Can Maltese Swim? (11 Important Safety Instructions)

Whether you have a pool at home, pass by a lake while walking your dog, or plan a vacation to the beach, it’s important to know if your Maltese can swim.

Maltese can swim very well, it is an innate talent with them. However, many Maltese do not like swimming, they prefer to stand on the edge of the shore and dip their paws in the water. It is also not necessarily good for them as they are prone to joint problems such as rheumatism and arthritis. If you let Maltese into the water, the symptoms of these joint ailments can increase.

Talent-wise, Maltese are pretty good swimmers. But they don’t all like it, nor does it really agree with all of them. That said, let’s take a closer look at the issue of Maltese and swimming.

We answer the questions if Maltese can swim and if they like the water. Then we will give you tips on how to motivate your Maltese to swim and how to teach him to swim.

After that, we also tell you where it is safe for your Maltese to swim and where it is better not to swim. Finally, we also give some important tips on what to look out for so that your Maltese is always safe when swimming.

Can Maltese Swim?

By their physical disposition and talent, Maltese are good swimmers. However, many of them do not like swimming so much.

And maybe that is even better. Maltese are often prone to joint problems such as rheumatism and arthritis. If your Maltese is already predisposed in that regard, swimming can exacerbate the symptoms.

Also, Maltese have coats with fairly long hair and no undercoat. This coat quickly soaks up water, and when they get out of the water, it doesn’t dry as quickly. They can then freeze easily and catch a cold.

Therefore, it is important that you actively dry your Maltese after he has been swimming. Remember to take a towel with you and gently dry him all over his body so that the water is drawn out of his coat.

Don’t be too rough when drying him, though. Dry him gently, as if you were giving him a relaxing massage.

Do Maltese Like the Water?

As different as Maltese are, as different is their preference for or aversion to water. It simply cannot be said in general, Maltese are really too different for that.

There are Maltese dogs who love to be in the water. However, many Maltese shy away from water and would not voluntarily take a refreshing dip in the pool.

It is best for you to find out for your Maltese how much he likes the water. Give him different opportunities to experience water and see how he reacts.

If he happily plunges into the creek next to the hiking trail during a walk in the summer, you may have a water rat among your Maltese. If he can’t be motivated to get too close to the water even with a treat, he is more likely to be the kind of Maltese that doesn’t like water that much.

But both are ok, there is no obligation for Maltese to go into the water. Of course, apart from the regular baths for grooming at home.

You should definitely not push your Maltese into the water. If he likes it on his own, it is fine, then you can teach him to swim.

But if he has an aversion to water, you should not force him to swim. This will only lead to defiance and maybe even a fear of water.

How to Motivate Your Maltese to Swim

The tendency to swim is, as mentioned, very different in Maltese. If your Maltese is not an enthusiastic swimmer, you can still try to motivate him to swim.

The best way to motivate your Maltese to swim is to lead by example. Show him how much fun it is to get in the water and exercise.

A good way to get a Maltese used to the water is to use a kiddie pool. It can really pay off to invest in a pool like this.

A kiddie pool is also a good idea if they have a Maltese that is afraid of the water. The manageable size and shallow water make it easier for him to overcome his shyness.

How to Teach Your Maltese to Swim

Teaching your Maltese to swim is not easy. Of course, it depends on whether he feels like it or if he is rather shy of water.

Learning to swim is not as easy as learning tricks, or commands like sit, down, stay, or barking on command. It also requires a different training approach.

However, it is absolutely necessary if you have a pool. Your Maltese could accidentally fall in, and if he is not used to swimming, bad things could happen.

It is best to teach your Maltese to swim while he is still a puppy. Puppies generally learn easier and faster than adult dogs. a puppy also has not yet had the opportunity to develop a fear of the water.

So it is much easier for you to start training early. However, be sure to wait until your Maltese puppy is 8 or 9 months old before teaching it to swim. Before that, he is not developed enough.

Below we will give you some tips on how to teach your Maltese to swim.

Start With a Kids Pool

The best way is to start the swimming training in a kids’ pool. If you don’t have a kiddie pool, you can also buy a special dog pool. They are really not expensive.

However, make sure it is big enough for you and your Maltese to fit in. This model from OceanTeda* has the right size and is also sturdy enough not to be bitten by your Maltese right away.

Fill the pool just a few inches high with water. This way your Maltese can safely get to know the water first and play and run around in it a bit.

