Why Can’t Bulldogs Swim? 5 Top Reasons Why & Best 10 Life Vests

By: Mo


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Why can’t Bulldogs swim? is a common question among pet owners and dog lovers. Bulldogs are known for their wrinkly faces, stocky build, and lovable personalities, but they are not natural swimmers.

In fact, Bulldogs have several physical characteristics that make it difficult for them to swim, including their short snouts, heavy heads, and dense bodies. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Bulldogs struggle in the water and offer tips for keeping them safe around pools, lakes, and other bodies of water.

Bulldogs are not built for swimming. Their short snouts, also known as brachycephalic skulls, make it difficult for them to breathe while swimming.

Bulldogs have a tendency to tilt their heads back to keep their noses above the water, which can cause them to lose their balance and struggle to stay afloat.

Additionally, Bulldogs have heavy heads and dense bodies, which make it difficult for them to move through the water. They are also prone to overheating, which can lead to exhaustion and even heatstroke.

Key Takeaways

  1. Body Structure: Bulldogs have a unique body structure that makes it difficult for them to swim. Their short legs, broad chests, and heavy heads make it challenging for them to stay afloat and move efficiently in the water.
  2. Breathing Difficulties: Bulldogs are also prone to breathing difficulties due to their short snouts and narrow airways. This can make it even more challenging for them to swim and stay afloat, as they may struggle to breathe properly while in the water.
  3. Risk of Drowning: Bulldogs are at a higher risk of drowning than other breeds due to their physical limitations in the water. It’s important to supervise Bulldogs closely around water and provide them with a life jacket if they are going to be near a pool or other body of water.

To keep Bulldogs safe around water, it’s important to supervise them at all times and provide them with a life jacket. You should also avoid taking them to deep or fast-moving water, as they may panic and become overwhelmed. If your Bulldog does accidentally fall into the water, try to stay calm and encourage them to swim towards the shore.

Never force them to swim or throw them into the water, as this can be dangerous and traumatic for them. With proper precautions and care, Bulldogs can still enjoy water activities and stay safe at the same time.

Why Can’t Bulldogs Swim?

The Background

Across the different types and breeds of Bulldogs and their conformational similarities, they also share an inherent inability to swim. Though some Bulldogs can swim, most of them can’t.

There are multiple reasons that make swimming an impossible task for Bulldogs. Some of these are mentioned below:


Bulldogs have specific anatomy that makes it difficult for them to stay afloat in water. They have a big head which is accompanied by a round as well as heavy torso.

Legs, which are an essential component for swimming, are also very short and stunted in Bulldogs. The very structure of their bodies makes it difficult for them to swim.

Muscle Structure

Why Can't Bulldogs Swim? Muscle Structure

Bulldogs have heavy muscular anatomy which is its distinctive feature. However, the compact muscles also act as a barrier for the Bulldogs to swim as it adds up to the weight.

The tight muscles give the animal a fluffy structure which makes swimming impossible.

Brachycephalic Skull

Bulldogs have an adorable smooshed face and a particular type of skull called the Brachycephalic Skull. This type of skull has been one of the most desired traits for dog breeders as well as owners.

However, this feature has led to various health issues in these beautiful dogs. As they have shorter nasal passages, they suffer from respiratory issues, snoring, snorting, and obstruction of their respiratory passages.

As holding breath and respiratory stability is an essential part of swimming, this also adds to the reasons why the Bulldogs cannot swim.

The brachycephalic skull also means the animal has a shorter snout. Having a shorter snout means these dogs need to constantly tilt their head so that it remains out of the water.

It makes swimming difficult for them as they also have shorter legs and heavy-weight bodies that can’t float.

Short Legs

Bulldogs have short legs that are positioned in the corners of the body. Having shorter legs means difficulty in walking and moving. As a result, Bulldogs do not actually walk smoothly but waddle.

As legs are extremely important for swimming, Bulldogs‘ legs aren’t actually made for swimming just like other short-legged breeds.

