It is very well known that dogs are great swimmers, considering their physical disadvantages. They can also swim faster than some humans in some cases. So how fast can a dog swim?

How Fast Can a Dog Swim?

Depending on the breed, dogs can swim and reach between 1-2 mph. Some breeds will swim slower than this, if at all. Those with webbed feet, such as the Portuguese water spaniel are the ones that can swim faster than others.

Can Dogs Swim Faster than Humans?

The average human can swim at around 2 mph, depending on conditions. Experts like the Olympic swimmers can reach speeds of over 5 mph, but only at a top performance level. Still, humans have a much bigger advantage than dogs do, and it can even be improved.

When comparing how fast a dog can swim to humans, the average studies say that a human swims faster than a dog in the same conditions. However, some dogs can undoubtedly swim faster than a person with a very low swimming ability.

Why Are They Fast?

Like in any other species, there are dogs that are natural born swimmers. Most of these pooches used to be working dogs that were bred centuries ago, especially for hunting. For example, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland and Portuguese Water Spaniel.

All of these dog breeds have some characteristics in common which allow them to swim faster and more efficiently than others:

  • Webbed feet: It is proven that dogs known as natural swimmers usually have webs that cover a larger surface area. This trait is one of the reasons why they are such good swimmers, allowing a them to cover larger surfaces of water faster..
  • Thick coat: naturally dog swimmers also have double coats that offer them extra insulation in cold waters. It provides a huge benefit, giving extra protection. For example, Golden Retrievers have an oily double coat that repels the water, making them less heavy when swimming.
  • Strong front legs: doggy paddles are the foundation of a great swimmer. With their front legs, dogs can power through the water while displacing water with their webbed paws. Their webbed feet allows harder push through the water.

Other Swimming Conditions that Affect Speed

Many factors also come into play when a dog decides how fast should he swim. Of course the type of pup is a large factor in determining the speed, however, other conditions can also influence this.

The place where a dog is seen swimming (sea, ocean, lake, river or pool) has an important factor. Each one of these water sources present different conditions. Dogs are most likely going to swim faster in an indoor pool since the temperature is controlled and there are no external conditions.

Waves and current weather of both the ambient and water can change how fast your dog swims in the sea or ocean. Same goes for rivers, as the current is always flowing. Lakes are the only natural source of water where a dog could reach its fastest swimming speed.

However, some factors like the temperature of the water, can cause their muscles to work inefficiently. Lakes tend to have a strong wind blowing above the surface of the water, making it very difficult for a dog to swim, especially the ones with large heads.

Dogs That Can’t Swim

It’s vital to acknowledge that some dogs cannot spend time in or around the water.  Breeding has made some dogs less capable to function in different environments. Pugs are a great example of this.

Pugs are very cuddly and cute small dogs, despite all of the consequent health issues. Their main characteristic is a flat nose on their heads and a very short neck. This provokes many complications for a pug to keep his head above the water while swimming.

Their short legs also worsen the situation even more, slowing them considerably. While they can still manage to swim, they shouldn't be left alone to swim in lakes or pools if there is no human to supervise what they are doing.

Bulldogs have a similar body structure to Pugs, despite their size difference. They’re even a little better at swimming. Dachshunds are also poor swimmers as well, because of their leg size.

Another breed that is considered as the worst dog for swimming, is the Basset hound. This dog type is very heavy because of their coat and bones. Small legs and a lot of skin to deal with results in bad maneuver through the water, ending in a hard struggle. They’re not suitable for walking a lot either.

Best Swimming Breeds

There are many dog breeds that get along really well with water and are perfect swimmers due to their natural ability.

Portuguese Water Dog

This breed is very well known for being working near and in waters for a really long time. They used to herd fish into nets and be couriers from ships to shore. These dogs are one of the best for water activities, since it is what they have been bred to do.


Newfoundland are renowned as the best swimmers in long-distance. Their heavy coat works as a protector against icy waters. Web-like feet also help them swim much longer distances.

Golden Retriever

The cross between Retrievers and Water Spaniels explains their huge love for aquatic activities. Their water-resistant coats prevent most of the water from getting into their skin, making it a dog tolerant of cold waters and weathers.

Labrador Retriever

Bred by the Canadian Labrador Sea coast, they were born around water. Webbed-feet, otter-tails, and double-coats are the most characteristic traits of this dog, making it an excellent swimmer and water worker.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This breed really loves water. Known for being excellent workers in water, their body is also very tolerable of cold weather conditions. It is a must for dog owners to include water exercises and activities if having one.


Derived from the German word “Pudeln” (to splash), Poodles were bred as water dogs, resulting in a great dog that can stay in water for a long time.


For those asking how fast a dog can swim, it’s important to know that it depends on the breed. While all dogs can swim, some are more suitable than others. Their body characteristics can make a pooch exceptionally good for water activities, meanwhile others struggle a lot due to their size.