This way he will learn that water is not bad. It builds some basic confidence that will come in handy in your later training. It is also important that you go into the pool with him.

Always lead by example. This also applies to the rest of the steps.

Once he gets a little used to the water, you can add more water to the pool. Start by teaching him how to paddle.

Be Patient and Understanding

Your Maltese will not learn to paddle right away, nor will he master it immediately. Therefore, it is important that you be patient with him and be caring and understanding.

Also, always watch for signs that he is uncomfortable or stressed. In this case, stop the training and try again at another time.

If you push him to swim, you may end up doing the opposite and your Maltese may develop a fear of the water. Then learning to swim becomes almost impossible.

Always be close to him while learning to paddle. Do not let him out of your sight. It is best to support him in the beginning so that he gets a feeling of security. Support his body weight to make it easier for him in the beginning.

Your Maltese can already paddle instinctively. You do not have to show him how to do it. But you should have the patience to let him figure it out.

When he feels comfortable, he will eventually make paddling motions with his legs. Continue to support him as you do this so he knows he is safe.

If he is doing well and you feel he knows what he is doing and is enjoying it, you can slowly decrease the propping and let him paddle more and more independently.

Don’t go too fast, though, and if you get the feeling that it’s getting too much for him, prop him up more again or take a break.

Reward Him With Treats

If your Maltese does well, he deserves a reward. Give him a treat when you see progress. Not only is this fair, but it will also help you train him.

Your Maltese associates the reward with swimming, so it takes on a positive meaning for him. He learns that swimming is a good thing.

Also, praise him a lot when he does well. Maltese are very affectionate dogs, and praise from you will do him good.

However, always remember to stop training if your Maltese shows signs that he doesn’t want to do it anymore or that it is getting too much for him.

And don’t overdo the training either. Instead of letting him practice swimming for an hour once, rather do small sessions of 10 minutes, but every day.

This will also reduce the risk of negative effects that swimming can have on your Maltese.

Switch to a Larger Pool

When you feel your Maltese is not afraid of the water and is comfortable with paddling, it’s time to switch to a larger pool.

Again, always be in the water with them. It is best to train in a spot where you can still stand well. Also, stay close to him at all times, and don’t let him out of your sight for a moment.

It is best to buy your Maltese a dog life jacket for even more safety. With this Vivaglory life jacket, your Maltese will be well protected and can continue his swimming training in the pool without danger.

Nevertheless, you must always keep an eye on him. Continue to support him, the body contact with you will give him more security.

If he feels comfortable and swimming in the larger pool works well, you can try it without a vest. The vest should not give him a false sense of security. He also needs to learn that he has to swim by himself.

In any case, always stay close to him and swim with him.

If you swim with him later in another place, however, you should put the life jacket back on. Especially if it is in a busy place like a public pool or lake.

Get Out of the Pool

It is also important that your Maltese learns how to get out of the pool on his own. unfortunately, it is not so rare that dogs drown because they cannot get out of a pool and at some point, their strength weakens.

Guide him to the exit of your pool, and show him where he can get out most easily. However, let him get out of the water independently.

He definitely needs to learn how and where to exit the pool on his own. When he has managed to get out of the pool, praise him profusely and give him a treat. This will reinforce the learning effect.

If your pool contains chlorinated water, be sure to rinse your Maltese thoroughly with fresh, clean water immediately afterward to completely remove the chlorine.

Then dry him off so he doesn’t catch a cold. Depending on the weather, it may also be a good idea to go inside immediately after swimming to avoid exposing the wet coat to the wind.

Where Should a Maltese Swim and Where Not?

Whether your Maltese likes to swim is up to him. But you have to decide for him where he is allowed to swim at all if he wants to swim.

There are several places where a Maltese could swim. Not all of these places are equally suitable. Let’s look at them in detail.

Can Maltese Swim in a Pool?

If you have a pool at home, this is excellent for your Maltese. Pools are probably the best places to get them used to the water and teach them how to swim.

However, it also depends on how warm the water is in the pool, if it is chlorinated, and if he can get out of the pool easily and without help.

If the water in the pool is too cold, your Maltese will not love it very much. He may then also be more likely to get an infection, such as an ear infection.

It is also important that your Maltese can get out of the pool on his own. It may be less important if you are there or teaching him to swim, but if he ever falls into the pool unattended, he should be able to get out without help.

This is also one of the reasons why it makes sense to teach your Maltese to swim. Even though Maltese are instinctively good swimmers, sometimes they need a little practice and guidance to master the proper technique.

If your Maltese has successfully completed his swimming lessons, it won’t be as tricky if he ever falls into the pool. He can then help himself more easily.

Can Maltese Swim in Chlorine Water?

The chlorine concentration in pools is usually not high enough to pose an acute health hazard. However, you should still think twice before letting your Maltese swim in a chlorinated pool.

He might drink from the chlorinated water, which might not be so good for him. Especially not if he drinks large amounts of it.

Also, the chlorine will also attack your Maltese’s beautiful coat. It can become dull if it is exposed to chlorinated water more often.

If your Maltese has been swimming in a chlorinated pool, it is important that you rinse him thoroughly with clean, unchlorinated water afterward. Do not leave out any areas so that the chlorine is completely removed from his coat, eyes, and ears.

Also, make sure that your Maltese drinks enough water afterward. It will never be possible to avoid him drinking some chlorinated water while swimming. By drinking good water afterward, the chlorinated water will be diluted in his stomach and cannot do any harm.

Remember to lock the chlorine tablets away well at all times so that your Maltese can’t get to them. He might, curious as he is, nibble on a chlorine tablet. This would indeed be a serious problem and could have serious health consequences.

Can Maltese Swim in Lakes?

Maltese can also swim in a lake. However, you should never lose sight of him.

There can always be some objects underwater in a lake that he bumps or gets stuck on. This can irritate and frighten him and even cause him to drown.

If you want to let your Maltese swim in a lake, you should also find out beforehand what the water quality is like in the lake.

Many lakes have not-so-good water quality, they are full of germs and dirt. Some may even contain chemicals.

You certainly do not want to swim in such a lake, and your Maltese should not be in it either.

Germ-laden water can not only attack his skin but make your Maltese really sick. As with chlorinated water, he will drink some of the water while swimming in the lake.

In doing so, he will ingest the germs, which can lead to stomach aches and digestive problems, and in the worst cases, nasty infections. While dogs have a more robust digestive system than humans, they are not immune to germs.

So it’s best to only let your Maltese into waters you know and can assess.

Can Maltese Swim in the Ocean?

Maltese, of course, can swim in the ocean. But they should not swim so far out, which they normally would not do by themselves.

You will rather find your Maltese in the surf, with his paws standing in the water. That he really ventures into the ocean and swims off is rather unlikely in most cases.

Nevertheless, you should make sure that he does not swim out. The current in the sea can be unpredictable. Your Maltese may have a natural talent for swimming, but he can’t do anything against a stronger current.

Keep in mind that Maltese are quite small. They have much less strength than a human, and currents can carry away even humans. Your Maltese is also likely to panic in the process, which can quickly cause him to sink and drown.

Waves are also a problem for Maltese due to their small size. A wave can wash a Maltese away with ease. If there are rocks nearby, the wave may smash your Maltese against a rock. I probably don’t need to explain to you why this would not be good.

Therefore, always keep an eye on your Maltese when you are at the seaside. Let him play quietly in the surf, but make sure he doesn’t go too deep into the water. And on a choppy day with lots of waves, it’s best to keep him away from the water.

By the way, the same applies after a swim in the sea as after a swim in chlorinated water: rinse your Maltese thoroughly with fresh, clear water. Make sure that no salt residues remain anywhere on his body or in his fur.

Also, give him plenty of water to drink to compensate for the saltwater he probably drank.

Maltese swimming safety instructions

In this chapter, we would like to summarize some important points concerning the safety of your Maltese while swimming.

  • Watch for signs of exhaustion or unwillingness
  • Do not force him to swim
  • Stop swimming too early rather than too late
  • Never let him out of your sight
  • Always stay in his immediate vicinity
  • Motivate, praise, and reward him
  • Use a dog life jacket
  • Do not stay too long in the water
  • Rinse him off after swimming if he has been swimming in chlorine or salt water
  • Dry his fur quickly
  • Do not let him swim if he has joint problems or a cold

Conclusion: Can Maltese Swim?

Maltese can swim instinctively, they are even good swimmers. However, most Maltese do not like it very much.

Swimming can be a concern for Maltese as they are prone to joint problems such as rheumatism or arthritis. If your Maltese already has problems with this, he should not swim.

If you want to teach your Maltese to swim, it is best to start when he is a puppy. Then he learns best.

Follow the safety tips and always be patient and understanding. Maltese can learn to swim, but they usually need a little time to do so.