Encourage your Bulldog to Swim

Why Can't Bulldogs Swim? Encourage your Bulldog to Swim

Although Bulldogs cannot swim, that does not mean your furbaby cannot go near the water. You can still enjoy the cold water with your precious companion by following some precautions.

You can always take your dog to shallow waters like backyard pools or creeks under constant guidance.

The instinct to swim is natural in most dogs but this cannot be said of the Bulldog. There are some who don’t even like being near any kind of water body. However, it differs from puppies to puppies.

Do not leave your Bulldog unguarded even for a minute as a sudden slip can be dangerous for them.

If your Bulldog loves water and wants to enjoy a swim with you in your pool or even in the ocean then a canine life vest should be on the top of your list of purchases for your companion.

There are specially designed life jackets for Bulldogs that will help them to stay afloat and enjoy being in the water.

The best part about these life vests of life jackets is that they are extremely comfortable and come in various sizes, depending on the age and size of your dog.

Once you’ve picked the right life vests the next thing to do is to help your Bulldog get used to wearing it. You can do so by making him wear it for short periods of time around the house or in your pool.

You can also make him wear it while taking your everyday walks. This way your Bulldog will get used to wearing the life vest and be comfortable when you take him to the ocean or a bigger pool.

Other Solutions

If you find it difficult to train your Bulldog to swim then consult a professional trainer or your vet. They can advise you on various processes to introduce your dog to water and encourage them to play in it.

An important point to note is, that even with the life vest on, you still need to maintain your vigilance when your pooch is in the water.

Best Life Vest for English Bulldog

Best Life Vest for English Bulldog - Why Can't Bulldogs Swim?

Life vests are essential when you are taking your English Bulldog for a swim. They help in preventing accidents and keep your dog safe.

There are numerous life vests available in the market as well as online that you can choose from depending on your pet’s needs.

But before choosing the perfect Life Vest, let’s consider a set of factors that would help in choosing the right one.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Choosing the Right Life Vest for Your Bulldog

Life vests are lifesavers, hence, cannot be bought on the basis of looks alone. There are various factors that need to be considered before making your final decision.


The first and foremost point that needs to be addressed is the fit of the life vest. Every life vest comes with adjustable straps that help in the proper fitting. Ensure you read in detail about the specifications of the straps and the recommended size for your dog before investing in the vest.


As English Bulldogs come in different sizes and weights, so do their life vests. These vests generally come in options based on their shapes, one being narrow-hipped and the other being broad-chested.

Before choosing the right vest, make sure you know about the specifications of your English Bulldog, like their weight, height, and circumference then choose accordingly.

User Friendly

Bulldogs are wonderful creatures but they can be very fussy at times, especially when it comes to putting on or taking off any foreign object. It could be a life vest or a different collar which your fur baby is not familiar with.

So, before buying a life vest, you need to see that the vest is very comfortable and convenient to put on and take off.

If it is easy and perfectly fits your dog then your next step is to see if your dog is comfortable wearing it. See if the buckles or the harness are causing any discomfort to your dog

Safety Features

Another important factor to consider while buying a life vest for your dog is the safety features. A life vest with good safety features will keep your dog protected and give you that much-needed peace of mind.

Check for telescopic necks and sturdy buckles before buying the life vest. A good life vest has a release buckle and strong straps that make it convenient for your Bulldog to play in the water.

A good life vest also comes with handles that make it far easier to get hold of your dog.

Reflective straps make quick spotting of your dog easier. Choose bright colours like green red or fluorescent colours that help you keep an eye on your Bulldog.

A front floatation pad makes sure your dog’s head is always above the water. As most life vests come with a hook to attach the leash, it is an advantage that can make you keep a hold of your dog


After the life jacket, you have chosen to meet all the above factors, make sure it is durable for a long time. We know how expensive dog accessories can be and buying them over and over can be hectic.

Consider the durability of the life vest by checking the strength of the straps. It must be sturdy enough to hold your dog’s body weight and must be made out of a material that is durable yet comfortable on your dog’s body.

