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Can Rottweilers Swim (And Do They Like It?)
Chris Dinesen Rogers
People often think that swimming comes naturally to dogs. Labrador Retrievers provide proof of that assumption. Sometimes, it’s hard to get them out of the water. However, answering the question of whether Rottweilers can swim requires some digging. We can start with the dog’s evolutionary past to see if it makes sense. We can also consider the role of selective breeding.
The short answer about whether Rottweilers can swim is yes. Whether your pup likes it or not depends upon its experience with the water.
Domesticated dogs share a common ancestor with wolves in a relationship that goes back at least 27,000 years. While it’s not common, the latter can swim. It makes sense that our canine friends would inherit this ability, too. Instinctively, a Rottweiler would know what to do to stay afloat by dog paddling. Whether the pup liked it or not is subjective.
The Rottweiler’s Job
The history of the Rottweiler goes back to Roman times. Then, as now, the dog excelled at guarding and herding livestock. The pup is big enough to move animals and presents a formidable challenge to any predator or intruder. Of course, the Rottweiler’s job has changed through the years, with selective breeding leading the charge.
This dog still finds work as a guardian. However, the pup also makes an excellent therapy animal because of its keen intelligence. Who wouldn’t feel safe with this 100-pound pooch by your side? People also train Rottweilers as search-and-rescue animals. Swimming is a skill that would indeed come in handy on some occasions.
The Rottweiler’s Personality
Several aspects of the Rottweiler’s personality make it capable of learning how to swim. It is a muscular dog that can handle the physical and mental effort it takes. As we mentioned earlier, it is an intelligent breed that you can easily train for a broad range of tasks. It is an adaptable pup and eager to please. This breed needs mental stimulation, which swimming could provide.
The Rottweiler is a confident and courageous animal, traits that are part of the breed standard. The pup is athletic with excellent endurance and agility. All these things make it possible to teach your dog to swim.
Training a Rottweiler to Swim
This breed isn’t a natural swimmer like Labrador Retrievers. That means you’re going to have to train your pet to get used to the water. The key is to make it a positive experience. Treats can certainly take off the edge. We also recommend starting them young.
There are two critical fear impact periods in a puppy’s life: between 8–12 weeks and 7–14 months. Those are also the times you’d probably first introduce your pup to the water. Therefore, it’s essential that you take it slow to let your pet take to the experience on its terms. Don’t force a dog to go into the water against its will. It may leave a negative impression that won’t go away anytime soon.
Exposing your puppy to new situations benefits both you and your pet. Your dog will be less likely to develop unwanted behaviors and be more willing to try different things, such as swimming. A life vest is a must-have before you head to the water. We suggest getting your pup used to wearing it before the swimming lesson. Let your pet focus on one experience at a time.
You should begin at the shallow end of the pool or lake first. Remember that putting its feet in the water for the first time is something new in itself. It’s also essential to minimize distractions. Go someplace where it’s quiet, preferably with no other pets around the area. Then, let your dog explore its surroundings on its time. Don’t rush your pup to go into deep waters to avoid a negative experience.
Liking the Water
So, we know Rottweilers can swim and that they can learn if you take the correct approach. The next question is whether they will like it or not. There are two things going in its favor: your pup’s eagerness to please and its intolerance of heat. If your pet senses your pleasure with its new skill, it will likely enjoy it just as much as you.
The coolness of the water is another attractive lure, particularly on warm summer days. Your pup will soon learn to associate the comfortable feeling with the water because of its keen intelligence. You may find that your pet isn’t unlike that Labrador Retriever splashing around in the lake!
Taking your Rottweiler swimming is another way to add mental stimulation to your pup’s routine. It can expose your pet to new experiences that will make it a better canine companion. It’s another form of play that you may find that both you and your dog enjoy. It’s merely a matter of making it a positive experience with your pooch calling the shots.
Featured Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock
Chris has written on a variety of topics since 2009. Her motto with all of her writing is “science-based writing nurtured by education and critical thinking.” She specializes in science topics, with a special love for health and environmental topics, and of course, pets of all shapes and sizes.
Chris lives happily with her hubby and three cats in the land of 10,000 lakes, writing, wining, and boating as much as she can. She and her husband, Norm, were awarded the State of Kentucky Colonel Honor for their restoration work at Mammoth Cave National Park. Chris’s current passion is wine. She has her WSET 1 and 2 certifications and is currently pursuing her Certified Wine Specialist Award (CSW).