Vizsla Training

Do Vizslas Like To Swim?

Written By: Rachel

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Do vizslas like to swim? Do vizslas like water? These are common questions for future and existing vizsla owners.

The quick answer is that overall, yes, vizslas do like to swim. But not surprisingly there is more to know if you want your vizsla to love the water.

So before you take your vizsla swimming, read on to find out whether all vizslas can swim, how to teach vizslas to swim and important swimming tips to keep your vizsla safe in the water.

This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.


Do Vizslas Like To Swim?

Yes, many vizslas like to swim. Hungarian vizslas were bred as a versatile hunting dog that can hunt, point and retrieve on both land and in water.

They may not be as natural as waterdogs like labradors or spaniels, but vizslas are nonetheless strong swimmers and can be taught to swim in all types of water bodies including rivers, lakes, pools and the ocean.

Whether or not your vizsla likes to swim will depend a lot on how they are introduced to water and whether they have positive experiences.

So if you have a vizsla puppy or an adult vizsla who doesn’t like the water, read on to find out how to teach vizslas to enjoy swimming.

Is Swimming Good For Vizslas?

Yes swimming is good for vizslas. It is a great low impact exercise that helps build muscle strength and works their respiratory system. It is also a great way for vizsla dogs to cool down on a hot day.

Swimming is suitable for vizslas of all ages but is particularly helpful for older vizslas. Swimming helps them stay fit without putting too much stress on their joints and limbs.

It is also good for vizslas recovering from injuries that prevent them going on long walks or runs.

Do Vizslas Like Water Year Round?

Many vizslas like water play any time of year and once they become proficient swimmers it can be hard to keep them out of the water.

However some vizslas don’t like the cold and will only swim in the warmer months when the water isn’t so cold.

Group of Hungarian vizsla dogs leaping into river from timber platform.

At What Age Can Vizslas Start Swimming

It is good to introduce vizslas to water from an early age, but there are some considerations.

  • Your vizsla should be fully vaccinated before taking them swimming in open water bodies to ensure they are protected against all the common dog viruses.

Until they reach that age, you can train you vizsla puppy at home.

You should also be confident they know their name and their recall is good before letting them swim freely.

How To Teach A Vizsla To Swim

Vizslas are a sensitive dog breed and fun first experiences in water are so important to develop their confidence and enjoyment when swimming.

Outlined below are helpful steps for teaching vizslas to swim in a positive way.

Start Early

Introduce your vizsla puppy to water at home in the first few weeks. It is a great way to ease them in to swimming later.

Put a small amount of lukewarm water in a baby pool or wide bucket and play games with your puppy in the water.

If you bring puppy home in Winter, use a bath inside with warm water.

Be wary when using hoses as the cold water and fast and erratic movement of the water is not always enjoyable for puppies.

vizsla puppy playing with ball in red bucket filled with water.

Find Gradual Sloping Entry Points

Once your vizsla is fully immunized and ready to explore, find small creeks, a wave-free beach or pool with a gradual entry point into the water.

This allows your pup to get their feet wet without having to swim. Take a ball or a toy to play and make it fun!

A good option for adult dogs is a dog swimming pool facility – look in your local area for a dedicated dog pool or a kennel with a pool that offers day visits.

Introduce Retrieving

Vizslas are natural retrievers so a good way of gradually encourage your vizsla to swim is by throwing a ball or stick into the water.

Start by throwing the ball just in front of where they are standing and gradually stretch the distance you throw it out.

Do short sessions, take it slow and steady and before long they may have the confidence to take the plunge to swim out of their depth.

Many vizslas will only swim if they are retrieving something – so always have a ball, dummy or sticks on the ready when you go swimming with a vizsla.

Important! Don’t take your favorite ball unless you are prepared to get in yourself as they may decide not to retrieve it when out of their depth.

Be Encouraging

Staying positive and keeping it fun are essential training tips for vizslas.

Once your vizsla takes the plunge (so to speak) and is swimming out of their depth, you may be horrified by their initial swimming style!

At first many vizslas paddle with just their front legs, and it looks like someone turned the washing machine on!