Buying the right life vest is a one-time investment that must be made wisely.

Choosing the Best Life Vest for English Bulldog

Choosing the Best Life Vest for English Bulldog - Why Can't Bulldogs Swim?

After understanding the above factors, it is time to choose the right vest. Based on the reviews and standard quality of the life vests available online, here is a list of the top 10 available life vests for English Bulldogs that we recommend. You can consider these while wisely deciding on the right vest.

Let’s check out the pros and cons of the life vests along with their details, to choose the right life vest.

Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket

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This life vest is the best seller and has remarkable features that would assure its safety. Made from durable Ripstop material that gives maximum buoyancy to your English Bulldog in water, it comes in bright colours and reflective borders that make spotting your dog in water easier.

The comfortable material of the vest makes sure your dog does not feel uncomfortable while walking on land. It comes with a neoprene belly band and adjustable side-release buckles that protect the abdomen and belly with a secure fit.

This life vest has multiple handles that enable you to get hold of your dog easily. It has adjustable straps that make it convenient to use.

It comes in numerous sizes and you can choose according to the girth of your dog.  It keeps your Bulldog’s head up while swimming and is highly durable.

Multiple handles that give hold of your dog.No ring for attaching a leash.
A head floater that makes sure your Bulldog’s head is above water, always.Must buy the accurate size for fitting.
Neoprene belly band to protect your dog’s belly and abdomen from shock or other frictional problems.

Paws Aboard Neoprene Life Jacket

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The Paws Aboard Life Vest is one of the most reputed life jackets available for English Bulldogs and comes in vibrant colours and reflective strips that make sure your dog stays within your visibility.

It comes with a top rescue handle that makes sure you can lift up your dog and go in case of emergencies. This life vest is made up of breathable fabric, and neoprene that provides the right amount of buoyancy to your dog.

It can be worn all day as it is lightweight and does not cause any discomfort to your dog.

It comes in stylish patterns and has a breathable mesh that makes sure your dog is not exhausted from heat or chafed. It also enables proper water drainage and drying of water so that your dog has a proper sanitary condition.

It comes with an adjustable collar with a velcro secured mesh present in the underbelly, that makes sure it fits all body sizes.

Underbelly velcro that makes sure it fits your dog.No hook to attach a leash.
The lightweight material does not add up to your dog’s weight, adding to the buoyancy.
Comes with a slot where you can write up your dog’s name along with your phone number that would be helpful if your dog is lost.
Sturdy handle for easy pickup.

RUFFWEAR Float Coat Life Jacket

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This life vest is designed especially for dogs and supports their playing activities like rafting, boating, surfing and kayaking. It is designed to boost your dog’s innate instinct to swim naturally.

This life vest comes with strategically placed foam panels that are closed-cell and at the same time support an upright position for the security of your dog.

The vest provides buoyancy to the dog and has a strong handle on the back that helps move it out of the water easily.

This life vest has a telescoping neck closure that swiftly adjusts to fit different shapes of dogs and attaches easily and securely. The easy-to-clip buckles hold the straps firmly.

The jacket is made from water-compatible webbing that makes sure stability is maintained in water. It has reflective trim and comes with an additional hook to attach a light.

A telescopic neck closure that secures your dog’s head.Before buying, the size must be made by measuring the girth and height of your dog, as it is not custom-fit and comes in different sizes.
Strong and durable fabric.
Closed-cell foam panels to encourage your dog’s instinct for swimming.

A-MORE Dog Life Jackets Dog Saver

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This life vest is made from superior-quality polyester that is extremely lightweight and durable. It comes in multiple colours and has a super cute design.

It has velcro around its waist and neck that makes sure the jacket fits perfectly. It comes with adjustable, sturdy straps that can be tightened or loosened according to the girth of your English Bulldog.

The A-MORE life jacket has an easy-to-pull or lift safety handle that aids in moving the dog in or out of water.

