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Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Swim? [Are They Naturally Capable?]

If you own a Bernese Mountain Dog, then you may have wondered whether you can take them for a swim. In fact, due to their dense coats, size and weight you may be wondering if it is even possible for them. Do they have the stamina for such a task? With safety always needing to come first, I decided to do some research as to how well this breed copes in the water. I will be sharing my research here today.

So, can Bernese Mountain dogs swim? Bernese Mountain dogs can swim, although many do not like the water. Equally, they are not the best swimmers compared to other breeds; it’s not instinctive for them to know how to naturally do so. With all of that said, you can still encourage your Bernese Mountain dog to enjoy the water and with some safe exposure and a little training, you can get them to swim more proficiently.

Many dogs are naturals in the water, and they love nothing more than having a swim and splashing about on a hot summer’s day.

If your dog can swim, there is no end to the fun that they can have in addition to walking, jogging and playing catch. It also is a fun activity for you to do with them and as the owner alike.

If you own a Bernese Mountain dog, it’s only natural to wonder if they can swim well. Especially as their cousins, the Newfoundlands, are famous for their love of water and ability in it!

While some may be more than capable, Bernese Mountain dogs do require a lot of supervision in and around water.

They can get tired very quickly – they don’t have the endurance for this kind of activity and they could easily drown. This is especially true if they are subjected to deep waters before they fully become accustom to swimming.

But swimming is not off the cards entirely, and you can take proactive measures to help teach them and support them if they ever wanted to, or needed to swim. Let us now take a closer look at whats involved in the following sections.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Good Swimmers?

Generally speaking, Bernese Mountain dogs do not make good swimmers. It does not come natural to them.

Keep in mind that these dogs originate from the Swiss Alps, so mountains once were the only surroundings. Hence their name.

It follows that their body type and coats also attest to this fact. This sizable and powerful dog was once used as a farm dog, specifically for pulling carts. So, they have built a frame to support such work.

Beyond this, the coat of this mountain dog is quite heavy. It consists of a double coat- it has a long outer coat with a woolly undercoat, not an ideal coat for swimming. But more ideal for keeping this breed warm to protect them from the harsh climates.

Thankfully, as a former working dog, they do have a lot of natural energy and stamina. This does bode well for them, plus the fact they have relatively strong legs which they can use to navigate the water.

Having taken a look at a lot of reports from owners; most Bernese Mountain dogs prefer paddling in shallow water. But it is definitely possible for others to be able to swim in deeper bodies such as lakes and the sea with their owners.

For deeper bodies, this generally takes time and cannot be done right away. The dog needs exposure to water from a young age. Consider that they need to build up their confidence in this kind of environment and not panic as waters get deeper and they are more reliant on their movement patterns to stay afloat.

They also need to develop their stamina within the water and to use their energy effectively within it.

But ultimately, we must consider that most Bernese Mountain dogs do not like like water and will not want to swim. This must be acknowledged and respected. Its also no cause for concern. In fact, it should be somewhat expected.

If you have a can’t swim, won’t swim kind of dog, it’s best not to force them in the water. This will not help them overcome their dislike or fear. Instead, it will likely have the opposite effective while being outright dangerous.

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Like To Swim?

The majority of Bernese Mountain dogs will often enjoy paddling in shallow water. However, many don’t like to swim in deeper bodies.

Many other dog breeds take to swimming naturally and love it as part of their exercise regime. Its good for them; it strengthens their muscles while burning calories, and it’s good for their mental well-being.

But, Bernese Mountain dogs hail from the Swiss mountains – where it’s snowy and cold. Aside from ponds and shallow water areas, there are no significant bodies of water in this environment.

So, these dogs don’t have the instinct or natural desire to swim, unlike in other breeds such as the Newfoundland.

For Bernese Mountain dogs, swimming is a means to an end; something they will only want to do if they feel the need to or are introduced to this activity.

You can encourage a Bernese puppy to learn to swim and enjoy the water, but all will have their own personalities. Not all will take to it.

Even with early training, there is no guarantee that your Bernese Mountain dog will swim confidently enough to enjoy it. Generally, most Bernese prefer to be indoors rather than be outside – especially in the hot weather like other dogs.

Try to have fun with your pup, but do not stress about getting them swimming, as it might not be something you can ever do with them.

Typically, it is more common to see these dogs paddling in a shallow pond or creek but not diving headfirst into the sea.

Taking Your Bernese Mountain Dog Swimming

When you intend to take your Bernese Mountain dog swimming, don’t have too high hopes and judge the situation subjectively.

You must pay attention to your companion and make sure that they are comfortable, safe, and having fun at all times.

Consider the following steps when taking your Bernese Mountain dog swimming:

Train As A Puppy

If you want your Bernese Mountain dog to enjoy the water in the future, it’s best to start training them while they are young. This is when they appear to be most risk-averse and able to build confidence more easily in new activities.

Regular exposure to water, whether it’s just a kiddie paddling pool or a small stream, will give your pup a love of water. Especially if you can make it fun!

Start Shallow

Never start in the deep end when it comes to teaching your pup to swim.

You can introduce them to water initially by giving them frequent baths, then moving on to a shallow pool, or a slow-paced creek, before ever looking to introduce them to deeper bodies, such as a lake or the ocean.

