Do American Bulldogs Like Water?

Do American Bulldogs Like Water
Image by Terry Rees

American Bulldogs can still swim fairly well, but they will have difficulty swimming in a current or for very long.

First bred to help out on the farm, the American Bulldog is an extremely muscular and stocky dog.

The American Bulldog is also a flat-faced brachycephalic breed, that finds it considerably difficult to cool down in hot weather.

Because of this, most American Bulldog owners are continually on the lookout for good ways to help their American Bulldog stay cool. But is swimming one of these great ways to help an American Bulldog cool down?

And do American Bulldogs like water? This is the subject we’re going to be investigating in this article:

Was the American Bulldog bred to swim?

Brought over to North America as the Old English Bulldog by working-class immigrants, the American Bulldog was first bred as a working dog, who helped out on the farm.

They kept cattle in check and hunted down bulls and wild pigs with their muscular body and strong jaws. They were agile, intelligent, and loyal, too.

However, in their history as a farm dog, it is unlikely that the American Bulldog would have ever seen water. This does not mean that they inherently dislike water, or would find it difficult to swim, though.

Is it true that American Bulldogs have webbed feet?

Did you know that some American Bulldogs are born with a thin membrane of skin attaching their toes together? When they are older, this membrane forms actual webbed feet!

If your American Bulldog has webbed feet, this will aid them in maintaining stability and grip when they walk, dig, and even swim!

And you may also find that American Bulldogs who have webbed feet love the water because of this.

Can the American Bulldog swim?

With their stocky, muscular build, yet brachycephalic skull and jaw, the American Bulldog is certainly a physically unusual breed, and these physical idiosyncrasies can be cause for concern.

Indeed, many people worry that an American Bulldog would easily get into difficulty in the water, or that the breed may not be able to swim well at all. How valid are these concerns?

Well, the typical American Bulldog indeed has an excessively bulky body with an unusual center of gravity, as well as a brachycephalic face and jaw which can be difficult for them to hold above the surface of the water for long enough when waves are extreme.

But the American Bulldog still definitely can swim fairly well a lot of the time, they just may have difficulty swimming very far.

So if you find that your American Bulldog is a big swimmer, you may like to consider using a life jacket with them when you take them to a beach or pool.

A life jacket will help to keep them afloat when they get tired, and also helping to keep their face above the water.

In a life jacket, an American Bulldog can focus on paddling, instead of getting exhausted while trying to stay afloat.

I have found what I think are the best dog life jackets, based on customer reviews on Amazon.

If you take some protective measures like this above, you will find that your American Bulldog comes to love the water.

Do American Bulldogs like to swim?

So, many American Bulldogs can swim, even if they do not have any natural ability for it. But does the breed enjoy spending time splashing about and having fun in the water with their owner?

I would say yes, many American Bulldogs do love to swim and love the water, at least eventually. But you might find that you have to slowly introduce your American Bulldog to the water for them to get used to it. Swimming is a great way for an American Bulldog to cool down, after all.

Is it dangerous for American Bulldogs to go into the water?

Due to the American Bulldog’s unusual flattened skull, short jaw, and very non-buoyant body, people generally worry that an American Bulldog could easily get into difficulty when they enter the water.

Swimming just takes that much more effort for an American Bulldog. So, is swimming healthy for an American Bulldog? Is it safe for an American Bulldog to play in the water?

Well, being in the water indeed affords a great opportunity for the brachycephalic American Bulldog to cool down. Being able to keep cool is very important for an American Bulldog.

But it is also generally very difficult for an American Bulldog to get their mouth above the water when they swim, due to the shape of their skull and jaw.

As well as this, the shape of an American Bulldog’s body tends to make it extremely difficult or even impossible for them to float properly, though they can usually paddle just fine.

Because of these reasons, yes, it can be quite dangerous for an American Bulldog to go into the sea or a river off their leash or without a lifejacket. But allowing them to cool down in a puddle or paddling pool without a buoyancy aid is typically fine.

How can I introduce my American Bulldog to the water?

Given the American Bulldog’s unusually-shaped body and brachycephalic face, you will need to take extra care when introducing your American Bulldog to the water if you want them to keep enjoying splashing around for years to come.

So, what are some of the things that are important to do when introducing your American Bulldog to the water for the first time?

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One thing you could try is, after a rainy day, look for a large puddle (that isn’t too muddy). Then, walk your American Bulldog through the puddle a few times, to get them comfortable with the feeling of water on their feet and legs.

Then, when you have done this a few times, you could also try taking your American Bulldog to a slightly deeper stream or river, where you two could both pretty much walk across normally, although your American Bulldog might have to start paddling a little.

Whether the current is strong or not, consider keeping your American Bulldog on their leash at this stage, so that they feel more secure and safe.

After you’ve visited a river with your American Bulldog a few times, you can then take them to a much deeper body of water, like the sea or a pool.

If there is a shallow end, you could try slowly walking into the water while holding them. They will likely start paddling immediately.

In warmer weather, use a paddling pool to help them cool down and for retrieving games. This introduces its head into the water in a fun way.

The point at which you can let your American Bulldog off the leash in the sea or a river will be different for every individual dog.

Some pooches will instantly head far out to sea, only turning back around when they get tired, while others will struggle to keep afloat, and will never willingly enter the deeper parts of the water.

At least at first, you could swim along with your American Bulldog using the leash. But be aware that a leash can easily get tangled or caught on debris like low hanging branches or seaweed.

And also, we recommend using a lifejacket with your American Bulldog at all times when in deeper water.

So, do American Bulldogs like water?

Yes. Despite their decidedly un-buoyant body, plenty of American Bulldogs adore spending all day in the water, splashing around in the sea and swimming after a ball or two, or just bobbing along, chilling out and keeping cool.

Or, after a game of fetch, don’t be surprised if your American Bulldog finds a puddle and plonks themselves down in it, panting.

They may also like to gatecrash your hot tub or paddling pool, too!

For more about American Bulldogs see my other articles below

By Michelle McDaid

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