Do Shelties Like Water And Can They Swim? (Solved!)

The Shetland Sheepdog is also known as Sheltie. This breed inherited from the Collies its intelligence and agility, characteristics that highlight its fame.

In addition, the herding instinct makes it a working dog that needs to be busy so as not to become crazy and destructive.

Today a Sheltie is also an excellent family member and a canine sports superstar, which sometimes provokes the question:

Do Shelties Like Water?

Stay with me until the end to find out why your Sheltie may or may not be fascinated by water in all aspects.


Do Shelties Like Water?

Most Shelties like water and seek to cool off in it whenever they can, especially when it’s hot. However, some owners claim to have Shelties that do not like water.

I invite the latter never to force their Shelties to enter the water because that would simply end up scaring them and creating a feeling of rejection towards the water.

This will hinder the maintenance or grooming of the animal which you need to do with some frequency.

That said, I always suggest being careful when your Shelties are near any place of denser watercourses and specific danger to the animal.

Due to its restlessness, the dog may decide to jump in and then need help because it cannot independently get out of the water.

In any case, since they would not mind splashing around once in a while, to avoid damages to the skin when they get wet, it is essential to dry the coat well to the Sheltie’s skin, even using a hairdryer.

Can Shelties Swim?

Yes, they can. Although all Shelties can instinctively swim, only some Shetland Sheepdogs like to swim.

Especially in hot weather, although they tend to go into the water whenever they can.

If you are one of the owners who say that their Shelties hate water, I inform you that there is good news about it if you do not know yet.

It turns out that with training and positive encouragement, Shelties may be able to swim like “ducks.”

If you want your furball to become a real aquatic Sheltie, then I encourage you to take it upon yourself to encourage many positive swimming experiences right from the start gently.

With that new attitude, you will stop being one of those Sheltie owners who often say that their dogs hate water. You will become one of those who brag that their Shelties love water.

Encourage it to take a refreshing dip on a hot summer day.

Enjoy with your dog teaching it to do gentle exercise in the water at a low altitude that does not put excessive pressure on the joints.

My experience leads me to tell you that your Sheltie is worth teaching how to swim.

How To Teach A Sheltie To Swim?

In Its Initial Stage, As A Puppy.

As with human behavior, in dogs, the attitude towards water is determined by the environment in which it grows.

For example, frequent exposure to water that stimulates their genes/instincts, that is, in their aversion to risk or natural confidence.

Depending on how the above described occurs, at first, rivers, lakes, and the ocean can be strange and scary for a Sheltie puppy.

So if you want your Sheltie puppy to overcome that instinctive fear, familiarize him with water in its early stages.

Just as you teach a puppy to socialize, if you want your Sheltie to become a real water dog, you must do it when it is still young.

If you are wondering:

Why should you encourage your Sheltie to like water?

I must tell you to begin with that swimming is one of the activities that generate the most benefits for your Sheltie, such as:

  • It is the natural way to make your dog drain its energy load.
  • It is an excellent activity to keep your sheepdog fit, especially if it tends to get lazy, is overweight, or resists running.

It’s a great positive experience that you can give it as a puppy, so it doesn’t have the stress of being afraid of water for its entire life.

Remember, teaching your Sheltie to swim is gradual desensitization. Please don’t make the mistake of literally throwing it in the water.

You will only give it a frightening experience and run the risk of developing a water phobia that will either ruin or make it uphill for it to learn to swim.

Follow the steps below to the letter:

1. Initiation

Take your Sheltie puppy to the ocean and have fun running with it to shore, intermittently running through spaces where the water covers up to your ankles.

Encourage it to follow you if it doesn’t, please don’t force it!

When your dog notices that water is not a threat to it, you will observe how courage will go “in crescendo,” and it will begin to walk with you through the puddles that reach the upper part of its legs.

Encourage it when it does!

2. Confidence Building

Then, if the beach is safe for swimming and has hardly any waves, continue taking it to that beach and start walking where the water covers your ankles a little more.

Your dog may whine and try to get your attention. Stay firm, wait a few minutes, encouraging it to follow you.

Its instincts will arm it with courage and will follow you.

Remember that dogs, by instinct and compulsion, follow their pack almost anywhere to avoid being left behind.

Just make sure that at no time does it walk through space with an excessive amount of water.

In case your Sheltie shows signs of panicking, you should slow down the desensitization process.

3. Go Deeper

Finally, when you get the water just under your Sheltie puppy’s chin, and it can’t walk anymore, lift it a few inches.

Hold it like this until you see it instinctively start to paddle with its paws in the air.

Then remove it from the water. Your dog will likely surprise you in that first experience, run into the water, and start swimming independently. It will be a fantastic sight.

You may be wondering, who knew my Sheltie had a built-in instinct for doggy paddling?


There is a chance that some Shelties will never bravely venture into the ocean like a Labrador.

The important thing is that you will give your dog a fighting chance by teaching him to swim from 4 to 6 months of age.

