The Siberian Husky is a dog breed that many people instantly recognize even if they aren’t dog lovers. These dogs have gotten so popular thanks in part to successful movies that have featured their brave service to people.
This is also one main reason why the Siberian Husky is so popular as a companion canine throughout the United States and the world.
In fact, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Siberian Husky is currently ranked as the 14th most popular purebred pet dog – out of 196 choices!
Siberian Huskies are really fun dogs because they love to stay active and run and play and jump. But what often surprises new Husky owners the most is when their cold-weather dog learns to enjoy a popular summertime activity with them – swimming.
The vast majority of Siberian Huskies love to swim. But there are a few things to keep in mind if you’d like to share your love of swimming with your Siberian Husky dog.
Can Siberian Huskies Swim?
The short answer to this question is “yes.” But the longer answer is “it depends.”
Siberian Huskies are famous for loving snow and cold weather. Whether a Siberian Husky learns to love swimming is going to depend in part on your dog and in part on you.
However, just like any dog, a Siberian Husky puppy should be introduced gently to water and the experience of swimming. It is normal for a puppy to be a bit wary the first time they are introduced to a pool or a body of water.
This is not to say your Siberian Husky will be wary. But just know that most Siberian Huskies learn to enjoy swimming if they are introduced to the experience in a gentle and encouraging way.
Watch Two Adorable Huskies Swimming
This short, heart-warming YouTube video shows how much Siberian Huskies can enjoy swimming. In this video, the Huskies are swimming in a pool with their owner.
It is easy to see how much the dogs love the experience of swimming. But it is equally clear that the owner has given the dogs lots of positive encouragement and is there to supervise and make sure the whole experience is safe for both dogs.
Vital Safety Tips for Swimming With Your Siberian Husky
As Bama Huskies Siberian Husky breeder explains, just because a Siberian Husky is an athletic dog doesn’t mean there is no danger when combining puppies and pools.
The truth is, there are far too many sad stories about puppies that have drowned after falling into a backyard pool.
In a wild setting, a wolf cub would learn from their parents what water is for and how to get into and out of it. Puppies need to learn the same things from their human carers.
It is certainly possible that if your Siberian Husky ended up in the water and didn’t go into an immediate panic that they might figure out how to dog paddle, get to the side and somehow climb out. But you definitely don’t want to count on this!
Instead, we hope you will find the following pool safety tips valuable when introducing your Siberian Husky puppy or rescue dog to water for the first time.
Provide an easy entry and exit point for your dog
If there is one safety tip you want to lock into your brain from the start, it is this: always make sure your dog has an easy way to get into and out of the water.
This applies whether you are swimming together in a human-made pool, a natural pond or lake, a river, the ocean – any body of water.
But it isn’t enough to just provide an easy way into and out of the water. You also want to make double-sure that your Siberian Husky understands where the entry and exit points are and exactly how to use them.
The reason for this is simple: just like a person might panic if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, so too can a Siberian Husky (or any dog) adult dog or puppy panic and end up in danger even when there is an easy way out right nearby.
For the safest experience, start the whole experience of swimming by teaching your puppy or rescue dog exactly how to enter and exit the water using the entry/exit points you have identified.
Only once your dog is familiar with those should you move on to the actual swimming lesson.
Remember that wet fur weighs a lot!
Watching a Siberian Husky run and jump and play on solid ground can give the illusion that these dogs are nearly weightless. They just make the movement look so effortless!
But Siberian Huskies, with their ancient lineage as a working dog breed, have very thick, double-layer coats in adulthood.
As Husky House Siberian Husky Rescue charity explains, the Siberian Husky’s coat consists of two layers, a thick and insulating underlayer, and a water-resistant and protective outer layer.
Together, those two layers represent a massive amount of fur. Most Siberian Husky owners first realize this when their puppy grows up and starts their very first seasonal “coat blow” shed.
But if you want to introduce your Siberian Husky dog to water and swimming, you will want to remember this every time you head for the swimming hole. All that fur weighs a lot even when dry. It weighs much more when it gets wet.
Chlorine isn’t good for dogs
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, chlorine poses an extra risk to dogs even on top of the risks to people.
This is because dogs will not realize they can’t drink the chlorinated pool water if they get thirsty.
This is particularly relevant for thick-coated dogs like Siberian Huskies, since a Sibe dog at the pool in the summer may quickly overheat and seek out drinking water.
There is also the ever-present danger that your dog may get into the supplies area where the chlorine treatments are kept and ingest those as well.
Even freshwater isn’t always good for dogs
If you decide not to go to the pool, but instead you head for a freshwater pond, lake, stream, or river, there is still a risk because there will be bacteria and microorganisms living in the water.
The general rule of thumb here is that moving water (such as a river) is likely going to be safer than still water (such as a pond). This is because the water doesn’t really get stale since there is always a fresh supply of water flowing in.
Even so, it will be safer if you can do your best to keep your Siberian Husky from drinking the water.
Ocean swimming poses its own set of risks
Just in case you have been reading along here and have started to think you will avoid both the pool and freshwater and just head to the ocean with your dog, it is worth mentioning that ocean swimming poses a whole different set of risks.
For starters, there is salty water. Just as your dog won’t comprehend that pool water contains chemical treatments like chlorine, you can’t count on your Sibe to understand how drinking salty water will likely cause stomach irritation and worse.