But don’t worry, they gradually learn to use their back legs to swim more smoothly. Retrieving a stick or ball can help with this, as they tend to keep their heads lower when retrieving and their back legs more naturally start moving.

Praise your dog when they come back to shore. Also know when your dog has had enough or is getting cold.

Find Some Waterdog Friends

A good way to encourage your vizsla to swim is to meet up with other more proficient doggie swimmers at locations where your vizsla has shown interest in swimming.

Most vizslas love to play and get a serious case of FOMO when not involved.

When they see their friends swimming it may be just what they need to get them to take that step into the deeper water.

Go To Different Types Of Water Bodies

If you are lucky enough to live near different types of water bodies, take your vizsla to all of them to work out what they like.

Try creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, the beach and pools.

Many dogs don’t like to leap into the water from above, but are quite happy to wade in from the riverbank.

Some find the sand and sound of the waves at the beach too overwhelming and prefer lakes.

Some vizslas love swimming but only in the pool.

Some dogs only like certain types of swim locations so don’t give up if your first choice isn’t successful.

What To Do If You Have A Reluctant Swimmer

While most vizslas can swim, many vizsla owners will tell you their pup doesn’t like to swim.

Each vizsla has a unique personality and while some will love the water from day one others may need a little longer to warm up to it.

If you really want your vizsla to like swimming here are some tips to help:

  • Take your swim training right back to the start and introduce positive water experiences gradually.
  • Get in the water with them to play as they often need a purpose to get out swimming.
  • Also consider using a pet life jacket to provide more buoyancy (and warmth) to see if that helps them enjoy the water more.

If nothing works it may just be that your vizsla isn’t into swimming..

vizsla puppy on lead standing in shallow creek.

Vizsla Swimming Tips

Ready to take your vizsla swimming? Here are some tips for safe swimming with both new and experienced swimmers.

Keep Them on A Lead When Young

Until you are confident with recall and their swim ability, keep your vizsla on a long lead in the water.

This ensures you can help them if they get distracted, drift too far away from shore or they start to panic.

Take It Slow

Whatever you do don’t force them into the water and don’t drop them straight in out of their depth.

Their first experiences will likely shape their views on whether the water is a fun place to be. By all means encourage them, but don’t rush them.

Check The Water Quality

Before swimming in rivers or lakes, it is really important to know if the water is safe for swimming.

Algal blooms, bacteria and toxins can be present in water any time of year and are dangerous to dogs.

Higher risk times include the warmer months when water levels are lower and water temperatures increase, after periods of heavy rain, and in built up areas.

If you are unsure, check the water quality with your local authority.

Check For Hidden Risks

Always check the swim area for submerged rocks, branches and debris that may injure your dog.

Avoid swimming in rivers or at beaches with strong currents and/or rips. They can tire your dog quickly and can be unpredictable.

Avoid Drinking Salt Water

If you take your vizsla swimming at the beach, try to prevent your dog drinking the salt water.

This can be difficult with young puppies, who seem to be obsessed with drinking it!

Unfortunately many will learn their lesson the hard way – as ingesting too much salty water can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Wet Hungarian vizsla running out of waves at beach.

Safety First

Invest in a dog lifejacket if you plan to take your vizsla on a boat, stand up paddle board or offshore in large bodies of water.

Despite their strong swimming ability, an unexpected event or very cold water can tire your vizsla quicker than you think.

Carry A Towel

Always carry a towel and fresh drinking water for your pup when swimming.

Vizslas get cold easily thanks to their thin single coat, and a quick rub down when they get out of the water is the best way to warm them up.

A bottle of fresh water is essential too – swimming is thirsty work and you don’t want them drinking ocean or river water.

Dry Ears Well

Those gorgeous floppy vizsla ears can be troublesome if frequently wet as they prevent water escaping and the ears drying out properly.

Constantly wet ears can lead to nasty ear infections – so always dry their ears inside and out after swimming.

More Vizsla Training Guides

If you enjoyed learning about whether vizslas can swim, you may also like:

Or, browse all the vizsla training guides here.

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About Rachel

Founder of It's a Vizsla, Rachel is a vizsla owner who loves to research and share practical tips to help other vizsla owners care for their fur babies. She loves getting outdoors and hanging out with her vizsla, Lottie.