Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater?

Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater? Many people believe that dogs are scared of water and cannot swim at all. However, in reality, most dogs are not afraid of the water and are excellent in water activities. Holding the breath is the most important thing required in water activities.

Generally, it is believed that dogs are excellent at holding their breath underwater. As compared to humans, dogs have larger lungs, which allow them to keep on breathing underwater longer than humans.

What I Will Learn?

Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater?

Dog owners, who are thinking of involving their dogs in water sports often tend to question “Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater?” Well, if you too are among such people then this article is for you, as it aims to provide a detailed answer to this question.

Can All Dogs Swim?

Although all dogs can learn to swim if taught properly, not all breeds are excellent swimmers.

Canine breeds that have a long nose and short legs like Pugs, Bulldogs, etc – find it very difficult to swim as their body structure makes it hard for them. Large Dogs also find it difficult to swim and they can even drown if not handled properly. Newfoundland dogs, Portuguese Waterdog, and other such breeds are specially designed for water activities and can hold their breath easily.

Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater Comfortably?

Yes, dogs can hold their breath underwater. A dog’s body works in such a way that when it comes in contact with water, the blood vessels in its nose and mouth expand allowing more oxygen to enter its lungs from the water molecules present in the water. So when a dog is holding breath underwater, it can take oxygen from the surrounding water and this allows them to stay underwater for a longer duration than humans.

However, some dogs are not able to hold their breath underwater comfortably and they need to come to the surface for air every few seconds. The ability to hold breath underwater varies from breed to breed as some breeds can hold breath underwater for a longer time as compared to others.

How Long Can Dogs Hold Breath Underwater?

In general, an average dog can hold its breath underwater for a minimum of 30 sec and a maximum of 1 minute. However, there are some exceptional cases where dogs have been able to hold their breath underwater for more than 2 minutes.

The breeds having very strong muscles, lungs and heart can naturally be excellent swimmers and they can also hold their breath underwater for a longer duration. However, it is not advised to allow the dog to hold its breath underwater for too long as it causes him health problems.

How To Train A Dog To Hold Breath Underwater?

There are many ways to teach your dog to hold breath underwater. The step to step procedure for teaching your dog to hold breath underwater is given below:

Step 1: Train the dog to float

If you see your dog struggling in the water, then first teach him how to float. Many dogs, especially the small breeds, learn to float on their own.

Step 2: Teach The Dog To Push Its Head Underwater

Hold your dog’s favorite treat just beneath the surface of the water and allow him/her to reach for it with his mouth. Repeat this step several times so that the dog gets used to pushing its head underwater.

Step 3: Allow Your Dog To Push His/hers Face Into The Water And Hold For Few Seconds

Once he learns about pushing his head into the water, now gradually increase the amount of time for which you allow your dog to hold his/her face in the water.

Step 4: Allow The Head And Neck To Submerge Into The Water

Once your dog gets used to pushing its nose into the water at every attempt, now gradually allow him/her to push their neck into the water. Only allow them to do it once they can hold their breath for at least 10 seconds.

Step 5: Allow The Body Of The Dog To Submerge Into The Water

Once your dog is comfortable with pushing its head, neck, and face underwater, now you can allow him/her to push his/her entire body underwater.

Step 6: Hold The Dog Under Water And Allow Him/Her To Hold Breath Underwater For At Least 30 Seconds

In this step, you just have to hold your dog underwater and allow him/her to hold breath for at least 30 seconds. This is the final step in teaching your dog to hold breath underwater for a longer duration.

When holding the dog underwater, use a life jacket or a tight leash so that there can be no complications in holding the dog underwater. To ensure that your dog is comfortable with swimming, it is advised to practice all the above steps slowly and do not forget to reward the dog after every successful attempt.

What To Do If The Dog Is Scared Of Water?

If your dog is scared of water, then you need to gradually desensitize the dog to the water. You can do it by:

  1. Rewarding your dog for getting near the water
  2. Using sprinklers to make the dog comfortable with water
  3. Touching the dog’s paw with water at first
  4. Ensure that you are supervising your pet while he is underwater
  5. Use a life jacket, whenever the dog is underwater


Now we hope that everyone knows the answer to can dogs hold their breath underwater? It can be said that dogs are able to swim and are capable of holding their breath for a longer duration while they are searching/chasing the prey underwater. However, dogs can hold their breath underwater only if they are healthy and have good muscles and lungs.


Is it bad for dogs to go underwater?

If your dog is healthy and can naturally hold its breath under the water, then it will not be harmful to him to go underwater. However, if your pet dog has any breathing disorder or heart disease, then it may be bad for him to go underwater.

Can dog put their head underwater?

Yes, dogs are capable of putting their head underwater to search or chase the prey.

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