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Can Border Terriers Swim? Do They Like to Swim?

As a new or aspiring border terrier owner, you might ask yourself: Will my dog like to swim? Does my dog like to swim?

Plenty of dog breeds were made for the water. They love being in it. There are dog beaches and plenty of lakes designated just so you can take your dog out in the water–throwing toys, playing fetch, and jumping off piers. Maybe you even have your pool in the backyard and wonder if your dog might want to enjoy it, too.

Border terriers have long wirehair that is water repellent and helps them swim faster. Given their body size and shape, border terriers were basically built for the water and often love swimming. They have the instinct to paddle in the water and can easily glide through.

So, yes border terriers can swim and oftentimes they do enjoy it.

7 Reasons Border Terriers Are Great Swimmers

There are so many cool reasons why your border terrier actually knows how to and enjoys swimming. In this section, we will look at a few of the main reasons.

Built For Swimming

Border terriers were actually built and bred for water. They are small, agile dogs always on the hunt–great at tracking and chasing small critters.

They were not bred for large game hunting but for anything from squirrels to foxes. They would follow this prey on land or in the water.

Border terriers have small but strong bodies with plenty of leg muscle making forward momentum easy for them on land and water. Your border terrier is most likely going to come with an instinct of what to do once they are in the water.

So, your dog sinking or not knowing what to do is not something you will need to worry about.


Border terriers are incredibly agile dogs, typically being able to jump high and run fast. They are coordinated and typically always land on their feet.

This not only makes them great show dogs but also gives them a great advantage as water dogs. Border terriers are small and light, giving them a great deal of buoyancy in the water, as opposed to dogs such as the bulldog or other uncoordinated, dense breeds.

Their leg strength is also a great advantage. They propel them easily and quickly through the water. Being a more athletic dog breed makes swimming easy for them and a good way to exercise and use their strength.

Their Fur

Border terriers have wire hair that grows and sheds less than normal dogs. Their hair is light but soft and easily repels water.

This gives them the ability to glide while they are in the water and allows swimming to come naturally to them. Their hair also naturally dries quickly and does not get as dirty or smelly as some short-haired dogs after a dip in the lake.

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This makes taking your pooch to the beach a more pleasant endeavor.

Playful Nature

Border terriers naturally have a lot of energy and spunk. They are a very playful dog breed. They enjoy being outdoors, running around large grassy areas chasing squirrels, and playing with other dogs (if properly socialized).

With this desire for activity, swimming is a great option for your pup as they will love being outdoors, getting exercise, and playing fetch in the water. They will also swim around with you while splashing and running around.


This reason depends more on your specific lifestyle and hobby activities than the nature of your dog. However, if you like water sports or activities, such as swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, etc. then it’s good news that your border terrier is a water dog!

Fido will love coming along on all your adventures because they love to be around their humans, and love spending time with you! So yes, feel free to bring your dog on all your water plans, assuming it’s safe for them to be there.

Outdoor Breed

Border terriers naturally like spending time outdoors. They love long walks, runs, and chasing animals; and yes, this includes being outside and splashing in the pool.

Your border terrier will love any outdoor activity and will naturally know what to do at the beach or poolside. Even though border terriers love to explore, you’ll never have to worry about them coming back when they’re called. Border terriers are easy to train and are great outdoor companions.

Just be sure to keep an eye on them so they’re not getting too far out of their depth.


Border terriers are incredibly energetic and need 40-60 minutes of exercise per day to keep up with their breed’s energy needs. Taking them to a dog park is a great way to burn off that extra energy, but swimming is also another worthy option.

Having your dog swim around for a bit and play fetch or splash around with other dogs is definitely a good way to wear off extra energy while socializing your border terrier with other dogs and people.

Fresh, Salt, or Pool Water?

Border terriers are not picky when it comes to swimming. They’re more than capable of swimming at saltwater beaches, freshwater lakes, and swimming pools. However, always be wary of what your dog is exposed to when it comes to pools with chemicals.

Treat them like you would treat a child when considering chlorine levels and/or other involved chemicals.

Small Pools

If you are looking for something fun for your pup when it’s hot outside, consider buying them a small pool to splash around in the backyard. Nothing inflatable since you won’t want their claws to puncture a hole, but something small you can fill with a hose for them to play the day away.

Reasons Why Your Border Terrier May Not Like Swimming

Even though your border terrier is built for swimming that doesn’t mean they’re always going to like it. Here are a few reasons why your border terrier might not like water.

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Reason #1: Past Trauma

I own a border terrier who does not like water. I’m not exactly sure why or what he was exposed to early in life, but he doesn’t like going anywhere near it willingly.

We adopted him at 5 years old and it seems no matter how much exposure we give him, he will never actually like swimming. Still, he knows how and has no problem doing it.

Seems we got the only water dog who doesn’t actually like water.

Encountering an instance like this is more likely when adopting an adult and is not something you will typically have to worry about when adopting early on in puppyhood. As long as early exposure to water happens, your border terrier will be jumping off piers in no time.

Reason #2: Unsure

Even though your border terrier instinctively knows how to swim that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re entirely sure what they’re doing in water. They will take cues from you.

Think of it like you’re giving them swimming lessons or training them on what to expect in the water. If you encourage them while they’re in the water, your pooch will grow even more fond of swim time.

Reason #3: Bath Time

I’m not sure if this is just the dogs I’ve known in my life or if it’s most dogs in general, but they don’t seem to like bath time. I know mine sure doesn’t.

So, sometimes your border terrier might confuse fun swim time with bath time and may not want to be in the water because they are associating it with something they don’t like. With practice, your border terrier will easily be able to tell the difference.


Toys are always a great way to increase your dog’s exercise and enjoyment. Bringing one along such as a ball or other toy to play fetch with is a great way to encourage your dog to burn off some energy and have some exciting play time. This is also a great way to encourage dogs who might be a bit more hesitant about water.

Tossing and retrieving is also a fantastic way to get your border terrier some extra exercise and to burn off the large amount of energy they have.

border terrier plays with tennis ball

Yes, Border Terriers Can Swim and They Like It

Border terriers were built for water and there are lots of great ways you can expose them to it for both theirs and your desire. They have the energal instincts to swim, and a general enjoyment of outdoor activity.

This is great news for anyone who wants to add an outdoor companion to their lifestyle.

So, search out new areas, take along toys and treats, and take a page out of your border terriers book by going on new adventures and exploring new beaches, lakes, and pools to see what you can find.