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Can Blue Heelers Swim? [You’ll Be Pleased You Asked]

Blue Heelers, often called Australian cattle dogs among other aliases, are known for their non-stop energy. These dogs result from cross-breeding the dingo with the blue merle by British settlers in the late 1800s. So, with that kind of genetics, it’s no wonder these working dogs have tons of energy and love to be active. But can, or should they swim? Here is what you should know.

So, can Blue Heelers swim? Blue Heelers can swim, and they are known to be very keen and proficient in the water. They have a unique coat that is water-resistant, and they are built for power and possess great stamina. Despite being natural swimmers, they still require safe exposure to the water from an early age.

Virtually all cattle dogs enjoy the water, and can’t wait to run and play in it.

They love to dive and fetch in the water and watching them swim is impressive.

While you need to be careful when it’s their first time in a body of water, most of the time, these puppies just jump right in!

Nevertheless, let us take a closer look at these innate capabilities before turning to how you can leverage them and enjoy yourself with your water-loving dog.

Are Blue Heelers Good Swimmers?

Blue Heelers are excellent swimmers – they have the advantage of possessing the ideal swimmer’s physique. They are strong, with muscular legs, a short snout (which helps with breathing), and waterproof fur. This type of athletic build gives these dogs the endurance they need to swim at length, play, and fetch in the water.

Naturally, Blue Heelers never have difficulty staying afloat as they can keep their heads above the waterline.

In fact, some Blue Heelers excel at dock diving – this is one of the fastest-growing canine sports.

It’s quite hilarious, as you can see below:

Dogs diving involves dogs competing in jumping or diving for height and distance into a body of water.

The jump is measured from the lateral center point of the dock’s end, where the base of the dog’s tail breaks the water’s surface.

Now would a dog scared of the water or incapable of swimming jump into it like that?

Nonetheless, to understand why these dogs are excellent swimmers, it’s essential to understand a little bit about their history and how they came to be the fantastic, capable dogs they are today.

British settlers to Australia noticed that their English sheepdogs couldn’t cope with long working days in the blistering Australian sun.

So, they were cross-bred with native dingoes; these native dogs have lots of energy and can endure extreme heat.

The dingo is a muscular dog with a short coat, angular head, and erect ears. These are the traits that make dogs champion swimmers.

Later the heelers were cross-bred with collies, kelpies, and Dalmatians to keep their desired traits.

All of which being of great athletism, agility, and thus capability while swimming.

Do Blue Heelers Like To Swim?

Most Blue Heelers love to swim; it would be rare to find one that didn’t as generally, these dogs are natural water lovers. Although some don’t always take to the water straight away and will likely require a little bit of encouragement.

Thankfully, most puppies do take to the water without much prompting or training – and this is an ideal time to get them used to it and to build their confidence.

Some Blue Heelers have no problem sticking their head right under the water if they want to retrieve an object, and many love a simple doggy paddle.

Others enjoy splashing and jumping into the water.

And even in cold water, these dogs fair particularly well – their double coat helps to keep them warm.

Within reason – of course!

And tapping into this love of swimming is certainly something you should look to do as an owner.

Swimming keeps these dogs fit and healthy, and takes pressure of joints and limbs that typically get a lot of us!

Swimming strengthens and tones muscles without impacting the joints.

It also improves circulation, which keeps your dog’s skin and coats healthy.

When a dog is healthy and gets plenty of exercise, it also does wonders for their mental well-being.

Dogs love activities that keep them in shape physically and mentally – and what better way than swimming or activity in the water.

Swimming also provides and an excellent bonding opportunity for owners and dogs; you blue heeler will love the company this time can bring.

Taking Your Blue Heeler Swimming

Most Blue Heelers can swim and love it; nevertheless, entering the water can be scary for any dog for the first time.

It’s a bad idea to throw your dog in the water and hope for the best.

For one thing, it will make your dog mistrust you, and the frightening experience may put them off being near the water again.

So, you need to be aware of some things when keeping your dog safe on their first exposure to a body of water.

Take note of the following guidelines:

Safety First

Your blue heeler should be wearing a well-fitted doggy life vest.

It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose that he can easily slip out of.

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You must also bring clean drinking water, a water dish, a safety harness with a handle, a first-aid kit, and a dog floatation device.

Consider The Water

Keep in mind that not all swimming areas are dog-friendly, so it’s wise to check the rules before you go.

