Do Border Collies Like Water and Swimming? (Yes Or No)

Do Border Collies like water and swimming?

Today, in this guide, youll learn:

  • Wether all Border Collies like or dislike swimming
  • How much you can expect a Border collie to swim
  • Why your dog may be afraid of water

And much more!

border collie sitting by the pool enjoying some sun

When people think about Border Collies, the first thing that comes to mind is their exceptional herding abilities.

So, I made it a mission to find out if these landlubbers can have a coastal soul that will brave the perils of the sea — or a two-foot kiddie pool.

For the most part, well-trained Border Collies can swim for up to 15 to 20 minutes at a time. And like pearl divers, they plunge into deep waters to retrieve objects or rescue drowning humans. Is there anything these dogs cannot do?

On the contrary, collies who got it rough might find it hard to open themselves to the idea that water games and aquatic escapades can be fun. But with the right approach, we can always help our furry pals outgrow their fear of water. In fact, we can even teach them how to swim!

Since summer is fast approaching. If you want your furry sidekick to enjoy the warm weather and pristine waters, it would be wise that you read this article. So, let’s dive in!

What's In This Guide?

      Do Border Collies enjoy Water and Swimming?

      Most Border Collies I know don’t like swimming — they love it to bits!

      However, it is not 100% a breed thing…A small percentage of Border Collies show disinterest in swimming, albeit some of them like to splash around in rain puddles. Funnily enough, there are collies who go frantic at the sight of a bathtub while others are on a mission to become surfers and lifeguards.

      You can’t expect Border Collies to have the same interest or knack for swimming. This holds true, especially when you’ve failed to train your pooch. As with other canine breeds, it all boils down to your dog’s early encounters with water.

      Then again, there can be many reasons why a Border Collie may shy away from deeper waters. Most of the time it is due to the lack of exposure or a scary past experience. Whatever the reason, you should never force a frightened pooch into the water. It is never healthy to force your dog to do something he doesn’t feel comfortable engaging with.

      Are Border Collies Natural Swimmers?

      Pet parents often mistakenly assume that all dogs can swim. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

      You can’t expect your Border Collie to swim like a Labrador or Golden Retriever right off the bat. Decades of selective breeding have given these slubbers the instinctive ability to swim. Before Labs and Goldens popularized bin raiding and counter surfing, they used to retrieve fish and game from icy, cold lakes.

      The Border Collie, on the other hand, was bred to gather, herd, and protect livestock. The herding instinct can be so tremendous that some collies will attempt to “herd” children and smaller pets. To put it simply, swimming is not this breed’s forte.

      Can You Teach A Border Collie How To Swim?

      On the bright side, you can give your Border Collie a life vest and some swimming lessons. Unlike brachycephalic breeds, Border Collies have the facial structure and body type that enable dogs to stay afloat in the water while they doggie paddle.

      As with bathing, you will want to introduce swimming at a young age. Oftentimes, dogs that learn to swim as puppies enjoy swimming throughout their lives. I’ve seen several Border Collies who are adept at swimming.

      I’ve also known for a fact that collies are smart enough to engage in search and rescue parties where they dive in depths of lakes to search drowning victims or corpses. Moreover, these agile canines participate in the competitive sport of dock diving.

      Why Are Some Border Collies Afraid Of Water?

      Bodies of water can be intimidating not just for puppies, but also for adult dogs. The fear of water in Border Collies can take on various forms:

      💦 Loud splashes and crashing waves may trigger a rescued pooch’s residual fears.

      💦 Adults who had traumatic experiences involving water might refuse to take a bath, let alone swim on the beach.

      💦 Also, pets who have never been exposed to water bigger than a bathtub may find a lake overwhelming.

      Fortunately, you can teach a Border Collie to overcome his aversion to water. What’s most important is to introduce water gradually to your fearful pooch. Don’t force it! Just like us, our canine companions can develop negative associations and their bad experiences may only intensify existing fears.

      custom image on why dogs love to swim so much

      How To Teach A Border Collie To Swim

      Teaching puppies to swim can be easier than teaching adult dogs who have a pronounced fear of water.

      Canines who have early traumatic experiences get frenzied reactions, while those who were seldom bathed as puppies may show resistance.

