Can A Bichon Frise Swim? – The Definitive Answer

Swimming is a great form of low impact exercise that most dogs can enjoy. Plus, it’s a great way to cool off on a hot day.

Before you try swimming with your Bichon, you might be wondering if a Bichon Frise can swim. This is important to know so you can ensure their safety when swimming.

A Bichon Frise can swim with enough practice. They are descended from the Barbet (a water spaniel) and they traveled onboard sailing ships throughout their history so they are no strangers to water.

Now that we’ve answered the question can a Bichon Frise swim, we can examine if a Bichon Frise actually likes water.

We’ll also cover the benefits of teaching your Bichon Frise to swim and how to teach them to swim safely.

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Do Bichon Frises Like Water?

So, we’ve established that Bichon Frises can swim. With that being said, it’s another question whether they like water or not. This is important to know if you’re considering teaching your Bichon Frise to swim.

I can’t speak for every Bichon Frise out there, but in my experience, Bichon Frises don’t like water that much. They will swim given enough time and practice but they won’t jump into a pool without a little incentive.

This is an important point to note. While Bichons don’t love water as such, they can still benefit from learning how to swim.

Are Bichon Frises Water Dogs?

We mentioned in the introduction of this article that Bichons can swim because of their history and the fact they are descended from an old water spaniel.

Let’s look at this in a bit more detail to clarify what this means.

The original Bichon breed type traveled onboard sailing ships and traveled from port to port. This breed type is descended from the Barbet which was an old water spaniel, and the Poodle.

The original Bichon breed type eventually split into 4 distinct dog breeds that we see today:

  1. Bichon Frise
  2. Maltese
  3. Bolognese
  4. Havanese

As these new distinct breeds began to develop, their uses changed from sailing dogs to lap dogs for example.

Now that we’ve taken a short history lesson on the Bichon Frise, let’s come back to the classification of the Bichon Frise as a water dog.

The Bichon Frise dogs that we see today are not classed as water dogs. In the United States, the Bichon Frise falls under the Non-Sporting group of dog breeds. In The United Kingdom, the Bichon Frise is a member of the Toy Dog Group.

If you enjoyed reading about the history of the Bichon Frise, I talk about this in more detail in this great article:

Bichon Frise – Everything You Need To Know

5 Benefits Of Teaching Your Bichon Frise To Swim

Just like with humans, swimming is also beneficial for dogs.

With that being said, let’s now look at all of the benefits of teaching your Bichon Frise to swim.

1 Great form of exercise

The most obvious benefit of swimming for your dog is that it’s an excellent form of exercise.

The resistance of the water when swimming requires more work than running or walking. It is estimated that 1 minute of swimming is the equivalent of 4 minutes of running.

When swimming, your dog will be using all of their muscles and over time, this will improve muscle strength, circulation, and metabolism.

2 Low impact on joints

The best benefit of teaching your dog to swim is that swimming is a low impact form of exercise.

This means that in the water, there is much less weight placed on your dog’s muscles and joints.

The water supports your dog’s body so they can move their legs around to swim without putting stress on their joints.

3 Beneficial for older Bichons

The low impact form of exercise swimming provides is excellent for older Bichons.

Older Bichons are more at risk of suffering from joint pains, arthritis, or hip dysplasia. This means that their ability to exercise is severely reduced.

Swimming offers a great way for older Bichons to exercise without putting a strain on their joints.

4 Good for recovery after surgery or injury

Hydrotherapy is an effective treatment for humans to recover from injury. The same is also true for dogs.

Swimming in warm water especially can aid in circulation and strengthens muscles and joints.

As we’ve mentioned already, the low impact nature of swimming allows for easy exercise without the risk of injury.

Hydrotherapy centers that cater solely for dogs can be found almost everywhere and are very popular.

This is something worth considering if you have an older or injured dog.

5 Great stress relief

Not only is swimming a great form of physical exercise, but it is also an excellent form of mental stimulation for your dog.

All dogs require not only physical but mental stimulation every day to ensure they are happy and not bored.

Swimming is an easy way to achieve mental stimulation as it’s a great form of play and fun that differs from regular play.

can a Bichon Frise swim?

Teaching Your Bichon Frise To Swim

Now that we’ve talked about all of the benefits of swimming for your Bichon Frise, let’s get into teaching your Bichon Frise to swim.

To teach your Bichon Frise to swim, it’s a good idea to consider these best practices to make sure you are keeping your Bichon safe and happy.

1 Ensure you have the right equipment

The first thing to look at before you begin teaching your Bichon to swim is the equipment you have.

