Can Basset Hounds Swim? [Are They Physically Capable?]

Basset Hound owners often wonder whether they are able to take their dog for a swim. With short stature, long rectangular bodies, short legs and droopy ears, its logical to question whether they are physically capable of staying afloat in water. Safety comes first, so I decided to spend some time researching how this breed typically fares when in water. Below, you will find a summary of what I was able to find.

So, can Basset Hounds swim? Basset Hounds can swim, but not very well. This is because most of their weight is in the front part of their body, and they have stumpy little legs that cannot generate much power. They have a very hard time being able to get their heads above water and can tire fast.

With these characteristics in mind, basset hounds should be introduced to water slowly.

Equally, they should never be forced, preferably wear a life jacket, and you should keep a watchful eye over them at all times.

While technically all dogs can swim, there are a few of them that can’t swim well enough to be considered swimmers.

These breeds have an extremely high chance of drowning if they fall in a body of water with nobody around to help them.

Basset Hounds, Pugs, Bulldogs, and others all fit in this category.

Therefore, if you own a Basset Hound and want to take them swimming; there are some things you are going to need to know upfront.

Let us now take a closer look at what these are and what is involved with this breed.

Are Basset Hounds Good Swimmers?

Basset Hounds are not good swimmers at all and are considered non-swimmers. It would be best if you always kept an eye on them when around water. Even if they appear to have not attention of going in.

The biggest issue with Basset Hounds swimming is their ability to get their head above water to breathe.

Because of how Basset Hounds are built, with a stocky, substantial body, it is considerably harder for them to do.

Basset Hounds are short and stocky dogs with their weight disproportionately in their heads and towards the front of their body.

Basset Hounds may be small dogs, usually coming in at around 14 inches at the shoulder, but they are not light dogs and can weigh up to 80 pounds.

With that much weight such a small frame, it becomes hard for the Basset Hound to move freely throughout the water, especially when trying to keep their head up to breathe at the same time.

Another thing that doesn’t help when it comes to swimming are their paws. While dogs don’t need to have webbed paws to swim, it is rather useful.

Breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, which are active water dogs, have webbed feet.

This helps them maneuver through the water and give them the buoyancy they need to keep their heads above water.

Do Basset Hounds Like Swimming?

Generally, most Basset Hounds are weary around water. It makes sense given the potential challenge it poses and their likely lack of experience in it.

However, there are always exceptions to the rules, and there are some who have learned to like the water.

For the most part, the owner’s lifestyle will determine if a Basset Hound ends up liking water.

While the majority of Basset Hounds who do like water are around it more often, that does not mean that all Basset Hounds around water are going to like it.

If your Basset Hound likes water or is the curious type, you want to watch them when they are around bodies of water, so they don’t get in trouble by accidentally and not being about to get themselves out.

Whether your Basset Hound likes water or not, ensure that they will not be left unattended around any body of water.

Be careful if you have a pool in your backyard that is accessible to your Basset Hound.

You might want to think about having a portion of the yard or a kennel so that they can safely be outside without fear of falling in.

Should You Let Your Basset Hound Swim?

Whether you let your Basset Hound swim will ultimately be a decision that you need to make.

There is nothing wrong with letting your Basset Hound swim, if it’s something that they have shown interest in.

However, there are a few cautions that you may want to take to ensure they remain safe at all times:

  • Keep an Eye on Them – Don’t leave your Basset Hound alone when around water, they can get into trouble quickly and in a moment’s notice.
  • Life Jacket – If your Basset Hound will be swimming regularly or around water a lot with you, investing in a life jacket would be beneficial. Here is an ideal, best-selling life jacket to purchase from Amazon.
  • Don’t Go Too Deep – If you are going to go swimming with your Basset Hound, you may want to remain close to shallow waters.
  • Never Force – If your Basset Hound does not show interest in swimming, don’t force them to, they will have a higher chance of drowning due to panic.

If you do take your Basset Hound into the water, ensure that you completely dry out their ears when getting out.

Their long, droopy ears have a hard time drying on their own and are a perfect storm for bacteria to get in, causing ear infections.