Social media is full of stories of dogs who gulp down ocean water only to be sick in the car ride home or at home hours later.
Plus, there are undertow currents and tides that could easily overpower a Siberian Husky while they are swimming in the water. Just like you don’t want to go out too far yourself or allow your kids to do so, be sure to keep your dog close to shore.
How to Teach Your Siberian Husky Dog to Swim
In the previous section here we introduced three popular places where Siberian Husky owners often like to take their dogs to learn to swim: the swimming pool, natural freshwater bodies, and the ocean.
Each one has its own special risks and concerns to think through before your first outing.
Because of this, it is smart to pick just one swimming destination where you will teach your dog to swim and to only visit this location until you feel like your dog has really mastered the basics and feels confident and comfortable in the water.
Often a swimming pool is the best place to start (even with the concerns about chlorine) because it is a smaller, contained location where you have a lot more control over your dog’s experience and your ability to teach without too much distraction.
So here are the steps to take to get your Siberian Husky acclimated to the water and starting to learn the art of swimming.
Put a life jacket on your dog
PetMD strongly recommends that you buy a canine version of a life vest or flotation device and have your dog wear this while learning to swim.
This is especially important if you are teaching a Siberian Husky puppy to swim. Puppies are not as strong or coordinated and can easily drown if they get into trouble while swimming.
You want to choose a life vest made specifically for dogs. Don’t try to re-purpose one that is made for people.
Be sure the vest fits properly so that your dog will be protected but can still move freely.
Don’t train your dog how to wear the life vest when you arrive at the pool. Rather, start training your Siberian Husky to wear the life jacket before you go to the pool.
Spend a week or two training your dog on how to put the life jacket on and off before you even consider going to the pool for a swimming lesson. This way, your dog will only have one new challenge to focus on and adjust to at a time.
While some dog breeds have literally been bred to excel at swimming and to love the water, the Siberian Husky is not one of them. Sibes, as you well know, are cold-weather dogs.
These dogs have been bred to run on land, finding a sure footing in even treacherous icy and snowy conditions. The only water they typically encounter is frozen through.
So just because a Siberian Husky is an active, energetic, and naturally athletic dog breed doesn’t mean your dog will take to the water like they are born to it. They aren’t and they will need some encouragement and help from you to figure out what to do.
Get your dog used to water itself
As canine training expert Karen Pryor points out, just as you want to acclimate your dog to the life jacket before heading for the pool, it is smart to acclimate your dog to water itself as well.
Sure, your Siberian Husky understands that the water in their drinking bowl is for consumption. But what will your dog think about a bigger body of water?
How does your dog respond to the garden hose or your child’s kiddie pool?
Once your dog is used to the life jacket, the next step is to get them used to wear the life jacket while getting wet. A kiddie pool comes in particularly handy here as it gives your dog the experience of standing in water while wearing the life vest.
Don’t fill the kiddie pool up all the way. Add an inch or two at first and let your dog explore what that is like before you add more water.
But if all you have available is a bathtub or even a shower or a garden hose, that can work well too.
Use treats and yourself to teach your dog what to do
Different Siberian Huskies may respond better to different incentives when they are learning new skills.
Some dogs may only be willing to try stepping into the water when there is a tasty bobbing hot dog segment they want to eat.
Other dogs may only be willing if you go in first and they follow you.
You will find out what is most motivating to your Sibe by experimenting.
Teach steps as part of learning to swim in the pool
You won’t have steps or ramps if you are swimming in the ocean or a body of fresh water. But at the pool, your dog needs to learn how to use steps.
And first, your Sibe will need to learn what steps are and what they are used for. So before you train in the actual water, you want to train your dog to use the steps to get in and out.
Be Sensitive to Whether Your Siberian Husky Enjoys Swimming
While many Siberian Huskies learn to love swimming, this is not true of every Sibe or every dog.
You will need to be especially sensitive to your dog’s experience if you are trying to train a rescued adult Siberian Husky to enjoy swimming with you. You may not know what trauma has occurred in your dog’s life before you met and how water might factor in.
It is smart to teach your dog what to do around water and how to get in, get out and swim if need be. Even if your dog doesn’t end up loving the water, this is still a good safety lesson to teach.
But if your Siberian Husky panics, it will be much harder (if not impossible) to teach them water safety later on.
So as the Animal Rescue Site wisely points out, you will need to keep close watch over your dog so if they start to panic you can respond quickly.
Warm Your Dog Up Right After Swimming in Cold Water
You may not think that a Siberian Husky could ever get hypothermia (too cold) because this is a dog breed that has lived and worked in cold weather for centuries.
But here, it is vital to remember that Siberian Huskies have worked in snow, not water. Their thick, double-layer coats have evolved to keep water away from the inner insulating coat and the skin.
Water is going to drench your dog right down to the skin. If that water is cold, your dog may well develop hypothermia, especially since a double-layer working-dog coat can take a lot longer to dry out fully.
Here, be sure to take every precaution after your dog gets out of the water to warm them up again. Wrap your dog in a blanket and use your own body heat to warm your Sibe up.
If at any time you see your dog shivering while you are swimming together, this is a signal to exit the water right away.
With these handy tips, you can introduce your Siberian Husky to the joys of swimming.