Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Do German Shepherds Like Water? How to Help Them Enjoy Swimming

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

german shepherd at the seashore

If you have a German Shepherd, you might be curious about whether or not you can take your GSD to the beach or the family lake house. Whether or not German Shepherds like being in the water really varies from dog to dog, however, this breed does not generally have strong swimming instincts. Some GSDs may take to the water very easily, but you might find that certain dogs require some coaxing. Though they aren’t natural swimmers, with patience, they can be taught to swim. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of swimming for German Shepherds, and what to do if your dog is afraid of the water.

Divider 1

Can German Shepherds Swim?

Certain dogs, such as the Poodle, the Labrador Retriever, and the English Setter, were bred for swimming. Being in the water feels like second nature to these breeds. However, German Shepherds are not necessarily natural swimmers. Bred for herding sheep, the German Shepherd is not accustomed to the water by instinct.

However, even though they aren’t natural swimmers, German Shepherds can be taught to swim. Just like humans, German Shepherds may require swimming lessons to be comfortable and confident in the water.

german shepherd swimming
Photo Credit: AnjaGh, Pixabay

Benefits German Shepherd Swimming

Even though German Shepherds aren’t naturally inclined to water-based activities, swimming provides plenty of benefits for these dogs. One of the biggest benefits of swimming, of course, is that it provides your German Shepherd with a great full-body workout. German Shepherds are very active dogs that need around 2 hours of exercise each day. Swimming provides a great alternative to walking, running, and hiking and doesn’t require your dog to be on a leash. It’s particularly beneficial when the weather is very hot, as being in the water will help your dog cool down. In addition to being a great workout, swimming is also lower-impact than most other types of exercise. That’s great news for a dog like the German Shepherd, as this breed tends to be prone to developing joint problems such as hip dysplasia.

In addition to the physical benefits, swimming also has mental and emotional benefits for dogs. Just like humans, dogs can feel bored, stressed, and anxious. Have you ever gone to the gym to take your mind off a stressful project? Dogs are the same way. Exercise can help relieve stress and also provide your German Shepherd with much-needed mental stimulation.

german shepherd dogs swimming
Photo By: Jiří Rotrekl, Pixabay

Tips & Tricks to Get German Shepherds to Love Water

Some individual German Shepherds will take to the water more easily than others. You may find that your dog seems uncomfortable in, or even afraid of, the water. If this is the case, it’s possible your dog had a negative experience in the water in the past. It could also be that you simply introduced him to the water too quickly. Whether it is a pool, lake, ocean, or another body of water, it can take some time for your German Shepherd to completely acclimate to being in the water.

You should never force your GSD to go in the water if he doesn’t seem ready. Start slowly by taking your dog into the shallow end of a pool or lake and playing by the water. Get into the water with your dog and help support his body if needed while he moves his legs. You might even consider getting a dog life jacket to use at first. Do not jump into your pool and expect your dog to follow you. He may think you are in danger and feel an impulse to help you, but fear of the water may cause him to feel stressed.

Divider 3

Final Thoughts

Not all German Shepherds like the water at first, and most are not natural swimmers. However, swimming has a lot of benefits for German Shepherds. If your dog seems apprehensive around the water, try slowly introducing him to it, but don’t force it—doing so can make the fear worse.

Related Reads:

Featured Image Credit: Hilary Thompson, Pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database