Can a Boston Terrier Swim?

Yes, Boston Terriers can swim. Though Boston Terriers are not a breed bred to swim, like a spaniel or poodle who just happen to be naturally gifted and inclined to be in the water, don’t count them out just yet. Boston Terriers can swim if they need to, and though they don’t always like the water, some Boston Terriers are actually excellent swimmers and love the water.

The Boston Terrier has a few limiting factors against them that can maybe limit the time and distance they can swim, but who’s to say they need to have excellent statistics going for them to be able to have a dip in the pool?

Boston Terriers are Not the Best Swimmers

Boston Terriers are notable for having heavier heads, and shorter, abnormally shaped snouts, like their friends the pug or the french bulldog, which make them brachycephalic (quite literally meaning they have a broad, short skull).

Keeping this in mind, before you set expectations on the timing of how long your Boston will be going for a swim and the training time/ supervision you’ll be heading into, know that though some can do longer distances than others, be patient with your Boston as they’ll tend to tire out fast.

Related: Do Terrier Bark A lot?

It takes a little bit more energy for them to be able to breathe in general, so adding physical exertion to the mix requires a bit of patience with your pup.

Don’t count them out just yet.

How To Teach Your Boston Terrier to Swim

With anything you try, it’s said you can learn to be good as long as the pursuit and passion are there.

1. Introduce Them to the Water

Boston Terriers are typically energetic and playful and love their toys! This will be a good way to start the introduction of taking the step into teaching your Boston to swim!

You have to start by making sure they like water! You can start with using a sprinkler or garden hose and seeing how they do from there.

You can start to introduce them to the idea of water, then slowly introducing perhaps a foldable pool for them to explore at their own pace, and then introducing large water surfaces as a gradual, social experience and always be encouraging, patient, and motivating with a toy or game that you know your pup will enjoy.

2. Make the Water a Positive Experience

Bostons are very sensitive to a harsher tone, so exploring this concept with them with solely positive reinforcement can ensure you don’t traumatize them from the water with your teaching.

Can a Boston Terrier Swim?

With the first experience, ensure it is calm, positive, and comfortable. For the first water exposure, you bring to your pup, ensure that the water is a comfortable, room temperature as to not shock your Boston, as they already have issues regulating their body temperature.

Once the water exposure has begun, use sweet tones to reward your pup and be encouraging. You want to support your pup’s midsection in the water and ensure that your pup starts to paddle (a life jacket is also recommended), displaying comfortability in the water.

3. Be Patient

You have to be mindful of your pup and how patient you are in that you’re teaching them something new for the first time.

Remember their age as well- the pup should be old enough to walk and maneuver efficiently on land, on their own two feet, before attempting in the water.

This is when you get to start exposing different bodies of water. The guiding process of carefully directing your Boston into the water may happen several times, but stay patient and hope for the best that your Boston may start to stay in the water for longer periods.

So Can They Swim?

So, can Boston Terriers in general swim? Yes. It’s just that Boston Terriers are not great swimmers because of their body construction. Every dog can swim if put into the position they had to; some dogs would thrive while others would struggle. I would say Boston Terriers are found somewhere in the middle.

Notice below the top dog breeds that love to swim:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Barbet
  • American Water Spaniel
  • Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Otterhound
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

It’s Like asking if anyone can do anything; it depends on your pup’s personality and interest level!

If they are interested in it or want to do it, you’ll get a better result than if made to do it. Think of a kid with homework- you’ll get better results if the topic is interesting.

Boston Terriers specifically are self-entertaining, and can typically have a bit of a streak of stubbornness. This is when the patience test truly comes out for you. The amazing part is that this is something new you can learn together and bond with your pup over.

Are Boston Terriers Easy to Train to Go in the Water?

Since Bostons are very sensitive to harsher tones or any indication that their owner might be upset with them, training can be a fragile process.

You must be willing to be patient, understanding, and mindful of your approach. This might take some mental training of patience on your end if this is something you’re new to.

Be willing to understand that you are learning together, and like a kid learning to be potty trained, you don’t want your internal frustration to ever show outwardly and affect the self-esteem of the pup, decreasing their motivation to learn.

How Old Should a Boston Terrier Be Before Teaching Them How to Swim?

Studies show 4-6 months old is the perfect age to start familiarizing your Boston Terrier with water.

How Old Should a Boston Terrier Be Before Teaching Them How to Swim?

You want them to be steadied and navigate well on their own two feet on land before putting them in an unfamiliar environment!

What Can I Do to Help My Boston Terrier with the Heat?

Since Bostons have temperature sensitivity issues, be mindful of the climate where you live to give your Boston the summer fun they deserve by preparing your time outside with enough water, rest breaks, and shade to accommodate their need for a little bit of assistance regulating their temperature.

This shouldn’t limit the fun in the sun, though, or their ability to get Vitamin D. Boston Terriers are very social and would love to go to a dog park to socialize with other pups, play a rousing game of fetch, or let them sunbathe/ lounge in the shade. 


It’s okay to take your Boston Terrier to the beach or a body of water and see how they respond. You never know; they may end up loving the water and be natural swimmers.

If not, that’s totally okay as well. Slowly introduce your Boston to the water, and hopefully, over time, they enjoy it as much as you.


Jessica is a writer for The Terrier Guide.

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