An advanced breathable mesh is present in the underbelly region that helps in the proper drying and draining of excess water.

It is fit for use in beaches, pools, and lakes and supports activities like swimming, boating, surfing and hunting. It comes in three sizes, small, medium and large.

Extremely cute design.Buoyancy is not up to the mark.
Has a hook to attach a leash.
Convenient and easy to put on and take off.
Sturdy material.

ZippyPaws Adventure Life Jacket

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If you are looking for the safest life vest for your English Bulldog then this is definitely worth a try.

This life jacket aims at keeping your dog safe in and around water no matter what type of swimmer she is, a pro swimmer or just a learner. It has a reliable flotation feature that is enabled by dense foam panels that keep your dog above water, no matter where she is, in a lake, pool or ocean.

It has a bright appearance with reflective borders that is sewn into the vest which makes spotting her easier and thus protects her from incoming boats or other people.

This life jacket also makes pulling out your dog from the water easier as it comes with in-build handles that are very sturdy and handy.

It nurtures the swimming instinct in dogs and is extremely comfortable on their body. Make sure you choose the right size, from small, medium and large.

Fits perfectly when bought in the right size.Tearing along the seam at times was reported.
Extremely comfortable for dogs.
The foam panels are very effective and make sure the right amount of buoyancy is achieved.
Easy to put on.

HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket Vest

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This canine life vest is made from high-quality Polyester Oxford and Nylon fabric combined with mesh fabric and Pearl Cotton Foam. This makes the life jacket extremely sturdy and ripstop while keeping it dry and well-drained.

It has adjustable straps and a belt that makes sure your dog is well secured and comes with buckles for easy put on and take off. It has a top handle that makes sure you can pull out your dog from the water in case of emergencies.

A front float is present that makes sure your dog’s head is always above the water.

This life vest comes in three different sizes perfectly fitting your dog’s girth. It has attractive colours to choose from and reflective stripes enabling maximum visibility.

It also has a D-ring to put on a leash and sits comfortably on your dog in and out of water.

Foam-padded fabric that makes sure your dog gets the perfect buoyancy in water.No cons were reported.
Safety features include secure straps and buckles with the front float.
Cute colours and designs.
Sizes are available for all dog girths.

Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

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This life vest comes with extra padding that makes sure there is extra buoyancy for your dog to float yet does not restrict his movement in the water.

It has a fastening system around the belly that makes sure the jacket is securely fastened on your dog’s body and neck. It comes with secure adjustable straps as well as buckles that keep your dog secure and the buckles enable quick on and off of the jacket.

This jacket comes in ten bright colours to choose from and has reflective trims that make your dog visible from a far distance.

It comes with a handle that allows easy retrieving of the dog from water and has a D-hook to put on a leash for additional activities.

This product comes in four sizes that you can choose according to the size of your English Bulldog. The Vivaglory life jacket has durable stitching and sits comfortably on your dog.

The various size options make sure it fits your Bulldog no matter their age and size.Sometimes uncomfortable on the dog and must be practised wearing before taking in water.
Safety features are not compromised.
The attractive colour options are an additional benefit.

Bess Bridal Ripstop Pet Floatation Life Vest

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This life jacket is available in three sizes, small, medium and large and comes in a unique mermaid and shark style.

Made from high-grade polyester oxford and nylon material in combination with mesh fibre and cotton foam, it provides buoyancy to your dog and at the same time is extremely durable.

The mesh fibre of the fabric makes sure the water drainage system functions properly and enhances quick drying.

This life vest has supreme safety features like adjustable straps and quick-release buckles that make it easy to put on and off and fit perfectly on the dog.

It comes with a handle that can be used to pull the dog out of the water or attach to a boat hook. Additionally, a D-hook is present for leashes to attach.

The handle is extremely durable and sturdy.No reflective strip present on the vest.
An extremely lightweight jacket that fits perfectly.
Supports activities like swimming, kayaking, and boating.

