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 Shiba Inus Like Water? Facts & Safety Tips

Hanh Duong

By Hanh Duong

red shiba inu sitting near the sea

Taking your Shiba Inu on outings like running, hiking, and jogging is one of the best parts of being a dog parent. When the weather gets warmer and you see other canines swimming happily, you might wonder if your Shiba likes water too.

Shiba Inus are not naturally attracted to water as they are not a water breed. In light of this, teaching them to swim can be more challenging, especially given their independent character.

Additionally, despite your best efforts to make bath time enjoyable, only some Shibas will like it. However, they can learn to accept it. It’s important to note that every Shiba Inu is unique, and their reaction to water can vary as well.

Divider 2

Are Shiba Inus Good Swimmers?

While you might think that all dogs are great swimmers, this is not always true. Some breeds do very well in the water, but others may find it more difficult, regardless of how hard they paddle. Fortunately, with proper instruction and exposure, Shiba Inus can still swim well, but they won’t be as good as Standard Poodles, Newfoundlands, English Setters, or Labrador Retrievers.

How Does Swimming Benefit Dogs?

Swimming is an excellent kind of exercise for both you and your furry friend! Here are five reasons why you should consider teaching your dog to swim:

1. It Enhances Overall Health

Swimming is one of the best types of exercise for your Shiba Inu. It brings a lot of health advantages, including enhancing heart and lung capacity, boosting metabolism, reducing inflammation, and improving circulation, which supports the health and beauty of their skin and fur. In addition, using all of the major muscle groups while moving their limbs against the resistance of the water can increase overall tone and strength.

shiba inu standing near pool
Image Credit: Thoranin Nokyoo, Shutterstock

2. It’s Great for Joints

Swimming is a low-impact activity so your Shiba can benefit from its advantages without putting undue strain on their joints and tendons. Moreover, your dog’s body is supported by the water when immersed, eliminating the impact of jarring on their skeletal system from exercises like running. Swimming also increases their range of motion because it requires them to move very differently than they would on solid ground. All these benefits make swimming a particularly healthy type of exercise for Shibas with joint conditions.

mini shiba inu standing on a rock
Image Credit: tackune, Shutterstock

3. It Reduces Stress

Swimming not only benefits your dog’s physical health but also mentally as well. Like people, they need various mentally stimulating activities to be sharp and happy. This sport gives canines the freedom to release their pent-up energy without feeling restrained. A happily worn-out dog will be ready to go home and take a nap, and this kind of exercise can help them get a good sleep.

shiba inu dog sleeping in his owners lap
Image credit: Elena Shvetsova, Shutterstock

4. Swimming in Warm Water Can Relieve Pain

Shibas can benefit a lot from therapeutic swimming in warm water because it helps with rehabilitation by fortifying muscles, promoting circulation,1 and strengthening joints. In addition to providing pain relief,2 warm water also stimulates blood flow and speeds up muscle recovery, lowering the chance of future injury.

shiba inu dog swimming
Image Credit: Lucamino, Shutterstock

5. It’s Perfect for Overweight Dogs

With overweight dogs, it might be hard to provide adequate land-based exercise without overburdening their joints and muscles. Swimming is a terrific technique for these canines to burn calories and increase their metabolic rate with less risk of injury because the water supports most of their weight. It can aid in bringing overweight Shibas back down to a healthy weight when combined with a balanced diet.

shiba inu
Image Credit: Akbudak Rimma, Shutterstock

divider 10

Tips to Inspire Your Shiba to Love Swimming

Start Young

The sooner you introduce your Shiba to the water, the greater the likelihood that your dog will enjoy swimming. So do this while they are still young if possible.

shiba inu sitting in the grass with his owner
Image Credit: MENG-KONGSAK, Shutterstock

Start Small

Throwing your Shiba into a pool and thinking they’ll learn how to swim naturally can be incredibly traumatizing for them, and many dogs will never get over that fear. A kiddie pool or slow, shallow water are good places to start. Be mindful that even seemingly calm rivers and creeks may have strong currents running beneath the surface. Ensure there are either gently sloping surfaces or steps to help them enter and exit the water.

Use Rewards

When they enter the water for the first time and after each additional step, reward them with their preferred treats. Throwing a ball or other floating toy into increasingly deeper water might motivate some Shibas. It’s important not to force your dog—instead, let them move at their own pace.

Support Their Belly

Dogs who are just learning to swim often let their backs sink too deeply, making it difficult for them to move forward. They can learn to stay flat while paddling faster if you get into the water with them and put your hand under their belly for support.

Bring a Companion or a Life Jacket

Observing another dog is occasionally the most effective method for teaching a Shiba to swim. Bring another dog who is a good swimmer and gets along with your canine if you have one or know of one. In addition, a life jacket can help keep anxious pets floating until they gain more comfort with their paddling techniques.

shiba inu dog swimming
Image Credit: Kinnari1231, Shutterstock

Divider 2

Conclusion

Shiba Inus are not natural water canines. It can be challenging to teach a Shiba to swim because many of them have a negative view of the water and actively try to avoid it. However, with the proper guidance, your dog may start to love this activity. Their safety and comfort should come first, just like with any activity.

Swimming is a great way to exercise, but you should always keep a close eye on your Shiba.


Featured Image Credit: Lim_as_333, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database