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Can Papillons Swim? [What You Absolutely Must Consider]

Papillons are known for their high energy and exercise needs. But what about swimming? Is this a good channel for them to burn up some energy? Should they ever enter the water? Let’s find out.

So, can papillons swim? Papillons can swim, but many dogs of this breed have a strong disliking for water and will proactively avoid it. It is therefore essential that you let a papillon enter the water on their own accord, monitor them closely, and ensure that they can easily exit as and when desired.

In fact, many owners of the papillon breed report that their dog “hates” water.

Refusing to go out in the rain, avoiding puddles and doing all they can to avoid bathtime.

But like any breed, there are papillons who do take a liking to water too.

It comes down to personality really. Even if this is not common for this dog.

Nevertheless, let us take a closer look at the potential for swimming with a papillon, and how to do it, if your dog does appear to want to do so.

Do Papillons Like To Swim?

Some papillons like to swim, but this appears to be the exception rather than the norm. Even then, it appears that papillons prefer shallow bodies of water and to swim for shorter periods of time.

In reality, whether or not a papillon is going to like swimming is going to come down to context.

Some do.

Most don’t.

And whether they do can be ascertained mostly by how they behave around water.

Its important to look out for these cues.

Do they panic or run away from water – such as when at the beach and the water approaches?

Or, do they proactively play with sprinklers and are keen to be out in the rain?

If you were to put a kiddie pool down – would they enter and enjoy the experience or jump out right away?

Well, this is something only your dog can show you.

And for this reason, there is an element of trial and error here.

So long as it is done safely, of course.

For the most part, a papillon is unlikely to want to go swimming when presented with an opportunity.

But you may be surprised.

Should You Take Your Papillon Swimming

Whether or not you should take your papillon swimming depends on their age, size, fondness of water in general, and the body of water.

So long as it is safe, there is no reason why you cannot give swimming a try and to see how your papillon responds.

They may love it.

And it may become a great way for them to exercise and burn off some excess energy.

However, there is no reason why you should or have to go swimming.

They do not ‘need it’.

Nor should these dogs ever be forced into the water.

It can be a source of great stress and anxiety for them. Particularly if they are not used to or have been exposed to water before.

So, get to know your papillon, and introduce shallow waters slowly.

And take it from there.

Just remember – there are plenty of other exercise options for this breed.

They will not be missing out if they cannot or are not willing to swim.

How To Swim With A Papillon

Assuming your papillon is of sufficient age, is showing all the right signals, and do not have a keen dislking to water in general, you can look to introduce them to water.

Start slow and be cautious at all times.

It is generally advised to purchase a kiddie pool for them to begin with and to place this in a shaded and calm place in your backyard.

This kiddie pool should not be too deep, but enough for your papillon to feel the water and be at least knee deep.

Adding toys or even treats to the pool can be a good way to entice or encourage them in and make the experience as positive as possible for them.

But never force or drop your dog into the pool.

This can have disastrous effects on their confidence long-term and cause a lot of stress in the short term.

If your papillon takes to the water or appears to enjoy the experience, then be sure to repeat it.

Let them go into the kiddie pool routinely, just be sure that the water is clean and is of a good temperature.

From there, you may be able to progress to a larger body of water.

This could be a swimming pool, or even a lake.

The word may is important here.

It may not be appropriate for all papillons.

Even those that are showing confidence in kiddie pools.

But if you are willing to give it a try – seek out a body of water that you know is particularly safe.

Inspect the area first, ensure you have permission to enter the water, make sure it is contaminated etc.

You need to be particularly careful with lakes as they can be carrying harmful pathogens and bacteria that could cause severe illness if your papillon were to ingest them.

It is also strongly advised to purchase a life-jacket for these dogs, like the best-selling one below from Amazon 👇

This will keep them afloat should your dog start dwindling for energy.

It also has handles that you can use to pull your dog out of the water, should you need to.

Then, when your papillon is all suited and booted, there are some things you can do to help them:

  • Show them how to enter and exit the water – you can even do this yourself, or suggest the route via a leash or even with treats
  • Remain close and be there to comfort your papillon
  • Be ready, willing, and able to get your dog out of the water should the need arise.
  • Keep swimming time short and build up their confidence slowly.

If your papillon seems to do well in lakes, then they may be able to progress to the sea.

Just remember, the sea can be a very dangerous place for dogs and there are a lot of potential dangers to them.

So, its important first and foremost that if you are considering letting your dog swim in the sea – you do so on a day when the waters are calm.

At the same time, you do not want to let your papillon go to far out.

Thankfully, they will not likely venture far out anyway.

If you do decide to go swimming in the sea. Again, stick on the lifejacket and go out with them a little.

Remain close, reassure your dog, and get out as soon as you can or need to.

This should be a light, gentle, enjoyable experience.


Papillons are able to swim. At least physically.

They’re energetic dogs whom are very agile.

Their bodies do not cause any issues for swimming like in other breeds.

They are also very intelligent and keen to learn new things.


And here is the big but.

They are not the most avid of swimmers.


They do not generally like water.

And for this reason, swimming for most dogs of the breed is out of the question.

That is not to say that all papillons cannot enjoy some swimming from time to time.

But it does mean that there are no guarentees.

It’s something you’ll need to investigate for yourself.

Just be sure that when you do, you make it as safe and enjoyable experience as you can.

Remain vigilant to the reactions of your dog. Ensure they remain calm and collected.

You need to keep them safe – and build their confidence in water over time.

This is not something that can be rushed.

That being said, with a little time, patience and training – you may be able to make swimming a regular part of their exercise regimen.

But don’t count on it.

For some dogs of the breed – a walk, a game of fetch – or any activity without the involvement of water are going to be much more preferred!

Looking to learn more about the Papillon breed? Check out my guides below!