EzyDog Doggy Floatation Device

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Made by using advanced scientific manufacturing technology and standard quality fabric, this life vest is extremely comfortable. It comes with adjustable neoprene straps that fit securely and add 50% more floatation to your dog than other similar vests.

It has superior construction and comes in an ergonomic design. This jacket comes in two colours, bright red and yellow and in four sizes, small, medium, large and extra-large.

Additionally, it has reflective stripes that make them easily visible even from a distance. It also has a grab handle that makes pulling your dog out of the water easier.

The jacket comes with a unique ultra-buoyancy foam that is placed strategically so that the dog’s natural swimming position is maintained.

Ultra Buoyancy feature that makes sure your dog floats in all situations.No hook is present for the attachment of a leash.
Comfortable belly straps that securely fasten the vest.
Bright reflective borders that aid night vision.

He&Ha pet Dog Life Jacket

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This life jacket provides high buoyancy as it strategically places two layers of closed-cell foam in the vest.

It uses a belly panel foam that boosts underside floatation whereas an under-chin float is also added that acts as a front float and keeps the head of your dog always floating. 

It comes with an optimally placed handle that is very convenient when it comes to pulling your pet out of water or from any danger.

It comes with multi-reflective trim that enhances their visibility when they are far away in day or night. It comes with an additional hook to attach a leash. Made with breathable mesh, the product is extremely comfortable for your dog.

Front float that makes sure your dog’s head is always above the water.Comes in medium and extra-large sizes only.
Breathable fabric that is comfortable to wear.
Multi-reflective trim that makes spotting your dog easy.

Tips For Introducing Your Bulldog To Swimming

  • Take time and make your dog adjust in the water.
  • Start with shallow waters and aim at keeping your dog calm in the water.
  • Make sure your dog does not drink the water as pools are generally chlorinated and natural water bodies like lakes or ponds have bacteria and other microbes.
  • Do not force your dog to swim, let them go with their natural instinct.
  • Once they find adapted in the shallow water, switch to a deeper water body.
  • Encourage your Bulldog to paddle in the water and give him treats during this process.
  • Start with small games like fetching or balls and watch them gain confidence in the water.
  • After you get the right signal that your dog is ready to swim, start taking small steps at a time.
  • In all the above steps, make sure your Bulldog is guarded by a life vest and is not left alone for a minute.

Before You Go

Bulldogs are a breed that is not well-suited for swimming due to their physical characteristics. Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a flat, short snout and a compact, muscular body.

These physical traits make it difficult for them to keep their head above water and to breathe properly while swimming.

Additionally, Bulldogs have a heavy, dense body structure, making it difficult to stay afloat in water. Bulldogs are also prone to overheating and exhaustion, which can be exacerbated by swimming.

However, with proper training and safety precautions, Bulldogs can learn to swim in shallow water under close supervision.

It’s important to never leave a Bulldog unattended near water and to always use a life jacket designed specifically for Bulldogs or other brachycephalic breeds if attempting to teach them to swim.

Consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer can help you determine if swimming is a safe and appropriate activity for your Bulldog.


Can bulldogs swim?

Yes, bulldogs can swim, but they are not natural swimmers and may struggle in the water due to their body structure and short snouts.

Why do bulldogs have trouble swimming?

Bulldogs have a heavy, muscular build and a short snout, which makes it difficult for them to stay afloat and breathe properly while swimming.

Can bulldogs drown if they go swimming?

Yes, bulldogs can drown if they go swimming and are not properly supervised or equipped with a life jacket. It’s important to monitor your bulldog closely and provide them with appropriate safety gear if they are swimming.

Can bulldogs be trained to swim?

Yes, bulldogs can be trained to swim with patience and proper training techniques. It’s important to start slowly and gradually build up their confidence and endurance in the water.

What should I do if my bulldog falls into the water?

If your bulldog falls into the water, it’s important to stay calm and try to guide them to the shore or a safe area. Avoid jumping in after them, as they may panic and accidentally push you under the water. Once they are out of the water, monitor them closely for signs of distress or injury.