Can Victorian Bulldogs Swim? 7 Water Safety Tips For Dogs

The Victorian Bulldog is touted as a far more athletic, larger, and healthier breed of dog than it’s cousin the English Bulldog. The formation of the Victorian Bulldog was to remove some of the health issues that plague the Bulldog. With this new athletic build people often ask about their swimming abilities.

Can Victorian Bulldogs swim? As a general rule Victorian Bulldogs are not strong swimmers. Though they can learn to swim, extreme caution is advised around water. Victorian Bulldogs have large bodies and small legs which make swimming a major challenge. Life jackets are a must with this breed.

Though the Victorian Bulldog is much leaner, athletic, and stronger than the English Bulldog, they are still poor swimmers as a rule. There are examples of Victorian Bulldogs being excellent swimmers on the internet, but they are not necessarily built for this type of activity.

Training and early exposure to swimming would be needed for a Victorian Bulldog to comfortably swim. In this post I will go over some of the must needed water safety tips you should use if bringing you Victorian Bulldog near water. Let’s dive in!

Can Victorian Bulldogs Swim – A Poll

I have always known that English Bulldogs can’t swim. In fact they are among the worst swimmers in the dog world. The Victorian Bulldog however does possess a different set of physical features that could aid in their ability to swim. 

To get to the bottom of this I decided to ask members of a Victorian Bulldog Facebook group. I asked the owners about their dog’s ability, or lack thereof, to swim. The answers to the poll question “Does your Victorian Bulldog swim?” were as follows:

  • Yes, My Victorian Bulldog is a great swimmer
  • No, My Victorian Bulldog doesn’t like water or swimming
  • Yes, My Victorian Bulldog can swim but only with a life jacket.
  • No, My Victorian Bulldog can’t swim but likes the water

Victorian Bulldog Swimming Poll Results

Of the 25 Victorian Bulldog owners that responded to the poll 13 said that their Victorian Bulldog can’t swim. Many of which do not like the water. The remaining 12 responded surprisingly that their Victorian Bulldog is a great swimmer. One of which requires a life jacket.

Though more than half of the respondents say their Victorian Bulldogs can’t swim, I was shocked by the number that said they could. A few shared videos of their dogs in pools or lakes and sure enough they could swim. Though all of them looked to be working harder than say a water dog like a Retriever.

Regardless of your Victorian Bulldogs swimming ability it is vital that water safety is always a top priority. Sadly a respondent to this poll expressed in the comment section that she had lost her dog to drowning and pleaded with others to practice water safety.

I echo her comment and ask that you always practice some of the water safety tips in the section below.

Water Safety Tips For Victorian Bulldogs

Avoid Cold Water

Cold water can be a shock to your Victorian Bulldog.  Quickly leading to hypothermia. Avoid taking your Bulldog swimming when the water is too cold. Like humans, cold water can create a dangerous situation when our bodies respond negatively. Often leading to disaster.

Always Be Nearby

No matter what your Victorian Bulldog’s swimming ability might be, never let them swim too far from you. Be nearby for potential problems. It can only take a few seconds for your Bulldog to find themselves in real trouble. You must be able to jump in and assist within seconds.

Progress Slowly

Slow and steady is the name of the game. No need to rush your Victorian Bulldog’s swimming abilities. Go slow and allow them to interact in the water at their own comfort level. Pushing your Bulldog too far too soon can be dangerous. Progress slowly. Allow them to do things at their own pace.

Keep Swimming Sessions Short

Even strong swimmers will tire quickly. Swimming is a difficult exercise. This is especially true for Victorian Bulldogs. The build of their body will require a great deal of effort to stay afloat. Propelling themselves through the water is no easy task.

Keep swimming sessions short. Never have your Victorian Bulldog reach the point of exhaustion before reaching the shore. This can happen very quickly and your Bulldog will begin to struggle. Swimming sessions must be short and safe.

Discourage Your Dog From Drinking The Water

Exercise is going to make your Victorian Bulldog thirsty. Swimming water is the same as any other source of water. You and I know this can be terrible. Pools, lakes, creeks and especially ponds can contain harmful pollutants, bacteria and cleaning chemicals that are not good for your dog to ingest.

Discourage your Bulldog from drinking the swimming water and provide them with a fresh clean water source. Showing your Victorian Bulldog you have their water bowl with cool, fresh, clean water will help them avoid drinking the pond and pool.

Be Mindful Of Other Wildlife In The Water

Depending on the area you live you may encounter various kinds of wildlife in the various bodies of water. Be very mindful of your environment. Birds, large fish, sharks, alligators, beavers, etc.. can all be present and pose a threat. Even animals such as deer or coyotes looking for a drink at the water’s edge need to be considered.

Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and never place your dog at risk of an animal encounter. Especially in the water where they are extra vulnerable.

Always Wear A Life Jacket

I am of the opinion that Bully breeds such as Victorian Bulldogs should always wear life jackets around water. Many people have confidence in their dog’s ability, but for me I’d rather be safe than sorry. I strongly recommend always wearing a life jacket.

There are plenty of great options for Bulldogs when it comes to life jackets. These are some of the best quality, safest, and top rated life jackets on the market.

Outward Hound PupSaver


Outward Hound Granby RipStop Dog Life Jacket


EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Life Jacket


Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket


Queenmore Dog Life Jacket


Final Thoughts

Though the majority of Victorian Bulldogs are terrible swimmers and should probably avoid the water as a whole. This doesn’t mean they can never swim, and that it can’t be done safely. Even if your Bulldog enjoys the water but has no interest in swimming, the above tips should be followed.

Water safety with your Victorian Bulldog needs to be a top priority, and with these tips you can ensure you are doing all you can. Always be mindful of your environment, their energy level, and always ALWAYS have them wearing a life jacket.

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