Of course, there are security issues you need to consider.

Remember that Shelties have thick/dense fur, and small or weak ones can run the risk of being dragged by the weight that the water puts on their coat, so be sure to supervise all the aquatic adventures that you undertake with your Sheltie.

To the best of your ability, have a handy Sheltie life preserver on standby.

It’s important to teach your Sheltie puppy to swim in different water scenarios to help it overcome its fear and build its confidence.

In Its Adulthood Stage

The process of teaching adult Shelties to swim is pretty much the same as for puppies. The key is to subject them to gradual, positive exposure to water.

However, it may take longer for your adult dog to learn to swim.

The best time to encourage your Sheltie to break that instinctive fear and take a dip in the water is on a hot summer day.

These animals are hot and need to cool down. Those summer days are ideal, as they will be more open to the water.

Please take it to a river, lake, or ocean beach of your choice.

The first time you take your Sheltie for a swim, you may be surprised, and it boldly jumps and dive completely.

You may see your Sheltie’s rowing instinct flourish. Give yourself a chance for that possible great start.

Some Tips for When Taking Your Sheltie Swimming

If your Sheltie is not yet an experienced swimmer, I suggest taking the following additional precautions when near a mass of water:

Do Not Trust

Be careful when you take it to the river, a beach, a lake, or next to a pool.

Any mass of water, however calm it may seem, represents a danger for your dog if it can’t swim.

Security And Control

For your peace, it is easier to keep your dog safe in a controlled environment, such as a backyard pool.

Keep in mind that if your dog is not an expert swimmer, he will require supervision.

Supervision And Restriction

If you have a pool in your home, in addition to supervision, consider putting a fence around it or restricting access as an added security measure.

Give It An Option To Get Out

You can also add stairs or ramps to the pool so that if the dog overcomes its fence and falls into it, it has the option of going out on its own.

Be Patient And Let Them Decide

Remember not to force your dog into the water. Make sure it enters the water on its own, being comfortable doing so.

Encourage it with treats and toys to lure it into the water. In any case, it is better to be patient and let them decide.

Reserving Energy In Your Dog Is Essential

Swimming requires a lot of energy, so your dog needs to have enough energy to stay afloat and move from point to point.

Never take them for a long walk beforehand. Don’t let them go in the water when they are tired, either.

Consider Learning Canine First Aid

If an emergency ever occurs, the knowledge you gain will give you the confidence to act quickly.

Benefits Of Swimming For Shelties

As is known, swimming is one of the most beneficial and fantastic activities that exist for the health of your dog.

It is one of the sports activities that most demands the use of all the muscles of the mammalian body.

Regularly practicing sports such as swimming helps to take care of the muscles and prevents the deterioration of the tissues, which ultimately leads to their strength.

Did you know that the benefits of swimming for humans also apply to dogs?

Just one minute of swimming has the same benefits as four minutes of running for your dog.

That is, when your Sheltie swims, it burns more calories than taking him for a walk or playing fetch.

Here are some benefits of swimming for your Sheltie:

  • Improves general health, increases metabolism.
  • Relieves stress, relieves the dog’s energy level.
  • Excellent for the cardiovascular system strengthens the heart.
  • Improves circulation, which helps keep Sheltie’s fur and skin healthy.
  • Good for the lungs and joints.
  • Pain relief, decreases inflammation.
  • Weight control, burn more calories.

Remember, swimming is the natural choice for exercising and regulating your Sheltie’s health.

If you want your dog to highlight his excellent bearing, you should definitely get it to awaken that instinct, if it hasn’t already, and go swimming.

Once your pet adopts swimming as a regular habit, there will be and maintain a significant improvement in his health over time!


Regarding the question: Do shelties like water?

Technically or genetically speaking, all dogs can swim, but in general, Sheltie Sheepdogs do not like water that much, so they are not known as good swimmers compared to other similar breeds.

The coat of this breed is dense/heavy, and in the water, it weighs a lot more, which tires your dog quickly. This may impact the uncertainty as to whether or not the Sheltie Sheepdog is a safe swimmer.

If you own a Sheltie and want to enjoy watching it swim, invest a good deal of your time in training and safe exposure from an early age.

However, there is a chance that some Shelties may never become confident in the water, even after a process of gradual desensitization to fear.

Either way, it is essential to persevere in closely supervising and developing confidence in your dog.

Keep in mind that it is up to you, as the owner, to do everything you can to support them in learning to swim. If you allow your furry faithful friend to swim, you must be able and willing to jump in and save it.

Remember, swimming is a gentle way to exercise your Sheltie to help it drain energy and not put too much stress on its joints.

So, if your dog shows interest, and you are willing and able to help it develop and consolidate your confidence in it, believe me, it is worth the effort, perseverance, and time.

So, if the answer to the question, “Do shelties like to swim,” motivates you to join the adventure, good for your Sheltie!

Fortunately, there are many places you can take it swimming that are generally safer and will keep it happy and in control.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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