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Can Lhasa Apsos Swim? [Do They Enjoy Being In The Water?]

A non-sporting dog breed traditionally used as an indoor guard dog. And then there is the floor-length, flat-hanging coat. It’s only natural that you are questioning whether a Lhasa Apsos can, or even, should swim. Let’s find out!

So can Lhasa Apsos swim? Lhasa Apsos can swim, albeit not very well. This breed is lively and fast but runs out of energy quickly. They don’t possess the energy required for swimming in natural bodies of water. Lhasa Apsos also have long coats, which makes swimming even more physically challenging.

In reality, all dogs can swim.

But, specific breed characteristics can make being in the water much more challenging

Whether its body shapes, energy levels or coat lengths; there are several that can certainly work both for, and against, a dog in the water.

And for the Lhasa Apsos, unfortunately they have several that go against them.

So while Lhasa Apsos may enjoy moderate exercises like walks and even short hikes, they are generally known for being water-shy dogs.

They seem to know what is best for them, instinctively.

Thankfully, while Lhasa Apsos are not natural swimmers, some dogs of the breed if gently encouraged, so sometimes take to it.

And learn to enjoy it, too.

Are Lhasa Apsos Good Swimmers?

Lhasa Apsos generally do not swim very well. While many dog breeds love being in the water for lengthy periods, Lhasas are usually nervous around water. It seems from puppyhood; most Lhasa Apsos shy away from water.

Certain working breeds are natural swimmers as they were bred for water jobs.

Dogs like the Labrador retriever, Portuguese water dog, and Irish water spaniel are excellent swimmers because they possess the ideal physical structure and have water-repellent coats.

Lhasa Apsos were never needed for swimming; they originate from Tibet.

Some worked as herding dogs, others as guard dogs because of their intelligence and alert personality.

However, they were mostly used as companion dogs, much like today.

These dogs are also small with big heads and short legs.

They have a long, single-layered coat which doesn’t keep them warm in cold temperatures.

As we can see, the Lhasa Apso is just not built for swimming.

Nevertheless, some Lhasas can swim quite well, but only typically for short distances at a time.

Getting your little buddy in the water will take gentle encouragement with safety in the forefront of your mind, especially since these dogs don’t have the same endurance as other breeds.

When teaching your dog to do something new, like, going for a splash, it’s best to adopt a more relaxed approach.

The calmer you are, the calmer your Lhasa Apsos will be.

Go slow, making sure your pet feels comfortable even if it’s far from the shore, as forcing them closer when they’re already nervous can instill more fear.

Your dog needs to see you enjoying yourself in the water – this is an incentive for your little friend to join you in all the fun.

Entice your dog to the water using high-value treats to make your day at the lake a more positive experience.

The more practice your dog gets in the water, the more confident they will be.

They will certainly be more confident when you head out to the beach for some family fun.

Try to bring your puppy to as many different bodies of water as possible as some dogs may like the pool but are afraid of the lake and vice versa.

Do Lhasa Apsos Like To Swim?

Some Lhasa Apsos enjoy swimming – this is evident by the many online videos of dogs of the breed doing so. Lhasa Apsos live to please their owners, and if you enjoy the water, chances are this will encourage your water-shy pal to swim.

This dog breed really wants to be part of his household and take part in family activities – so you may be able to get them to do so in this way.

Nonetheless and generally speaking, Lhasa Apsos don’t enjoy swimming.

As puppies, they shy away from water, as if they instinctively know their limitations.

Some never get used to the water and will keep away from it as adults.

If you own a Lhasa Apsos that loves to swim, that’s wonderful.

It allows you to go to more fun places with your little companion and gives him plenty of exercise.

However, if yours remains reluctant to give swimming a try, it’s best not to force them.

It’s always sensible to encourage your pet to try something new and fun without pressuring them.

This will only make him more anxious.

Not the desired outcome.

