Poodles are very dignified and sophisticated dogs, but will they join in the fun of jumping in the water? Here is everything that you need to know about poodles and their attitude about getting wet.
Do Poodles like water? Poodles are one of the best swimmers of the canine species. They love water and will take any opportunity to jump in along with their humans. Their history, physical features, and high energy make them naturally disposed to water.
History of poodles and water
Poodles originally came from Europe, but there is debate about whether they came from Germany or France. Their name in German, Pudelhund, comes from 2 words: Pudel, which means “to splash” and Hund, which is the word for “dog”. In French, they are called Caniche, which comes from Chien Canard- “duck dog”.
Regardless of which country they first appeared, they were bred for one purpose- duck hunting. Once the hunter killed their prey, the poodles were commanded to retrieve the fallen birds from the water.
Though their fancy hairdos are only for show now, at the time, they had a purpose. Trimming around the back and legs lightened the weight of their fur and prevented snagging on debris, while the “fluff spots” around their vital organs and joints protected them from the cold water. The pompom on the top of the tail also allowed the hunters to keep track of their dog when they went bounding after prey.
Poodles Are Made for Water
Along with being styled effectively, poodle’s fur coat is dense, curly, and water-resistant. Without their soggy fur weighing them down, they are able to swim much easier. Poodles also only have one coat; whereas, most dogs have two.
Though most dogs have webbing between their toes, like people have skin between our fingers, poodles have more webbing than most. This allows them to paddle through the water as if they were given flippers.
All these physical characteristics also apply to Miniature and Toy Poodles as well. The only characteristic difference is their size.
High Energy Poodles in Water
Poodles are a highly energetic breed. They do best with daily walks and time outside to play. If they are not stimulated enough, they can become restless and agitated, which can lead to destructive behaviors as an outlet for excess energy.
Swimming and getting in the water to play is a great way for them to burn off some of that built-up energy. They can also be trained in the water, which also stimulates their minds. Poodles are very intelligent and learn new things quickly. Training in water gives them a new challenge and a chance to cool off.
Smaller Poodles in Water
Of the three types of poodles, the standard is the largest and oldest. It is the most graceful in the water, but the other smaller poodles love water as well. There are just a few things to keep in mind when allowing your miniature and toy poodles in the water.
Due to their smaller size, Miniature Poodles and Toy Poodles tire out faster than their larger version. You might also want to avoid the deep ends on pools with your poodle unless you know they are veteran swimmers.
Poodle Pool Safety Tips
Unfortunately, dog drownings do happen, but usually only in the old and weak or the very young and untrained. In pools, it might be a good idea to install a dog ramp to help your poodle get in and out of the pool without difficulty. When out on a boat, a doggy boat ladder would be beneficial for when they tire or a dog life jacket, just for safety reasons.
Chlorine and Poodles
On the subject of pools, you might wonder if would be okay for your poodle to take a swim in your backyard pool. Usually, yes. Chlorine is not especially harmful to dogs unless ingested in large amounts or eaten straight with the chlorine tablets. Be sure to have the tablets and any other cleaning chemicals sealed tightly and put away where your pooch cannot reach them.
To help them avoid drinking the pool water, have a bowl of fresh water nearby or try to teach them not to drink the pool water. If they do not for any reason, and they start to develop stomach issues, adding a mineral purifier to the water to reduce the chemical levels might help. Bromine is also a non-chlorine chemical that can be used in pools that is safer for pets.
While chlorine is not especially harmful in small amounts, it is a chemical that will dry out the skin and strip your dog’s fur of the natural oils it has. To help avoid this, you can do a quick rinse of your dog after it is done with swimming. This washes away the excess chemicals and the chlorine.
To prevent the fur’s natural oils from being stripped, you could spray them with a leave-in conditioner before and after they get out of the water. Adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements to their diet can also help replace the oils they lost in the water.
To help prevent their skin from drying out, you can talk to your groomer about a moisturizing conditioner when they get groomed every 3- 6 weeks.
Poodle Nails and Pool Liners
Poodles’ nails are not likely to tear or scratch the vinyl liner of the pool. They get out the same way they came in so they are not likely to scratch at the sides trying to get out.
Nails are however, a caution for kids. The swimming motion is a natural instinct for the dog and if the child approaches too fast or too close, they may get scratched. If you caution the kids playing in the water with the dog, it should be fine.
Poodles’ Risk of Ear Infection
Dogs do have a risk of ear infection, especially poodles with their long floppy ears. This is due to the dampness and not the chlorine from the pools. To prevent this, taking a towel after they are done with their swim and gently dabbing out the dampness from their ears should do the trick.
Also, if your poodle is a prolific swimmer, cleaning out their ears weekly, with a gentle cleaning cloth will help prevent infection and get rid of any bacteria, dirt, or pollutants that have built up over the week.
Teaching Your Poodle to Swim
However, not all poodles are the same. Some poodles hate the water or maybe a part of it. All dogs have different personalities and experiences. Just because poodles were bred for the water, does not mean that they will love it automatically. Sometimes, you may even have to teach your poodle how to swim.
Teaching a poodle to swim is like teaching a person to swim. Nearly the same steps apply:
- 1. Introduce Them to Water. If your poodle has never seen water outside of their drinking bowl, they need to be exposed to the different sounds, feelings, and smells that a lake, pond, or pool produces rather than their regular tap water in a bowl.
- 2. Start Out Small. Stay in the shallow water first, especially if your poodle is one of the smaller breeds. Wade out in the water yourself and entice your dog with treats to come join you. Rewarding and praising them when they do reinforces the idea that this is a good thing in their brains.
- 3. Bring Them to Deeper Water Gradually. Make sure your dog is okay with the depth they are at before trying to go deeper with them. A dog trusts their owner, so stay with them, and if they become frightened, back off into the shallower water for a while before trying again. Offering praise and treats at every stage is also important to reinforce the positive association the poodle has with water.
- 4. Paddling is a Natural Instinct. Eventually, the water will get to a depth where they can’t stand on their feet anymore and they will have to paddle. This is a natural instinct that is built into dogs that were bred for the water.
- 5. Watch for Fatigue. Swimming is a great way to exercise, for humans and poodles. It uses different muscles than normal walking does which can tire quickly when they are not normally used. Watch your poodle to make sure they do not tire out while in the water and do not force them to stay in the water for longer than they want to.
It might also be helpful if you have a hesitant dog to introduce him to the water in the company of other dogs and people that already love to swim and play in the water. Do not rush the process and always be patient and understanding. Respect the dog’s boundaries by not pushing them too far and you will teach your dog how to enjoy the water in a healthy way.
- Can Poodles Swim in the Ocean? Poodles can swim in the ocean as well as any other body of water. However, be sure to bring plenty of fresh drinking water so they don’t drink the saltwater. Saltwater can be very harmful to poodles if they drink too much of it. Also be sure to bring shade with you so that your poodle does not overheat.
- Can Poodles go Boating? Poodles are excellent boating dogs with their love for the water. To make things safe and easy for a poodle to enjoy boating, you might want to install a dog ladder on the boat and attach a safety line to your poodle’s harness so that they don’t end up going overboard. Poodles new to boating may need to get used to the boat and its rocking motion while also practicing getting in and out before taking the first trip.