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

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Can Maltese Swim? (& Do They Like Water?)Some dogs take better to water than others, and it isn’t always easy to know which breeds are likely to enjoy a dip in the pool over others.

It’s important to know, though, before you get a dog whether or not it’s likely to love swimming or absolutely hate it!  The Maltese is many things, but is it a good breed to take for a swim?

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Do Maltese Like Water?

Lots of Maltese owners have reported that their pooch absolutely hates water. The dog breed seems to be very much a land lover, not a sea swimmer. The breed has been reported to be hesitant around pools of water, afraid more than anything to put their adorable little paws in the wet pool before them.

The dog does, however, enjoy spending the hot summers playing with water. Spray guns, hoses, you name it, the Maltese will likely love it. Being around water seems to be fine, just not in it!

If you do manage to convince a Maltese into the water, they’re very unlikely to paddle on instinct the first few times, unlike some other breeds. A lot of people take this as a sign to stop there, but that doesn’t need to be the case!

Can Maltese Swim?

On instinct, the answer is usually no. That’s not to say that every Maltese will be unable to swim if they stumble across a lake or pond, but a large percentage of the breed will not be able to. But, that being said, the Maltese can be taught to swim.

Some Maltese may have a real issue with being put into water, and this hesitancy might develop into a complete inability to learn to swim. The breed’s lack of instinctual know-how in addition to their incredibly dense fur means that the breed does have a tendency to sink a bit!

However, if you’re very patient, and you take it at the right speed and in the right way, you can teach the Maltese to swim. Nobody’s saying that it will be easy, but it is possible!

6 Reasons to Get Your Maltese to Swim More

Below, we’ll look at some of the reasons why you might want to get your Maltese in the water.

Swimming Can Improve Muscle Health

Just as in humans, getting any dog breed to swim can help to improve and maintain muscle health and strength. Swimming is a low-intensity exercise that involves a lot more muscular action than it lets on. As a result, it can really be beneficial to a whole range of dog breeds.

As Maltese have quite a long life expectancy, swimming can be really helpful in getting the breed’s muscles to stay strong as they age, without having to wear them out too much.

Swimming Can Improve Joint Health

Just as with your Maltese’s muscles, swimming can help to maintain the health of their joints. This is especially important in this breed, as it is prone to developing joint problems. Getting your Maltese to swim will help to prevent this, saving your dog from discomfort later in life (and saving you money on vet bills!).

Swimming Helps to Cool Your Maltese

The Maltese has a dense coat, and in the summer, the breed can get really quite warm. It can be hard to stop the breed from running around, which ultimately just makes the breed even warmer!

Fortunately, popping the Maltese in a pool or pond for a swim can really help to cool down their internal body temperature.

This works even better if you let your Maltese run around for a little bit afterward, as it’ll allow the evaporation of the water to help lower the body’s temperature even further.

Swimming Can Ease Chronic Pain

As breeds get older, they inevitably run into various health concerns and issues. The Maltese, unfortunately, is no exception to this. But luckily, swimming can help to ease the aches and pains that come with old age.

Swimming is incredibly beneficial for the Maltese as it ages, but it is important for you to introduce them to it at a young age, as otherwise, you may have to fight to teach an old dog new tricks!

Swimming Can Help With Weight Loss

Maltese, like many small dog breeds, are prone to putting on too much weight. This is often because owners underestimate how much exercise the breed needs, and sometimes because the breeds are just too hard to say no to!

Swimming is a great way to counteract that, as it helps the Maltese to lose weight without having to put too much impact on their joints.

Swimming Is A Great Way To Bond

The Maltese is a very sensitive breed and it loves to spend time with its family. Swimming, and the process of teaching the Maltese to swim, is a great way to spend time with your pup and to bond with one another.

How to Teach Your Maltese to Like Water More and Swim

Next, we’ll take a look at how you can teach your Maltese to swim.

Go in the Water First

If you’re struggling with your Maltese’s fear of water, it’s always worth demonstrating that there is nothing to be afraid of. Just like with children, showing yourself doing the scary thing can really help a dog to understand that there is no immediate danger.

Show your Maltese that the water is safe by climbing in, and spending time in there. Do so slowly and calmly, and you should find that it’s easier for you to get your Maltese in next time!

Use Treats or a Clicker

The Maltese is a breed that responds really well to positive reinforcement. That applies to trying to get them to behave as well as trying to teach them new things – like swimming!

Reward your Maltese with a treat and/or a click on the clicker each time they stay in the water for a few seconds longer than before.

This will help them to associate the water with rewards and pleasant experiences, making them more likely to take a dip.

Don’t Force It, Go Slowly

The best way to get your Maltese to swim is to work on it bit by bit. Start off by introducing them to a puddle or a pool of water that is only a couple of inches deep. Each time you get your Maltese into the water, make sure that the pool is deeper.

Try and do this day by day, rather than all at once, as you’ll find that your Maltese might just become overwhelmed – which is exactly what you want to avoid!

Start in a Small Pool That Has Still Water

If you were learning to swim, would you rather swim in a kid paddling pool or a raucous ocean? Think about teaching your Maltese to swim in the same way. You’re much safer and more likely to succeed by getting your Maltese into a small pool of still water over a large body of water that is waving around!

Make Sure They Can Warm Up and Dry Off Soon After

When it isn’t the peak of summer, you’ll likely find that your Maltese will shiver when they get out of the water.

This will instantly make them less inclined to go back in. One way to remove this negative aspect of swimming for your Maltese is to provide heated blankets and a chance to really dry off when they get out of the pool.

This can also help to prevent any irritation or annoyance caused by water on the skin and in the fur, so it’s a win-win.

6 Maltese Swimming Safety Tips

Finally, we’ll take a look at some Maltese swimming safety tips.

Don’t Ever Leave Them Alone in the Water

Whether your Maltese has learned to swim or is still learning, you must never leave them alone in the water, no matter how shallow.

It is crucial that you stay with them at all times, in part to make the Maltese feel safe and in part to ensure that they are safe!

Put a Life Jacket on Them if It Is Too Deep for Them To Touch the Floor

As soon as your Maltese reaches the point where the water is deeper than a few inches, you should put a life jacket on them.

This is the best way to ensure that your beloved pet stays safe. If at any point the Maltese wants to stop paddling, this way you know that they won’t sink.

Watch Them for a Few Hours Afterwards

Each time you take your Maltese for a swim, it’s important for you to keep an eye on them for a few hours afterward.

Keep an eye out for shivering or whimpering, as these can be signs of a coat that won’t dry, or something more sinister like an illness.

In all likelihood, your Maltese will be just fine, but it is always best to be safe.

Be Sure to Dry Them Off to Prevent Irritation

Likewise, after each trip to the pool, you should be sure to get your Maltese nice and dry as soon as possible.

This is the best way to prevent your Maltese from falling ill from the cold and will keep the skin and fur from developing irritation from the moisture of the pool.

Don’t Take Them in Chlorinated Pools

Chlorinated pools are great for us, but they can be really irritating for dogs, and they are not able to stop themselves from drinking the water like we are. To keep your dog’s skin and insides safe from harsh chemicals, it’s best to just avoid chlorinated swimming pools altogether.


The Maltese dog breed doesn’t like swimming, but it can be taught to love it. With patience, love, and a careful nature, owners can get their Maltese to be a confident swimmer and get them exercising in and around the water.

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