It is highly recommended that your dog wear a canine life vest whenever they go swimming.

This might not be necessary if your dog is a competent swimmer but smaller dogs especially should wear them so they can stay afloat.

As well as a canine life vest, it’s also a good idea to have a long leash to hand if you’re swimming in a lake or a creek. This will ensure you can keep your dog near you so they don’t get into difficulty near strong currents of water.

Finally, ensure you have a bowl of fresh water nearby during breaks.

2 Start very gradually

As with teaching your dog any new skill, it’s highly important to start slowly and build up gradually.

The same is true in teaching them to swim.

Start by getting your dog used to their canine life vest.

Next, get them used to being near the water and then getting their paws wet.

Be sure to reward your dog with lots of praise and affection for doing well.

Over time, your dog will become used to the water and start to swim.

3 Be patient and take breaks often

Patience is highly important with any form of dog training and learning to swim is no exception.

Your dog may not immediately like being near water at first. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t force your dog to jump in and start swimming.

Over time, with patience and lots of praise, your dog will learn to like swimming and all the benefits it provides.

As well as patience, regular breaks are highly important to ensure your dog doesn’t become overtired.

4 Never leave your dog unsupervised

It’s a good idea to always supervise your dog whenever they are near or in water.

That way you can be nearby if they get into difficulty.

Now that we’ve covered these training best practices, the great video below outlines how you can teach your dog to swim.

How To Be Safe Around Water With My Bichon Frise

Water safety is as important for dogs as it is for humans. With that in mind, let’s review some water safety tips to adhere to when swimming with your Bichon Frise.

1 Canine life vests

Canine life vests add some extra buoyancy when your dog swims. They may also have a harness that you can grab onto at any point to help your dog if they get into difficulty.

These canine life vests come in all shapes and sizes based on all dog breeds.

It’s always a good idea to have your dog wear a canine life vest whenever they are in or near water to ensure they can be kept safe.

2 Use a leash

If you are swimming in a large body of water with your dog, a leash may be a very useful piece of equipment to have on hand.

A long leash attached to your dog will still allow them the freedom to swim around but will also help you to grab hold of them if they get into any difficulty.

3 Identify exit points

When teaching your dog to swim, or whenever they are in the water, it’s important to show them how to get out of the water.

Swimming pools will have steps that can be used for example.

It’s a good idea to practice getting in and out of the water with your dog frequently to ensure they can get out and stop swimming when they’re tired.

4 Ensure your dog doesn’t become overtired

It can be easy for your dog to swim until they become overtired and can’t swim anymore.

With that in mind, keep an eye on your dog at all times when they are swimming to look for signs that they are becoming tired.

If you notice they are becoming tired, take a 15 minute break from swimming or call it a day and go again tomorrow.

5 Take plenty of breaks

Regular breaks from swimming are essential to prevent your dog from becoming overtired and getting into difficulty.

During breaks, it’s a good idea to give them plenty of water to drink to ensure they stay hydrated.

Bichon Frise Swimming Tips

Now that we’ve talked about water safety for your Bichon Frise, let’s take a look at some more general Bichon Frise swimming tips.

1 Find safe places to swim

You might be wondering just where your Bichon Frise can swim.

There are actually more places than you think. A local pond or creek, dog-friendly pools, hydrotherapy centers for dogs, or even a backyard pool are all great places for your Bichon Frise to swim.

2 Have drinking water on hand during breaks

As you’re ensuring your dog takes regular breaks from swimming, give them plenty of drinking water.

This will keep them hydrated and prevent them from drinking unsafe water elsewhere.

3 Rinse your dog off after their swim

A super important tip for after swimming is to rinse your dog off with clean water.

Be sure to clean their face properly to avoid any skin or eye irritation as well as potential coat discoloration.


If you’ve made it to the end of the article, thanks for reading!

Let’s summarize what we talked about before we finish:

  • First, we answered the question: can a Bichon Frise swim?
  • Next, we answered the question: do Bichon Frises like water?
  • After that, we looked at if Bichon Frises are actually water dogs.
  • Next, we talked about the 5 benefits of teaching your Bichon Frise swimming
  • Next, we looked at the best practices for teaching your Bichon Frise swimming
  • Following that, we covered some tips for being safe around the water with your Bichon Frise
  • Finally, we covered some more Bichon Frise swimming tips

I hope you found some useful information from reading this article. If you did, please consider sharing it on social media. It will help other dog owners like you to find it.

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this article on Bichon Frise swimming, you might like to read these articles next: