Can Havanese Swim? (& Do They Like Water?)

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Can Havanese Swim? (& Do They Like Water?)The Havanese is a popular dog breed, beloved for its playful and loyal nature as well as its toy breed size and adorable looks. It is an incredible companion breed and will make most families, couples, or individuals very happy. But those adventurers among us may well be wondering if this sweet little breed will be able to keep up with them in the water.

Do Havanese like water? Will they be happy to take a dip on a journey?

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Do Havanese Like Water?

The Havanese was not bred for water like Newfoundlands or Poodles, but the coast and the sea are in their DNA nonetheless. The breed has genetic ties back to the Tenerife Dogs and originated in Cuba, a small island. It is likely that whilst they were never bred for water work or water rescue, the breed has spent significant time dipping their toes in the sea.

Most owners report that Havanese love water. Once exposed to it, many Havanese will thoroughly enjoy spending time in and around pools, lakes, rivers, and the sea. However, this will depend largely on the individual dog and whether they have any past experiences, or how early you introduce them to water.

For rescue dogs, owners may well find that their Havanese is opposed to any kind of water due to a poor experience earlier in their life. Similarly, if owners leave it too late to introduce their Havanese to swimming and water, they might find that their dog struggles to adapt and enjoy the experience.

Ultimately, so long as a Havanese is introduced to water at a young age and in a delicate, careful way, and assuming they have no previous trouble related to swimming or water, they should be up for a dip in the pool.

Can Havanese Swim?

Typically, most dogs can swim if put in water. The instinct to doggy paddle is not something that has to be taught but rather something that is activated. However, since the Havanese is such a small breed, it is definitely encouraged to ‘teach’ them to swim before you take them anywhere in public or anywhere deep.

This will help to ensure that they are not in any danger, and if there are any issues with them figuring out what to do, you can be there to calmly guide them, rather than panic about how to get them out of the water.

4 Reasons to Get Your Havanese to Swim More

With that out of the way, it’s important to note that swimming is a great activity to get your Havanese engaged in.

1. Swimming Is Great Exercise

There is a reason that Olympic swimmers look the way they do – swimming is an incredible exercise.

It’s good for us, but it’s also just as good for dogs, too. Swimming allows dogs to burn calories and work muscles that they might not otherwise get the opportunity to and it also allows them to do so with their owner, creating a stronger bond whilst getting fit!

2. Swimming Is Good For The Joints

Both veterinary and human medical facilities have utilized hydrotherapy pools for years because of the medical benefits of swimming. The water reduces pressure and weight, soothing sore joints and helping to exercise and regain mobility in them.

This is incredibly useful for Havanese, who are prone to joint dysplasia and luxating patellas.

3. Swimming Relieves Stress

As with most exercise, swimming will release endorphins within both your and your dog’s brain. These endorphins will make you happy, but they are also great at relieving any stress, anxiety, or fear that might be going on.

For a sensitive breed such as the Havanese, this can be really beneficial.

4. Swimming Is Mentally Stimulating

Trying to ensure that your dog gets enough exercise can be hard, especially if you are always just walking them. Both your pet and you are likely to get bored of the same routine. But swimming is something more exciting and provides more sensory and generally more mental stimulation for your dog.

It also requires more effort from them in order to continue paddling.

How to Teach Your Havanese to Like Water More and Swim

If you are convinced that you should teach your Havanese to swim, here’s how.

1. Introduce Them To Water

It is important, regardless of what age your Havanese is (although teaching a dog to swim works better with younger dogs) that you first introduce them to water. You can do this by setting up a paddling pool with a couple of inches of water in it. Ideally, you want the water to be no higher than their stomach.

It will help greatly at this stage if you sit in the water yourself with toys and treats to entice your dog over. The goal of this stage is to make sure that your Havanese has formed positive associations with being in the water, so playing and cuddling with them will help.

Continue doing this regularly for about a week (or for 3 or 4 attempts) to get your dog truly accustomed to the water.

2. Try A Little Deeper

Once they are getting excited about trips to the paddling pool, fill the pool a little bit more. This time, you want the water to go up to their shoulders or neck. At this stage, you should introduce a lifejacket should you be planning on your dog wearing one regularly. This will help them to adjust to the feeling of it.

It is very important at this stage that your Havanese can still touch the floor. You may notice that their front legs paddle anyway, this is completely fine. So long as they are able to touch the floor, paddling is encouraged.

Again, you may want to sit in the pool with the dog and some toys (but not treats) to encourage them during this stage. You should keep doing dips in the pool like this until your dog begins to paddle when you go to place them in the pool. This is a sign that they are ready for more swimming.

3. Get Them Swimming

When your dog begins to paddle before it hits the water, you can safely fill the paddling pool up to full. To get your Havanese used to this, pick them up and slowly lower them into the water each time. They should always hit the water paddling.

You can sit in the water for this stage, too, to help ensure that your Havanese is safe. Watch their paddling, and keep an eye on their back legs as often dogs will forget to move them when paddling. If this happens, gently poke the back legs and your Havanese should swing them back into action.

Once you’re confident that your dog is swimming properly each time, you can begin to explore water together in the real world.

4 Havanese Swimming Safety Tips

Swimming with a dog is incredibly fun and it’s good for both of you, but there are a few things to consider if you’re taking your Havanese swimming.

1. Purchase A Doggy Life Vest

You wouldn’t go on a boat or put a young child in the water without giving them a life vest, so why do it to your dog? Even if you are sure that they are a confident swimmer, it is better safe than sorry. Canine life vests are easy to buy and use, and will just provide your dog with an extra layer of protection.

2. Stay Close To Your Dog

If you aren’t in the water, make sure to not veer away from wherever your dog is swimming. If they need you, you should be able to be there instantly. Likewise, if you are swimming with your Havanese, stay close to them at all times.

3. Swim Places With Flat Banks

If you are swimming in wild locations, ensure that you stick to places with flat banks. This will help if your Havanese begins to struggle! It will be much easier for them to get themselves out of the water on flatter banks. Ideally, of course, you will be able to help them out, but this is a good precaution to take.

4. Make Sure To Give Them Regular Breaks

Swimming is a great way to give your dog plenty of exercises, but it’s also a great way to wear them out! Havanese are only small, so make sure that they’re getting regular rest breaks from swimming to ensure that they don’t overdo it.

Letting a worn-out dog swim is dangerous, especially when they’re as small as a Havanese is. So just keep an eye on them and as much as they might seem like they want to spend hours swimming – you mustn’t let them!


Essentially, Havanese can and will swim so long as you go about it in the right way. Take care and be gentle with them, ensure that they feel safe and comfortable and you will have a happy water dog in no time at all!

The most important thing when teaching your dog to swim is to ensure that they are safe at all times. Swimming is an enriching, fun activity for you and your Havanese to do together but it is imperative that you do it right.

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