Can Shar-Peis Swim? Read This First!

Are you thinking of taking your Shar-Pei to the beach or wondering if your pet will join you for a swim in the pool? Before you toy with the idea of taking your Shar-Pei swimming, you might want to consider if your pet can actually swim.

Can Shar-Peis swim? No. Shar-Peis are terrible swimmers because their bodies are not ideal for swimming. Their facial structure and anatomy prevent them from effectively keeping afloat. In addition, their wrinkly skin traps moisture, and unlike other dog breeds, their tiny ears pose a problem. If water gets inside your Shar-Pei’s ear canal, your pet could be at risk of developing a severe ear infection.

Shar-Peis generally shy away from water. They don’t like getting their paws wet, and they are particularly protective of their ears. Perhaps you’ve seen YouTube videos of Shar-Peis swimming, and you’re wondering, “Is that even possible?” or “Can I teach my Shar-Pei to swim?” Before you head out to the pool with your pet, let’s delve a little further into these questions.

can shar peis swim
Can Shar-Peis Swim?

Can I teach my Shar-Pei to swim?

All dogs are born with the instinct to paddle from the moment they hit the water. They’ll instantly kick their feet and raise their heads to stay afloat. However, some dogs must work extra hard to stay afloat (especially when they have a disproportionately larger head, a heavy coat, a short muzzle, short and stubby legs, or a combination of these).

For this reason, they may shun swimming. Some breeders have bred dogs to swim and hunt in water. These dogs have the ideal body and facial structure, as well as coat-type for swimming. The Shar-Pei’s build, on the other hand, puts this dog on the list of dog breeds that are the worst swimmers.

Your Shar-Pei may not see the point of swimming. Shar-Peis can be somewhat stubborn. So, if your dog despises water and is evasive, don’t force your pet to swim. Instead, it’s far better for your Shar-Pei pup to trot in the sand if you’re heading to the beach. However, if your Shar-Pei displays a love for the water, you’re the owner of a one-of-kind Shar-Pei.

Take advantage of this by encouraging your dog to swim, but invest in a life vest. Your dog’s safety should be a top priority. When you purchase a dog floatation device, your Shar-Pei may have a fun experience and not a scary one, especially on a sweltering day. Dry your Shar-Pei thoroughly after swimming or any water encounter.

No moisture should remain inside the folds of your pet’s skin, and your dog’s ears must be kept dry.

My Shar-Pei loves water. Is it an exception to the rule?

Yes! If your Shar-Pei has a positive reaction to water from a young age, your pet may enjoy jumping in water and swimming, even if a thoroughbred. It’s also possible that your dog likes swimming because your pet is a mixed breed. If your dog is a cross between a Shar-Pei and another dog that’s a great swimmer, chances are your pet may enjoy jumping in water, swimming, and splashing around.

You may find yourself confused when you see that your Shar-Pei doesn’t necessarily shun water but gets nervous around your pool. The reason your dog behaves this way is that although Shar-Peis may enjoy splashing in the water, they still want to keep their feet on the ground. So, they may run with you through shallow water, as long as you are present and the water doesn’t cover more than their belly.

Here are some places to let your Shar-Pei play or cool off on a hot day:

  • A kiddies pool
  • A shallow lake
  • A low-tide beach
  • A stream

You should always be present and be concerned about your pet’s safety. Be on the lookout for hazardous debris, broken glass, sharp sticks, and rocks, and don’t lead your dog to dirty or stagnant water.

shar-pei dog swimming
Shar-Pei dog swimming

How should I bathe my Shar-Pei?

It’s essential not to put water on your Shar-Pei’s head. You don’t want to get any water in their ears. Instead, wash with a waterless shampoo and wipe off with a damp cloth. Some Shar-Pei’s ears collect more wax and dirt than others, and you should clean this out before bathing.

Do I have to dry my Shar-Pei after bathing?

Yes. It is crucial to dry this breed after bathing. It would be best to pay special attention to the folds of their skin and wash in between the folds. You can add some powder to the folds of their skin to ensure it dries properly. If you find yourself struggling to bathe your Shar-Pei, instead, get your pet professionally groomed.

Will my Shar-Pei get over his fear of water?

Yes. If you are willing to introduce your dog to water gradually, your dog may get over its fear of water with some care and compassion. First, start with minimal exposure to water. It could be as simple as dipping your fingers in water and letting your Shar-Pei sniff it. If things go calmly, praise your pet.

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.