The Lhasa Apsos may not be much of a natural swimmer, but you must consider other reasons why your dog feels uncomfortable in and around water:

  • Does your Lhasa Apsos enjoy the bath? The chances are that if he hates bath time, he won’t like the water in other situations. Think of making bath time more enjoyable by using treats. Positive reinforcement can help to make bath time a happy experience for your dog.
  • If your Lhasa Apsos is unfamiliar with anything bigger than his bathtub or a pool, naturally, he will be incredibly nervous about a larger body of water. New smells and the sounds of crashing waves might be too intense for your little buddy initially.
  • Some dogs are more anxious than others; this is true of even considerably braver breeds. Some dogs are more likely to take risks, such as plunging into a suspicious substance like water.

Teaching Your Lhasa Apsos To Swim

If you wish to teach your Lhasa Apsos to swim, the optimum time is when he is a puppy. Puppyhood is a short window to help your pet conquer his fears about the water.

However, if yours is an adult, it’s never too late – it just might take a little longer and you may need to go a little slower.

The first thing you must consider is keeping your Lhasa safe, whether it’s in a paddling pool or at the lake.

Consider the following safety advice:

Water Proof Life Jacket

Get a good-quality, water-proof life jacket and put it on your Lhasa Apsos whenever you’re near water.

The life jacket should fit your dog perfectly; he should not be able to slide out of it.

The jacket should have a handle at the top to allow you to pull him to safety quickly.

Shallow End

Keep your Lhasa near the shallow end of the water when you are at the beach or lake.

You can try encouraging him to splash or wade in the water without forcing him.

Make sure he doesn’t wade in over his head.


If you have a swimming pool on your property, put a fence around it to prevent access for your dog.

Consider installing a ramp to allow him to climb to safety if he does fall in the pool.

Swimming Buddy

The AKC recommends allowing another dog who is an adept swimmer to teach your water-shy puppy to swim.

This is the safest method to teach your dog to swim safely, so if you don’t have another dog, invite a friend’s dog who is an excellent swimmer to one of your trips.

Your Lhasa Apsos will learn what to do from observing the other dog.

Make sure that your companion is wearing his life vest during his swimming lesson.

Keep A Close Eye

Keep a close eye on your Lhasa Apsos at all times whenever he is near water, even shallow water.

Kiddie Pools

A poor swimmer like the Lhasa Apsos would perhaps prefer to cool off in the summer heat in a kiddie pool.

They are shallow enough for your dog to stand in the water while letting him enjoy splashing about.

Now that you are aware of water safety with your Lhasa Apsos.

Let’s explore more of how to go about teaching your Lhasa to swim.

  1. Go into the shallow, slow-moving water with your Lhasa Apso on a leash. It’s better to be at a place where you can also enter the water. Take a few steps into the water and encourage your dog to follow you using his favorite treats. If he makes any attempt to go into the water, even he just gets his toes wet, reward him. Gradually beckon your dog to wade in further into the water until he has to swim to reach you.
  2. If your Lhasa Apsos likes retrieving, toss in his toys or ball a little further into the water. Toss it a bit further at every turn so that your companion has to swim to reach his ball or toy.
  3. You must try the first two steps over a period of several days so that your dog doesn’t become overwhelmed.


Encouraging any dog who’s nervous around the water to swim can be a daunting task, but all you can do is offer your dog support.

Lhasa Apsos don’t respond well to being forced in the water, so don’t even try.

Use positive reinforcement, treats, and toys to draw your little Lhasa, but if he isn’t comfortable being in the pool or the lake, leave him be.

If he is comfortable being in the water, go at his pace to prevent any setbacks, as you aim to build your dog’s confidence with each training session.

Your Lhasa Apsos may never be the champion swimmer you would like him to be, but ensuring that he feels safe near water is more important.

After all, he was never built to be a swimmer.

There are plenty of activities you and your little companion can do together.

Lhasa Apsos like regular walks, about two to three times a day.

These dogs like being silly, so you can expect to participate in regular playtime with your pet.

Whether that’s in the water, or firmly out of it; well that’s going to be something that will vary by dog.

Whatever you do decide, just be sure to remain safe and vigilant at all times!

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