      Regardless, you should ignore the dislike and continue to ease Doggo’s fear by associating water with consistent encouragement and delicious rewards.

      Warm Up Your Border Collie To The Idea

      Choose a time of the day when your puppy or adult dog is most relaxed. Dip your fingers into the water and let him sniff your fingers.

      If your pooch remains calm, you’ll want to run your wet hand over his fur while giving praises.

      If your pet panics, stop right away. Equally important, reward your collie for each desired behavior. You may need to work with these simple exercises for a couple of days before you proceed to the next step.

      📌 Tip: Before anything else, your pup will need a certain level of physical strength before you teach him how to swim. Wait until Pupper is at least three months old, so his/her muscles grow strong enough to avoid injury.

      Pull Together A Kiddie Pool And Waterproof Toys

      Fill a kiddie pool with two or three inches of water. Keep the water shallow. Otherwise, your pet would immediately think he is in peril and go into a panic.

      Any dog would feel unsafe if his paws can’t reach the bottom.

      Likewise, make sure the temperature is comfortably trepid.

      Throw the toys inside the pool for your pooch to play fetch. Offer him praise and a treat each time he hops into the pool.

      Basically, it is a game of fetch with water involved. As soon as your collie starts enjoying the game, you can add in more water.

      Also Read: >> What are the top swimming pools for dogs?

      Bring Your Border Collie To The Beach Or Lake

      Once your pooch has outgrown his kiddie pool, it’s time to go to the beach or lake. You’ll need to give your furry pal enough time to familiarize his new environment.

      Eventually, he will choose to go into the water and investigate.

      When he’s ready to splash away, you can play fetch at the edge of the lake or on the shallow end of the beach.

      Your furry pal may quickly forget about his trepidation in his excitement to play.

      📌 Tip: To stay safe, you need to make sure your Border Collie has completed his shots. Dogs can acquire leptospirosis from contaminated soil and water.

      Get Your Border Collie To Swim

      The best way to coax your dog to swim is to play in the water. It could be a game of tag or Frisbee, which is one thing most Border Collies find difficult to resist.

      First, you’ll want to stand a few feet away from the edge of the lake and have your pooch approach you. If your dog has yet to perfect his recall skills, you’ll want to put him on a retractable leash to be safe.

      Reward Doggo with high-value treats each time he approaches you.

      Then position yourself a little farther away. Once again, reach out to your pooch with goodies in your hand, convincing him to enter the water. Eventually, he will start doing the doggie paddle. Keep rewarding him no matter how small.

      As soon as he feels comfortable being in the water, you can proceed to play a game of tag or fetch. Getting your dog into the water in this fashion gives him a blast.

      📌 Tip: It is always a wise idea to have your dog wear a floatation device. Most importantly, don’t feel anxious during the training. Dogs can sense their owners, causing them to react the same.

      Read Also : >> Just how much exercise is the right amount for a Border Collie?

      How Do Border Collies Benefit From Swimming?

      Swimming is a fun activity that helps keep Border Collies hale and hearty. It increases muscle mass while it strengthens the muscles that support the hips. And as with humans, it is a fantastic cardiovascular workout for dogs.

      Vets, moreover, recommend swimming to promote faster healing in dogs recovering from surgery. Since it is a low-impact exercise, it doesn’t add pressure to the joints. Thus, regular swimming sessions also help delay the onset of arthritis.

      If you have a backyard pool, your pooch can jump into the water to cool himself. Swimming is a fantastic way to burn off the seemingly unending energy reserves of Border Collies and keep their mental health in check.

      Seriously, you don’t want these intelligent canines to get bored, as they can be as destructive as the Tazmanian devil!


      Border Collies aren’t the best swimmers in the canine universe. I’ll give that title to the retrievers of the North Atlantic.

      However, these landlubbers aren’t that bad. Like greedy pirates, they can plunder pools and beaches for precious toys and doggie loot.

      Now if that sounds like your collie, then that’s good news! The health benefits of swimming extend to our canine companions, as well.

      But if your Border Collie prefers to stick to land sports, then you might as well leave him be and focus on the activities loves the most.

      Picture of Rachael Summers

      Rachael Summers

      Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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