasps right under the stomach as a regular harness would.

Also, make sure you practice putting it on and off your canine before taking it out of the water,  this will afford you and your dog some level of comfort when using the vest.

Durability : 

The jacket should be sturdy enough for long use and able to stand the sun, water, and most other elements without any problem. The handle should be strong to be able to lift the dog’s weight and even heavier ones without coming apart.


There you have it, stuff you should know about French bulldogs and swimming.

We would like to mention again that with life jackets or not. French Bulldog can’t swim on their own because Frenchies are not built for major swimming, unlike most other dogs.

If cooling off when overheated, you should consider getting a kiddies pool is another good option.

If you need to take Frenchie to the beach, you must constantly keep your eyes on him.

Because, besides drowning, just a few seconds of slurping the salty sea water can lead health issues such as dehydration, diarrhea, and vomiting.

French Bulldogs should not be allowed in the water unsupervised.  Better safe than sorry,

 We’d like to know, can your French bulldog swim?

If yes, any other swimming tips for French bulldogs you’d like to offer or want to be included in this article?

Do you have any other comments or questions?
Please let us know.