Can English Mastiffs Swim? 7 Tips and Important Facts You Need to Know!

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The old English Mastiff can learn how to tread water as long as he’s got the proper training. Although many pooches enjoy being in it, swimming remains to be an individual preference unless an owner intervenes and encourages his dog to enjoy splashing around.

Considering how humongous the English Mastiff is, helping him get through the water requires more effort than you would with other dogs like the Poodle or the Labrador Retriever. Nevertheless, your hard work can pay off when there is patience, dedication, and commitment!

Why Teaching Your English Mastiff How to Swim Is Important

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Swimming is not just an activity for leisure. In fact, this is a crucial life skill each dog should learn. In the United States, an estimated 5,000 dogs end up drowning in the backyard pool each year. Reality may sound harsh and your English Mastiff can potentially be the next victim, but you can prevent this simply by allocating your time in instilling in him such an important life lesson.

Additionally, the importance of making your fur baby know how to paddle and stay afloat in the water can be a great means to lengthen his body’s overall endurance. 

Just like how it is with humans, when a dog is new to swimming, signs of exhaustion physically manifest right away. If ever an accident happens such as him sliding to the water from the poolside, he’d be able to swim back to the surface or ladder without stopping midway.

Does an English Mastiff Need Training to Swim?

Mostly, yes! The English Mastiff would need training first before he can become a good swimmer. Unlike smaller dog breeds, the English Mastiff would need assistance judging by his size. And, even though this dog can swim the first time he’s led to a pool, he might have some trouble maintaining his balance or trying to stay drifting in the water.

Your English Mastiff might show off and display his newly discovered talent, still, every Mastiff parent should remain wary of certain possible risks. Safe swimming will only be achieved after a considerable amount of time and practice.

Ever seen some dogs swimming whilst paddling frantically in the water? You can eliminate this by helping your colossal canine gain confidence in swimming through getting intensive training. At times, other dogs will panic when guided in the water by their owners and swim back to a safer place. 

Going berserk in the pool can be life-threatening, that’s why training him to stay calm and enjoy the water is recommended.

How Long Can He Swim as a Workout?

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs should only be given 10 minutes maximum time to spend in the water. There are various potential dangers when your canine is in the water and this includes water toxicity. This happens when your English Mastiff swallows too much water while he swims. Although this is a rare case, such an event proves to be fatal as this can cause brain damage and worse, death.

This condition is found commonly in dogs who love being in the water. They are more vulnerable when activities involve retrieving items in the pool, river, or sea. Going after and catching tennis balls from pools and the like can cause them to take in large quantities of water. 

Moreover, the English Mastiff breed isn’t the type of dog that you should overly tire out. His typical exercise usually includes a peaceful walk in the morning and afternoon. 

If ever he needs to sweat out in the pool, keep it reasonably short. Swimming is a holistic body exercise and your canine can burn more calories compared to strolling and running. Nevertheless, the said activity is ideal in keeping his weight down.

How to Train Your English Mastiff to Love the Water

Lots of your patience would be required just so your English Mastiff will end up falling in love with the water. There are many options to choose from when it comes to the location such as rivers, lakes, or beaches, but the best one for starters is the pool where you can have more control regarding the surroundings and happenings. 

When all is set, follow this simple guide in teaching your Mastiff on how to paddle in the water:

  1. Introduce Your English Mastiff to the Pool

Nothing is more effective than bringing your English Mastiff to the pool first and spending your time there to hang out. Let him have a positive impression of it by giving him pets, toys, or treats. Make him associate being in the pool with something rewarding. 

You can walk around it or sit by the pool while splashing the water with your feet. Make him feel comfortable, relaxed, and unthreatened. It is like how it was when he was being crate-trained. The only difference is, the crate is a sanctuary for him while the pool is a place of fun.

  1. Lead Him Into the Water

Now, by the time your English Mastiff is relaxed and curious about the water, it is time to gradually get into the pool using the stairs. Lead him to it slowly. You must get in first to show your doggy that everything’s going to be fine since nothing bad happens to you when you’re in it.