Don’t Force Swimming

It is much easier to teach your Bernese Mountain dog to swim if you start them young, as a puppy.

With that said, if they feel uncomfortable and frightened of the water, you should take them out immediately.

You cannot force this breed to swim; irregardless of age. If they do not want to swim, it’s not happening.

Increase Exposure To Water

Once your dog has splashed around in shallow water, you can move them onto deeper waters and prolong the amount of time they spend in the water.

Exposing your dog to the water in increments will get them more confident in water and increase their enjoyment and desire to swim.

Offer Praise And Treats

Bernese Mountain dogs enjoy making their owners happy – it gives them confidence and makes them feel good.

When your Bernese tries his best to swim, encourage them by giving them lots of praise and treats – they will motivate your dog to continue and improve their swimming technique.

Teach By Example

If your Bernese Mountain dog has never been around water before, encourage them to watch other dogs swimming. If you have other dogs that can swim, having your dog watch them in the water might help your dog overcome their fears.

If you don’t have other dogs, you can take your dog to the beach where he can see first-hand other dogs swimming.

Failing this, get in the water yourself and encourage your dog in. Dogs trust and rely on their owners, so simply getting in yourself may be enough to begin the process. Equally, you’ll be on hand to help them if required.

Play Games In The Water

Bernese Mountain dogs like to play games. You can incorporate toys and games in the water – this will keep them engaged and mentally occupied – not being able to worry and more enthusiastic about being in the water.

Take Breaks

If your Bernese Mountain dog feel uncertain in the water and is struggling to adjust, take a break and play another game – keep them happy and relaxed.

Once your dog has relaxed, you can slowly try getting them into the water again.

Breaks help dogs adjust if they are doing well in the water, and it gives their muscles a needed break too.

Tips For Swimming With Your Bernese Mountain Dog

When taking your Bernese Mountain dog to the water, safety is crucial. It should always be prioritized. This is not the kind of breed you can ignore; you’ll need to monitor them at all times and be close to support them if necessary.

There are also some supplies that come recommended by experts in the field. Not only will this support your dog during the activity, but also ensure they are not exposed to any issues following it.

Consider the following steps in keeping your dog safe when in, and having left the water:

Get A Life Jacket

Both new and experienced swimmers need life-jackets, particularly in large bodies of water, where their feet won’t touch the bottom. This is particularly true of larger breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Though a life jacket is not absolutely mandatory, it does come highly recommended.

They are not overly expensive and makes the entire process less stressful for both you and your dog. Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) suggest it!

There are a lot of decent dog life jackets on the market, but the Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket on Amazon has hundreds of positive reviews.

Keep Ears Dry

To prevent infection, make sure that you completely dry out your dog’s ears after they have been in water, or swum.

You can purchase wax plugs from any pharmacy that prevents water from entering the inner ear and then when they get out, you should dry out the ear carefully yet thoroughly with a soft towel.

You can also use ear cleansing formulations that will dry up any residual water in your dog’s ears. These drops help to prevent infection and the build-up of yeast/wax with constant exposure to water.

This is the one to buy from Amazon.


Your Bernese Mountain dog should never be left unattended, no matter how competent a swimmer they are.

While you may not need to rescue them, they may need some support getting out of the water or some direction on where to go to do so.

Care For The Coat

Your dog’s thick coat will be quite dense and unkempt after being in the water. You should consider an after-water coat care regime for your dog to prevent matting.

You can get an all-natural dog shampoo from Amazon after to keep your dog’s coat clean, moist and healthy-looking.

Make sure you completely rinse off your dog’s coat to remove chemicals and dirt. You should use a high-velocity hairdryer to blow dry your dog’s coat – they work in half the time an ordinary hair dryer works, so they are a good investment.

Make sure that your dog’s skin is dry as water left on the skin can cause nasty yeast infections. A slicker brush will work quite well to de-matt your Bernese Mountain dog’s coat, once it’s dry.

If you skip brushing the coat, your Bernese will likely need to be shaved down as matt can develop next to the skin.


Bernese Mountain dogs are not natural lovers of the water; it’s understandable when you keep in mind their native environment and their size!

These dogs were once surrounded by mountains with only very shallow bodies of water.

While most dogs love nothing more than diving into cold water on a hot summer’s day, the same cannot be said for the Bernese Mountain dog.

Instead, they prefer to stay indoors on a hot day than frolic in a creek.

As with any dog, you can encourage certain behaviors or likes by training Bernese Mountain dogs from puppyhood.

Frequent exposure to water should turn your water-shy pup into a more competent swimmer.

But with that said, you must still supervise your companion when they are in the water, as these dogs don’t have the endurance other breeds have naturally and can drown very quickly.

If you find that your Bernese Mountain dog hates swimming, engage them in other activities.

These dogs love being out in cold weather; their thick coats are ideal for cool temperatures.

Bernese Mountain dogs love to gambol in the snow, and as an Alpine breed, let them pull sleds and carts mainly if children are involved as they love children.

Keep in mind that this dog breed doesn’t need a ton of exercise; they are equally happily curled up on the sofa, enjoying the peace.

So if you do want to take them swimming. Take it slow, keep it safe, and respect the needs and desires of your dog. It may be possible to swim with them, it might not.

But, by giving it a try and exposing them to water slowly and regularly, you’ll soon be able to find out!

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