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Can Havanese Swim? Complete Havanese Swimming Guide

Many Havanese owners want to know whether their little fluffballs can swim. This is a surprisingly popular question when it comes to this breed. So this article is dedicated to everything about Havanese and swimming.


Can Havanese Swim?

You may not pair Havanese with Michael Phelps, but these little powerhouses can actually make great swimmers.

Powerhouses? Yep! Havanese are surprisingly athletic and well-built for their small size, making them physically capable of most exercises including swimming.

However, keep in mind that despite being capable swimmers, it doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

It typically involves some basic swimming lessons which you can give yourself. Which I will cover in great detail below.

Can Havanese Puppies Swim?

Havanese puppies will not know how to swim and they are much more likely to sink than stay afloat.

Puppies don’t really need to be swimming anyway. Puppies get the majority of their exercise from jumping up and going on their mad dashes around your home. And that’s all perfectly fine.

So, to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to forget about swimming until your Havanese reaches around 1 year old. This is when they are considered physically mature and will be much stronger and ready to swim.

Do Havanese Like Swimming?

Most Havanese will absolutely love swimming, so long as they were introduced to water properly and have no bad experiences trying to swim.

Whenever a dog doesn’t like swimming it’s typically down to either not spending enough time around water in general, or they’ve had a bad experience in the past.

  • Swimming is a great form of exercise: It’s fun and exciting, and also very mentally stimulating. So there’s no reason why any dog wouldn’t like that.

But, it’s only fair to say, there will always be exceptions and some dogs just won’t be water dogs. You may have tried everything with your Havanese and you still can’t get them to go anywhere near the water. For some, that’s just how it will be. Not every dog will like to swim.

How To Teach Your Havanese To Swim

There’s no getting around it. The best way to teach your Havanese to swim is in a paddling pool (awesome one from amazon)

You can place a paddling pool in your yard and have total control over the situation. You can make the water as shallow as necessary and raise it up whenever needed. If you are serious about teaching your Havanese to swim, this is a necessary investment.

You must avoid teaching your Havanese how to swim in rivers, lakes, or the ocean. These are unpredictable places with unseen currents and deep zones.

Teaching Your Havanese To Swim Step By Step

Water Level: Up to her belly1-3 days on this stage

1. Start with a paddling pool filled up to no higher than her belly (so very shallow!). The first step is to introduce your Havanese to the paddling pool, a little bit of water, and for her to get used to the sensation of it. Nothing fancy, but very important.

2. She may already resist this stage. If she does, be sure to get in the paddling pool yourself with some toys and treats. Encourage her to play with you which should never be too hard to do with a Havanese. Make this introduction stage as fun as possible. It’s all about building positive associations with water.

Water Level: Up to her neck 1-3 days on this stage

3. Once the belly depth becomes easy, it’s time to bring the water level up to where she can just about stand up, but still can stand up. It would also help if you fit her with her doggy lifejacket at this stage too. This will get her used to wearing the life jacket at the same time.

4. Like before, get in the pool with her and bring toys with you. Leave the treats this time as it’s too dangerous to feed her at this water level. You should see her front legs occasionally start paddling. Doggy paddling is a natural response that doesn’t need to be taught. Even though she can still stand it’s good to see her try to paddle and swim.

5. Stay on this stage for as long as necessary until she becomes comfortable to join you in the paddling pool without a fuss.

Water Level: Out of her depthpractice makes perfect

6. It’s now time to swim properly. With her life jacket on, pick her up, and bring her into the paddling pool with you. She should already be very happy and excited about what’s going on.

7. As you slowly lower her into the pool, you should see all four legs automatically start paddling as she makes contact with the water. Lower her into the pool and lightly hold on to the life jacket, but she should be keeping herself afloat at this point.

8. She will likely be frantically swimming around in circles or staying close to you. That’s ok. Just keep an eye on her back legs to ensure they are working too. If they are not (sometimes the front legs take over) lightly touch her back legs, this should be enough to trigger them to move.

9. Don’t let her swim for more than 15-20 seconds at a time. Let her come to you, or lightly take her weight with the life jacket in order to give her a rest and calm down.

10. Always use your judgment to ensure she is happy and enjoying the swimming. Only keep her in the pool for a few minutes at a time before putting her back on land to rest and recover. Remember that swimming is extremely tiring and dangerous when weak.

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag | 

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Teaching Your Havanese To Swim

Key Points About Teaching Your Havanese to Swim

Life jackets give her a level of safety and assistance so they are a must in the beginning. Doggy life jackets will significantly help her buoyancy and will make swimming easy.

Once a competent swimmer. Be sure to practice swimming WITHOUT a lifejacket. This is for the purpose of her own safety. If she spends years only using a lifejacket, she will have no idea how much more effort is required to keep herself afloat without one.

Keep water lukewarm. Water too hot or too cold will create a negative association and will make her resistant to water in the future (even bath times!).

Keep lessons short, light, and fun. Havanese are really sensitive to their owners so your overall body language and the way you are speaking to her is all very important. It’s crucial for her to enjoy each lesson.

Can Your Havanese Swim In a Swimming Pool?

Unfortunately, this is not a good idea. This is because chlorine is terrible for a dog’s skin. Exposure to chlorine could cause a reaction or dry skin problems (which can potentially turn into much bigger health problems).

If for some reason your swimming pool avoids the use of chlorine or other harsh cleaning chemicals, then by all means it’s a green light for your Havanese to swim around in it.

If you are looking for a place where your Havanese can swim regularly, you can either invest in a smaller pool for your yard which you can fill up with ordinary water.

Or search for a doggy swimming pool center near you. A quick Google search will bring up your nearest results (unfortunately this won’t be available for everyone).

Recommended Products

Life Jacket

Paddling Pool

Last Thoughts

Swimming is enjoyed by the vast majority of Havanese. Despite being small, Havanese actually make pretty good swimmers when they are taught how and practice regularly.

It goes without saying that swimming can obviously be dangerous. You must always be there to assist your Havanese whenever they want to swim. And it’s recommended to avoid swimming in the ocean, rivers, or lakes as it’s just too unpredictable.

Invest in a paddling pool or small swimming pool for your yard where your Havanese can enjoy swimming in a controlled environment.

Always use life jackets in the beginning until she is competent at swimming.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.