Support your English Mastiff and help him get his front paws in the water first. Direct him well until all his feet are submerged. Once this happens, praise him for his bravery such as by saying “good boy” or “good girl!”.

  1. Let Him Start Knowing How to Swim

You can place your hand in his chest for support as he starts to venture into the deeper areas of the pool. It is vital that you reassure him that he’s safe so he doesn’t panic. 

As he paddles in the water, some dogs instinctively swim to get out. You can divert him once both of you are approaching the edge. Use verbal cues so he knows what you want him to do. 

Incorporating his favorite toys can also uplift his spirit in swimming! You can throw it at a short distance and guide him in going after it.

7 Tips on How to Make Swimming Safe for Him

Teaching your English Mastiff how to swim requires preparation and planning for it to be successful. Since he is about to experience something that’s off the land, ensuring his safety is an utmost priority. Thankfully, you don’t have to remember hundreds of rules in making your English Mastiff swim carefully. 

There are only three basic things you have to take note of:

  • Let him wear a floatation device. A life jacket will make it easier for your English Mastiff to trust you and himself being in the water. The device will keep him floating and he won’t have a harder time holding his head up for breathing. Moreover, wearing a life jacket decreases the chance of him drowning.
  • Never leave your dog’s side. You must stay near him and support him when needed. Dangers can occur and every second is crucial when worst-case scenarios happen. On a different note, showing support to your dog by being near him can encourage him to persevere in learning how to swim. English Mastiffs can be people-pleasers and sensitive, so why not show him how much you appreciate his behavior?
  • Avoid leading him to deeper areas of the pool. Since he’s just starting to know how to swim, you have to consider that he’s still in the stage of adjustment. Dwelling on the shallow part is where he should first develop his confidence before he proceeds to a more challenging area of the pool.
  • Check the water temperature. You can immediately tell if your dog can withstand the hotness or coldness of the pool if you find the temperature comfortable, however, English Mastiffs overheat very quickly, so generally, lukewarm water would be best. During the cold months, your English Mastiff should be dried off as soon as possible to lower the chance of him experiencing hypothermia.
  • Give him free access to freshwater. Innocently, your fur baby might quench his thirst by drinking the adulterated pool water. By giving him and directing him to a cleaner source, he’ll be discouraged to take in the chlorinated water.
  • Always rinse your dog after swimming. Use only mild shampoos to remove all chemicals that were from the pool. Leaving him to dry without rinsing off can damage his skin and coat.
  • Use sunscreen to protect your dog from heat. If there are not many trees to provide shade around the pool, it is imperative to apply sun protection to avoid your pet from getting scorched by the heat. Use canine-appropriate sunscreen so it’s 100% effective. Also, never forget to apply cream on his nose!

What Not to Do While Teaching Your English Mastiff to Swim

Never force your dog to get into the swimming pool. If your English Mastiff shows signs of distress, give him space,  lead him out of the place, and simply continue the session after a few days. Remember that swimming is supposed to be a combination of learning a life skill while at the same time enjoying it. 

If the dog feels uncomfortable, he might end up becoming injured as he tries to keep himself from the pool and possibly away from you as well. Moreover, such a circumstance might become a traumatic event for him and could lead to anxiety and aquaphobia. He might also have trust issues with you if you keep pressuring him.

My Final Thoughts

All breeds can swim and that will always include the English Mastiff. However, do recognize that some are genetically predisposed to do well in the water while some need to be trained first before they can safely swim in pools, lakes, seas, or rivers. 

Your English Mastiff would need thorough training, support, and patience most of all. If you want things to go more smoothly, although you can start teaching him how to splash in the water at any point in his life, 6 months to 2 years remains to be the generally ideal age for a dog to learn how to swim.

Nevertheless, it is not always too late if your English Mastiff is already an adult.