In addition to drying out their ears, you should check them daily for a few days after being in the water to ensure that they look good and don’t have any redness or debris in them.

If you notice they don’t look right, or there is an odor coming from them, contact your veterinarian.

Teaching Your Basset Hound to Swim

The number one rule when teaching your Basset Hound to swim, or any dog really, is never to throw them in the water and expect their instincts to kick in.

They could panic, and that panic could be debilitating enough that they are unable to save themselves.

Some dogs learn better or at least are more willing to learn to swim in open water or a location where they can walk straight into shallow water.

Some dogs fear stairs, especially when they are still young, so coaxing them into a pool might be harder as the dog is focused on the stairs more so than the water.

Kiddie and paddling pools often serve as an excellent place to start. You can fill them to a suitable level and use them as an introduction to water. You can get your Basset Hounds to build confidence in and around water.

You can even get in yourself, play with them in the pool, and introduce toys and treats to create an overall positive experience. They will begin to associate happiness and safety around water.

From there you can consider visiting a nearby lake or other open body of water. At this point it is generally advised to put them in a life jacket. Put them in one early enough so they get used to the feel.

When teaching your Basset Hound to swim, make sure that you do not leave their side, and mostly stick to shallow waters. Its best to visit a location where they will be able to touch the bottom, especially in the beginning.

To keep your dog from panicking, while still learning to swim. ensure that they can get out easily and that they are aware of this.

For the first couple of times, you may want to hold your Basset Hound while going in the water and bringing them out again. This will help to teach them what is involved with getting out and the direction they need to go in.

Teaching your Basset Hound to swim will likely take a few attempts.

Don’t be discouraged if they don’t want to dive right in and start swimming right away.

Try on different occasions, getting them into the water, and be sure to use plenty of treats or toys to encourage them.

Tips for Swimming with Your Basset Hound

There are several tips to take into consideration when going swimming with your Basset Hound.

Some are general tips when swimming with any dog, while others are more specific to Basset Hounds.

Remember that Basset Hounds are stocky and heavy dogs, so staying near shallow waters is recommended.

Since they are not good swimmers, and can quickly get into trouble in the water, you may need to rescue them.

Rescuing an 80-pound dog while you’re in deep water, where you cannot touch the bottom, could become problematic quite quickly.

Don’t force your Basset Hound to swim, but if they enjoy swimming, that’s great!

Ensure that you stay close to them so that you can reach out and grab them if they get into any distress.

Ensure that your Basset Hound is full of energy when bringing them into the water so that they will have a more comfortable swimming.

An excellent tip to think about is not taking your Basset Hound swimming after a long walk or search. This activity will drain the energy from your dog and make it harder for them to keep their head above water for breathing.

In Conclusion

While technically Basset Hounds can swim, they are not good swimmers and shouldn’t be on their own around water.

Take specific precautions when you take your Basset Hound swimming so that everyone can enjoy their day.

Basset Hounds just weren’t bred to be swimmers, and their bodies are more suitable for being land-bound scent hounds. They are low to the ground, with large ears, ideally suited to help them sniff out scents. Their ears are oversized to help waft scents towards their noses – not to negotiate bodies of water!

If you live near water, have a pool, or like to summer on the lake, there is no reason for not taking your Basset Hound. There, you can attempt to swim with them so long as they have been introduced to water before.

If they are scared, never force them to go into any body of water, no matter how shallow, as this could cause psychological problems.

Remember, you may need to rescue your Basset Hound at any point, in a moment’s notice.

While 80 pounds might be easier to lift in water than it is on land, you can still run into problems helping your dog if they are panicking and thrashing. Because of this, most will recommend staying close to shallower waters.

As long as you keep in mind that Basset Hounds are not swimmers and that you need to keep an eye on them ensuring their safety, you and your Basset Hound can have a lot of fun in the water.

Just be patient, help them learn, introduce them to water over time and be patient. Ultimately you want to do all you can to make it a pleasurable and comfortable experience.

Wondering what other breeds of dog can swim? Then check out my following guides: