Do Belgian Malinois Like Water & Can They Swim?

Belgian Malinois are fantastic dogs that make great pets.

Historically, Belgian Malinois were bred as herding dogs, but today they make active pets or work as police dogs, therapy dogs, or as part of search and rescue teams.

For the most part, Belgian Malinois are very active and love to run, go for long hikes, play for hours and even swim!

This post will outline some benefits of swimming and how to introduce your Belgian Malinois to swimming so that you can both enjoy the water.

Do Belgian Malinois Like Water?

For the most part, Belgian Malinois are known as a breed that likes to swim. Most Belgian Malinois are strong swimmers and will eagerly get into the water.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Each dog is an individual with its own personality and traits.

It is not guaranteed that your Belgian Malinois will love water automatically. It may take some time for you to show them that swimming is enjoyable!

Most of the time, if you introduce your puppy to water early on, they become happy swimmers as adults. If your adult dog has no experience (or had a bad experience) with water, they will likely be very hesitant to swim.

Can Belgian Malinois Swim?

In general, Belgian Malinois are strong swimmers.

They are an overall very athletic breed, and this extends to swimming. Belgian Malinois often have great agility and endurance and can often exercise for many hours before tiring.

Belgian Malinois are known to be great competitors at dock diving events – in which dogs compete by jumping for distance or height from a dock into the water.

Do Belgian Malinois Have Webbed Feet?

Belgian Malinois do not have webbed feet like some breeds that were bred for swimming. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be strong swimmers.

For reference, some breeds with webbed feet that were bred for swimming are:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • German Wire-Haired Pointer
  • German Short-Haired Pointer
  • Dachshund
  • Poodle
  • American Water Spaniel
  • Weimaraner
  • Otterhound
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  • Irish Water Spaniel

How To Introduce Your Belgian Malinois To Water

Once your Belgian Malinois is comfortable with the water, they are sure to swim at every chance they can get.

If you have a puppy, follow these tips to introduce them to water.

Start Early

The key to getting your Belgian Malinois puppy comfortable with water is to introduce them to it early. You can start introducing your puppy to swimming at about 10 weeks of age.

A great place to start is to get them a kiddie pool for the yard. You can stand in the pool and encourage them to get in or splash them gently with the water.

You can also take your puppy to a beach where dogs are permitted and let them put their feet in the water. Having good experiences with the water early on will help to lay the groundwork for wanting to swim when they are old enough.

Give Lots Of Encouragement

When you are letting your puppy interact with water, be sure to encourage them at every step.

Even they even put one foot in the water, offer them a little treat for their efforts. You can have some training treats in your pocket or offer them their favorite toy.

Play Fetch

A great way to introduce your dog to the water is by playing fetch.

You can wade into the water and throw your puppy’s favorite toy in the shallow water.

They will likely go after it right away and won’t be bothered by the water at all! Remember that your puppy shouldn’t be tossed in deep water right away – keep them in shallow water by the shoreline of a dog-friendly beach.

Be Prepared To Swim With Them

Usually, if your dog sees you walk out into the water, they will follow out of fear of missing out!
When you are teaching your dog to swim, be prepared to go into the water with them. You can wade into the water and call out for them to follow, and they will hopefully join you.

How To Train Your Belgian Malinois With Peace Of Mind:

If you haven’t trained your Belgian Malinois properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Belgian Malinois completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT. 

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)

What Are The Benefits Of Swimming?

There are a ton of benefits for dogs when it comes to swimming.

Great Exercise

The Belgian Malinois loves to be active in general.

The more activities that you can do with your Belgian Malinois, the better! Swimming makes an excellent form of exercise and is just a change from your regular walks, runs, or hikes.

Great Way To Cool Off

The Belgian Malinois has a heavy coat, which may cause them to get hot pretty quickly in the summer months.

Being able to exercise them in the water is beneficial because they can still run, fetch and swim, all while keeping cool.

Swimming will be as refreshing for your dog as it is for you.

Much like you, your dog will love to exercise by swimming or cool off after exercising if you live near a body of water. Nothing like a cool swim after a long run or hike!

Cardiovascular Fitness

Swimming is a great form of cardiovascular exercise for your dog.

Experts say that 1 minute of swimming is equivalent to 4 minutes of running for your dog. Note that this only applies to swimming and not to just playing fetch in the water.

Lower Impact Exercise

Just like humans, dogs can feel the strain of running on concrete and hard surfaces.

Swimming is a good form of exercise for dogs that has a lower impact on their joints. Have you ever noticed how you feel lighter in the water and how swimming doesn’t give you the same aches and pains as other forms of exercise?

The same goes for dogs! If you can get your Belgian Malinois to swim in a calm lake or pond, it will be a great exercise that doesn’t cause them as much joint pain, especially in older dogs.

Depending on where you live, you may even be able to find a facility where you can bring your dog to swim in an indoor, heated pool.

Great Exercise For Older Dogs

As mentioned above, swimming is easier on the joints than other forms of exercise, so it may be a good choice of exercise for your older dog.

Belgian Malinois, like many large breeds, may be at risk for joint issues like hip dysplasia as they age.

This means that exercise like running can become painful for them. As always, talk to your vet if you think hip dysplasia is an issue for your dog. They may be able to recommend a course of treatment, and swimming as exercise might be a great, low-impact option to keep them moving!

Rehabilitation After Surgery

If your dog is recovering from any type of surgery, swimming might be part of their rehabilitation.

The same is true for humans – many people use swimming and water exercises as part of their physical therapy after surgery for ligament tears, orthopedic surgery, or after stroke or paralysis.

What Are The Downsides Of Swimming?

Swimming is a great exercise for Belgian Malinois, but there may be a few downsides.

Potential For Ear Infections

Dogs have sensitive ears, and no matter how clean a pool, lake, or pond is, there will always be some level of bacteria in the water.

Water can get into your dog’s sensitive ears and irritate them, causing an ear infection. To help prevent discomfort, you should always wipe your dog’s ears with a soft, clean towel after swimming. Make sure to be gentle but to do your best to get water out of the inside of their ears.

You can even use wipes that are specially made for cleaning dog’s ears, which you can find at your local pet supply store.

Drinking Lots Of Water

Drinking lots of water is not necessarily an issue, but it can bring on gastrointestinal upset.

As your dog swims, they might be taking in a lot of water as they breathe through their mouths. Oftentimes, drinking a lot of water quickly can cause a dog to throw up.

If you find that your dog drinks a lot of water while swimming, make sure to limit their swim time and have fresh, clean water nearby that they can drink.

Getting Tired Far From Shore

Getting tired while swimming could be an issue if your dog is swimming in a deep lake.

Just like us, dogs may overestimate how far they can swim out before tiring. When this happens, they may get tired and struggle to swim back to the safety of the shore.

It is important to monitor your dog at all times when they are swimming. You shouldn’t let your dog get out too far or out of your eyesight.

Getting a life vest for your dog is a good idea if they tend to swim out far into the lake. Some dogs prefer to just stay in the shallow water and play fetch, but for dogs that prefer to swim some distance, make sure you know where they are and have their life vest on.

Wet Dog Smell

This downside is very easy to manage but can be smelly!
If you take your Belgian Malinois swimming, their thick coat may get that signature wet dog smell as they dry off.

It is important to properly care for your Belgian Malinois coat, so you can use that wet dog smell as an opportunity to give them a proper bath with a shampoo specially formulated for dogs. Once they are dry, it is also a good opportunity to give them a good brushing.

Belgian Malinois have a double coat since they were bred as a cold-weather dogs. Giving them regular brushings helps them to shed out excess hair – hair that will end up on your floor and furniture if you don’t brush it!


Swimming is a great form of exercise for your Belgian Malinois. Many Belgian Malinois are strong swimmers and will really enjoy getting in the water.

If you have a Belgian Malinois puppy, be sure to introduce them to water as soon as possible at around 10 weeks of age.

Ensuring that your puppy has positive experiences with water, even gentle splashing, playing by a shoreline, will help them to be comfortable and competent swimmers later on.

When you are introducing your Belgian Malinois to water and swimming, remember to take it slow and encourage them with every little step.

Like children, just throwing your Belgian Malinois into deep water will be traumatizing and will not make them want to swim, so be sure to take it step by step and start in shallow water first.

Once your dog is comfortable with swimming, you will find that there are so many benefits. It is a great form of exercise for your double-coated Belgian Malinois, who may become overheated during summer exercise.

Swimming is also great for older dogs, as it is gentler on their joints and bones than running and jumping about.

Remember that it is important to supervise your dog while swimming, and it is good practice to outfit them with a life vest specially made for dogs.

Anything can happen while swimming, and if your dog tires out and struggles to swim back to shore, you will be happy that they are wearing a life vest.

Remember to pick your swimming spots carefully – calm lakes and ponds are a great choice, but oceans with big waves and rivers with strong currents can be dangerous.

As mentioned previously, you may even be able to find a facility near you that has a pool specifically for dogs! This might be a great choice if you don’t live in an area with safe bodies of water for your dog.

Swimming will make a great change from your normal day-to-day activities and will be a great way for you and your dog to cool off during the summer. Remember that your dog will thank you for introducing them to water and swimming!