It’s best to take your dog to slow-moving but not stagnant water as it often contains parasites, mosquitos, and dangerous amoeba.

Start Shallow

Begin by taking your dog to the slow-moving, shallow water and call your dog’s name.

You can use a toy or a ball to get him to follow you.

Throw the ball into the water to encourage your dog to swim for it.

At each turn, increase the distance.

Ensure that your dog is within your reach, and watch out for strong tides that are hazardous to even proficient swimmers.

Train Swimming Technique

If your dog starts to doggy paddle with his front legs, pick up his back legs and help him to float.

He will eventually catch on to the idea and learn to keep his back end up.

Keep Sessions Short

Undoubtedly, once your dog gets used to the water, he will love it.

However, you don’t want him to overdo it, as he is using new muscles and could tire quickly, which isn’t safe.

So, be sure to keep your initial swimming sessions short and brief. Build up the time in subsequent visits accordingly.

Prevent Drinking

Your heeler may start drinking the water they swim in, but you must not allow them to do so.

Seawater for instance, contains salt and other contaminants that can make your dog sick.

Check Water Conditions

To ensure they are fully safe for your dog.

For sea swimming, you need to be particularly careful as dogs are often targets for jellyfish and other stinging sea creatures.

Limit Sun Exposure

You must limit your dog’s exposure to the sun and apply dog-safe sunscreen to their nose and ears to prevent burning.

You will need to do this thirty minutes before heading out and it may require a top up.

Here is a great vet-approved product to consider:

Leverage Other Dogs

One excellent way to teach your Blue Heeler puppy to swim is by introducing him to the water with a dog that can swim and is also friendly with your dog.

Keep Your Dog Relaxed

Blue Heelers might be naturals in the water, but they still need to associate being at the beach or lake with calmness and good memories.

It doesn’t help your puppy if you’re nervous about taking them or being stressed by the general experience.

Your dog can pick up on that.

Instead, you need to take a relaxed approach.

Better still, let your puppy see you enjoying yourself, as this will incentivize him to start swimming.

Keep A Close Eye

If your Blue Heeler isn’t enjoying the water he will burn through his energy faster, which can be very dangerous.

When this happens, you must pull your dog out of the water immediately.

Regular Water Exposure

It’s essential to expose your dog to as many different bodies of water as often as possible, as some dogs may be confident at the pool but not at the beach.

Others may be confident at the lake but nowhere else and so on.

Water Activities For Your Blue Heeler

We know that frequent exposure to different water types is essential, so let’s look at some fun ways to enjoy the water, whether you’re in your backyard, at the pool, beach, lake, or river.

  • Splash In The Pool. Fill a durable pet pool with water and let your dog jump in and out as much as he likes. This will be so entertaining for him and a great way to cool off on a hot sunny day!
  • Play Catch. When at the pool, throw a ball or frisbee, letting your dog jump in to catch it in his mouth before he hits the water.
  • Water Retrieval. Blue Heelers will enjoy this fetch-like game. This is especially fun at the lake or even in a river. You can throw a water-proof toy for them to go after and return.
  • Towing. Towing will teach your dog a rescue skill as you float in the water. You attach a ski rope leash to their life jacket and let them practice pulling you along.
  • Wave Diving. Allow your dog to dive into the approaching waves. Make sure that he has a life jacket on first, as even experienced swimmers can struggle in the immense sea swells. Better still, stay close to him and keep in the shallower parts of the beach.


Blue Heelers are powerful dogs, and that certainly extends to the water!

These dogs love swimming and it helps that they are naturally very good at it.

They are simply built for activity, and have all the traits required to navigate the water.

Strength, endurance, and agility combined with a waterproof coat and a short snout that supports breathing.

So, if you have a blue heeler, or are soon looking to get one – be sure to introduce them to water from a young age.

Even older blue heelers can still take to the water – but may require some encouragement.

Either way, start slow and ensure that your dog is fitted with a life jacket.

Stick to the shallow end, especially when they are first learning to swim.

In time they can swim longer, further afield and in more tricky bodies of water.

Just be sure to keep a mindful eye and ensure your dog is safe at all times.

Keep in mind that some public swimming places are not pet-friendly, so be sure to check in advance.

There are also many ways to have fun with water in your backyard – you do not always need to venture out!

With so many options, your blue heeler, you, and your family will be entertained all summer long!