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Can Bullmastiffs Swim? [Should You Let Them Enter The Water?]

Nobody can accuse Bullmastiffs of ever being lazy. They enjoy running, roaming, and high-intensity exercise. But what about swimming? Can they go, should they enter the water? Here is what you need to know.

So can Bullmastiffs swim? Bullmastiffs can swim if they are well trained and exposed to swimming from a young age. However, many bullmastiffs will continue to struggle in the water because of their enormous body and shape. Teaching them to use their webbed paws as oars to navigate through the water can help them to be more proficient.

Webbed feet – an unusual canine trait but one that certainly has its advantages!

Nevertheless, it’s essential to train your Bullmastiff to swim as a puppy as these dogs are often experience water-related incidents.

While it’s more expedient to train a puppy to swim, it is possible to teach an adult mastiff to swim.


But, getting a fully developed mastiff to be in the water will take more time and patience on your part.

Its well worth the effort!

Are Bullmastiffs Good Swimmers?

Some Bullmastiffs are good swimmers. However, the breed mostly struggles in the water because of its size and body shape.

Bullmastiffs are brachycephalic, which means that they possess shortened snouts, appearing almost flat-faced.

Their head and snout formation does put them at risk for a condition known as brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Because they have breathing difficulties, they naturally struggle to breathe in the water.

It might seem strange that anybody would breed a dog with this shortened nose, but breeders initially developed them as fighting or hunting dogs, and they were not required to retrieve or ever really enter bodies of water.

Bullmastiffs would have much difficulty trying to stay afloat because to keep their head above the waterline.

They have to tilt their head upwards. This would position them in a vertical position in the water, causing them to sink.

Some Bullmastiffs can swim well, but these dogs can never be left unattended in the water.

You must supervise them closely at all times if they sink or run out of energy; you need to be there to pull them to safety quickly.

While some mastiffs get used to the water, some never do, and it’s not something you can force your dog to do.

Dogs are individuals too, and some are more confident than others with new experiences.

Do Bullmastiffs Like To Swim?

Some Bullmastiffs like to swim; there are numerous videos online of Bullmastiffs having fun at the beach, lake, or pool. However, most dogs of this breed don’t like to swim. They know instinctively from puppyhood that they cannot manage the water.

Many bulldogs have a natural fear of water, which you can thankfully, help them to overcome.

Bullmastiffs are energetic dogs that enjoy long walks and hikes; on your next outing, try to find a shallow body of water and try to get your mastiff to cross over without helping him.

He will initially try to reach you, but he should eventually cross the water by himself if you redo this step a few times.

There are numerous factors aside from breed preventing a dog from swimming, and much relies on your pet’s personality, likes and dislikes.

If your mastiff really hates the water at bath time, chances are he won’t like the water anywhere.

It would help to start making bath time more of a fun experience for your dog.

You could incorporate toys and treats to make your friend feel more at ease in the water.

If your Bullmastiff enjoys bath time, there’s a chance he will associate water with good times and be more inclined to try dipping his toes into the sea.

Make sure that your Bullmastiff experiences as many different bodies of water as possible because if they only get used to the pool, they might be fearful of the sea.

Regular exposure is the key to overcoming your dog’s fear of the water.

If your Bullmastiff has never seen any body of water bigger than his bathtub, then naturally, he will be scared of new sights and sounds such as crashing waves.

Keep in mind, that every dog is an individual and some are better at taking risks than others.

With that said, if your dog is really uncomfortable near the water, it’s best not to force him near it, as this could cause him much anxiety.

Have realistic expectations for your dog.

Even if he can swim and enjoys it, he’s not going to become a gold medallist.

These dogs need lots of supervision every time they are near on in the water.

If you are the lucky owner of a Bullmastiff that enjoys swimming, you have so many options of where you can go.

You’re not limited to the doggy park or neighborhood strolls.

You can travel to many fun locations with your best friend.

How To Take Your Bullmastiff Swimming

To help water-shy dogs, like the Bullmastiff to swim, safety must always be at the forefront of your mind.

Be prepared to supervise your dog at all times in case he gets tired and needs rescuing.

Make sure to get a decent doggy life jacket that fits him perfectly. It mustn’t be too tight or too loose that he can slip out easily.

Consider the following safety guidelines:

Consider The Depth

Do not allow your mastiff to access any water, be it a stream, pond, or lake that is deeper than his chest level.

When taking your dog out on a trip to the beach or pool, be vigilant but relaxed because if your dog sees you being nervous, then he too will be nervous.

Shallow End

Keep your Bullmastiff near the shallow end of the water wherever you are be it at the beach or lake.

Gently encourage him to splash or wade in the water as long as he doesn’t wade in over his head.

Be mindful only to encourage and not force him further into the water if he is uncomfortable.


If you have a swimming pool on your property, it’s a good idea to put a fence around it to stop your dog from having access to it.

Since some fences fail to keep dogs away from certain areas, it’s a good idea to install a ramp so that your dog can climb to safety should he fall into the pool.

Dog Training

Allowing another dog who’s an excellent swimmer to train your Bullmastiff puppy to swim is one of the safest ways to encourage your dog into the water.

If you don’t own another dog, consider inviting a friend’s dog along on your next trip to the lake.

Your Bullmastiff will learn what to do by observing the other dog.

Ensure your pet is wearing his safety jacket during his swimming lesson.


Closely supervise your Bullmastiff whenever he is in or near water, regardless of depth.

Kiddie Pool

Nonswimmers like the Bullmastiff would perhaps prefer to splash about in a kiddie pool to keep cool in the summer heat.

These are small plastic pools that people put in the gardens, and they are shallow enough for your pet to stand in the water while having a good splash.

Now that you are more aware of the water safety aspects of training your Bullmastiff to swim.

Let’s delve into how to start teaching your Bullmastiff to swim:

  • Go into shallow, slow-moving water with your Bullmastiff on a leash. It’s best if you can go into the water too. Wade a few steps into the water and gently encourage your puppy to follow you in using his favorite treats. As he wades in further only to get his toes wet, reward him.
  • If your Bullmastiff enjoys retrieving, toss in his ball or some toys to draw him a little further into the water. At every turn, throw his ball or toys further each time so that he has to swim to retrieve those items.
  • It’s a good idea to repeat these steps over a period of several days so that your dog gets accustomed to the water without getting overwhelmed.
  • Your mastiff needs to see you enjoying yourself. If he sees you happy in the water, it’s an incentive for him to join you and experience the fun you’re having.


Can Bullmastiffs swim? They can; however they require more training and encouragement than other breeds who are natural swimmers from birth.

All dogs can swim with varying abilities, and you must be mindful of the physical traits that might make it being in the water a struggle for your companion.

Encouraging a Bullmastiff who isn’t a natural water lover to swim is a daunting task, and all you can do is offer him support and positive reinforcement.

If, despite all your attempts to encourage your dog to swim, and he is still uncomfortable, please pay attention.

Don’t force him in or push him on more; however, if he loves the water, go at his pace as you don’t want a setback.

The aim of the training is to build your dog’s confidence with the water with each training session.

Your Bullmastiff may never be the champion swimmer you would like him to be, but ensuring he feels secure near the water is more important.

These dogs were never meant to be swimmers, and there are lots of things you can do together with your Bullmastiff for fun.

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