Can Yorkies Swim?

can a Yorkshire-Terrier swim

In theory, most healthy dogs can swim. Some dogs take to the water naturally and are better swimmers than others, and some were actually bred to be strong swimmers. 

Can Yorkies swim? Yes yorkies can swim. In fact, their lightweight frame and thin coat make them an excellent swimmer in certain conditions.

However, not all yorkies like to swim. Some dogs are nervous around water, and some just don’t like it.

Is Swimming Good Exercise For A Yorkie?

One of the best ways of exercising your dog is to bring him to your local park, beach or lakeside and if possible, let him run about off leash. 

For some dogs this is doggy heaven. From the freedom of running around and sniffing whatever they like, to the fun of playing in the water and cooling down, especially on a hot summer day.

Dogs naturally move around at a faster pace than us humans, so often the best way to get them to burn a few calories is to let them move around at their own pace.

When it comes to getting into the water, some dogs are more suited to swimming than others. Larger dogs such as German shepards, labradors and even springer spaniels just love the water. My springer spaniel Alfie would spend all day bouncing around in the sea if I let him.

However, smaller dog breeds like the Yorkie, may not be as enthusiastic about the water at first.

Are Yorkies Good Swimmers?

Nearly all dogs have the potential to be good swimmers, and yorkies are no different.

Obviously, larger breeds are going to be the stronger swimmers, but some can run into difficulty when it comes to their coats and their breathing.

Yorkies are small, lightweight and energetic. They also have a coat that is well suited to the water.

The AKC breed standard describes their coat as ‘Hair is glossy, fine and silky in texture’.

A fine, silky coat is ideal for swimming as it’s aerodynamic and doesn’t weigh them down when it gets wet. 

Yorkies also have a single layered coat. Some outdoor breeds like the Husky or Border Collie have a thick undercoat that insulates them when they are working outside during the winter. This undercoat however is not well suited to getting wet. When it gets soaked, it gets heavy, making it much more difficult to move around in water.

The Yorkie has a fairly thin, single layered coat that repels water rather than soaking it up. This means it doesn’t weigh the Yorkie down too much when it gets wet.

Yorkshire terrier coat
Cute little Yorkie puppy with a typical Yorkie coat

Some dog breeds are not suited to swimming because of they suffer from breathing problems. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the medical term for upper airway problems found in short-nosed breeds such as the Bulldog, Boxer, Pug and Chihuahua.

These dogs hate swimming and are not good in the water. The Yorkie usually doesn’t have any breathing problems, although some may suffer from a narrowed trachea condition known as collapsed trachea.

This is a genetic condition where there is a weakness in the trachea rings that can cause trouble breathing.

So, to answer the question: Yes Yorkies are good swimmers.

Are Yorkies Nervous Of Water? (And How Can You Overcome This)

Yes, yorkies (and any dog) can be nervous of water at first. This is perfectly normal, just the way many kids are nervous when they start to learn how to swim.

Just because a dog can naturally swim, doesn’t mean he’s going to like it at first. Some dogs are afraid of the garden hose, some won’t go near a paddling pool and some don’t like taking baths. Dogs see these things in a different way to us, and in my experience, they can often be scared of a bucket of water but have no problem jumping off a pier into a lake!

There are a few ways that you can help your Yorkie to be more relaxed around water.

  1. Bring your Yorkie to a beach or lake where you can introduce him to shallow water. Start by walking along the shore where the water is very shallow and calm. Keep your dog on a lead while you walk up and down parallel to the shore and let him investigate the water at his own pace. Most dogs will be curious and will venture into the water themselves and over time will become more confident.
  2. Use a ball or toy to encourage play in the shallow water. Throwing your dogs favourite ball into that water is a great way to distract him while he gets used to the feeling of the water on his body. Dogs associate liking something with a reward, and a game of fetch with a ball can really help a nervous dog get over his uncertainty around water.
  3. If you don’t live near a beach or lake, a kids paddling pool can be a great introduction to water for your dog. Start off with a small amount of water in the pool, just half an inch of water will do. Again, using a toy, try to encourage your dog into the water by throwing the toy (or treats in). 

How To Teach Your Yorkie To Swim

If your Yorkie is comfortable with water, you should be able to progress onto swimming fairly easily. Swimming comes naturally to most dogs if they are relaxed and comfortable in the water to begin with.

When I’m teaching a dog to swim, I like to put a life vest on the dog just in case he panics or freezes in the water. One of those vests with a handle on the back gives me peace of mind and makes it easy to fish him out quickly if necessary.

Yorkie with life vest
Yorkie learning to swim with a life vest

There are a number of ways to start your Yorkie swimming, it all depends on his age and eagerness in the water.

If you’ve got a young dog that is strong and confident in the water then you can usually start in a swimming pool or shallow, calm body of water like a lake. 

To begin, get into the water yourself holding your dog firmly and gently letting his body into the water. If he is calm let him go and see what happens. Some dogs will just take off, swimming by themselves. Others will need a helping hand to begin with until they get into their stride.

If your Yorkie is not as confident, or not as strong then I’d recommend starting in a shallow swimming pool, or a kiddies swimming pool in your back garden.

You may need to use some treats or a toy to encourage your Yorkie into the pool, but once he gets used to it he should be happy to play in the water without any encouragement. When he has settled into the smaller pool you should be able to move to a larger pool or lake. 

It’s important to watch your dog at all times and don’t force him to do anything her does not want to do. Some Yorkies just don’t like water and they will never get used to it.

Tips For Encouraging Your Yorkie To Swim

  1. Take it slow. Some Yorkies take to the water quicker than others. Some prefer shallow water and will never want to swim in lakes or the sea. Remember, you want to make this into a good experience for them, otherwise you are likely to put them off water for life
  2. Join in and make it fun. If you make a game out of it, then your Yorkie is going to have more fun. He is also more likely to want to be in the water with you, so you getting into the water is a great way to encourage your Yorkie to get in too.

Sources

http://yorkshireterrierguide.com/common-health-problems-yorkies/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_multi_brachycephalic_airway_syndrome

Emer Thomas

Emer has been around dogs all of her life. At a young age, she learned all about caring for dogs from her father, a top Irish breeder. She is now a dog breeder, former champion show dog handler and cup secretary of the Cairn Terrier Association of Ireland. She currently has two dogs, Lady Millie the Border Collie and Alfie the Springer Spaniel. Her interests include dog social training, dog nutrition, and dog metacognitive studies.

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