Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Like To Swim?

During the summer months, we humans like to cool down in the shade, or even take a dip in a pool, or nearby lake if it is safe to do so. This is also true for our Cavaliers as they can get hot even though their special coat assists in keeping them cool. So some Cavaliers will take a dip too and some will even begin to swim, but are they doing it out of necessity or do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels like to swim?

As a general rule, if your Cavalier enjoys itself during bathtime, then they will enjoy swimming. However, dogs with smaller muzzles are more prone to inhaling water whilst swimming and therefore you must always supervise your dog in the water to ensure they are safe.

That being said, dogs with even smaller muzzles, such as the pug or the bulldog, are more prone to inhaling water whilst swimming than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and so Cavaliers can swim as their noses protrude further out of the water, but do they like to swim? I dug into this subject a little deeper to find out.

Are Cavaliers Natural Swimmers?

How many humans do you know that have never been swimming, get up one day and then just begin to swim? Thought so, none.

So surely this means that your Cavalier too will have no idea how to automatically swim, and, like humans, will need to be taught correctly? This statement is sort of right and wrong at the same time, we’ve all heard of doggy paddling, well this is apparently a natural instinct in all dogs.

Over the years of evolution, dogs have mastered this practice as they are naturally buoyant on their backs, the same as humans are. Their lungs are in the chest area, and therefore, when they are full of air it tilts them over and so the doggie paddle was born.

So ingrained is this instinct to paddle, that dogs have been known to start paddling before they even touch the water, and this is affectionately known as ‘Air Paddling’. Check out these cute little dogs doing a spot of air paddling.

Young children or adults that have rarely swum before also thrash their arms about in a doggie paddle motion to prevent themselves from going under the water, so it seems that this sort of instinctive swimming behavior is present in humans as well as dogs.

Can All Spaniels Swim?

There are two spaniels that have the word ‘water’ in their name, the American Water Spaniel, and the Irish Water Spaniel. The American breed was bred in Wisconsin specifically to assist with hunting on both land and water and has a curly coat to keep them warm. The Irish breed also has a thick curly coat that repels water, and so is excellent for hunting water birds. You can read more about the different breeds of spaniel here.

Maybe this is why most people, including myself at one point, think that all spaniels can swim, but as I learned through owning a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of my own, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

We have taken our Cavalier, Lady, to many places and tried our very hardest to get her to swim. No formal training was given to her, apart from throwing a stick into the water to try and tempt her, or physically going into the water myself in a poor attempt to entice her in.

Lady is a very special dog, with her own mind, if she doesn’t want to do something, then she won’t. Some would call her stubborn, but I know that she is very clever and knows how to get around you, I just know she is thinking “get out of the water dad, this is futile behavior as I am going nowhere”.

If you are interested in teaching your Cavalier how to swim, instead of splashing around in the water yourself and shouting your dogs’ name in excitement, as I do, then I have found this article informing us all how to teach a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to swim. It’s a great article and will definitely teach you something, so I urge you all to take a look.

So, Do Cavaliers Like The Water?

Lady absolutely loves the water, but not all water. Confused? Then let me explain.

She will quite happily run into a murky lake, pond, or even a puddle in the street that is full of dirt or moss. She will make a bee-line for that squelchy water-sodden mud track, instead of taking the dry and very normal pathway that everyone else chooses. Yet, if you were to provide her with a paddling pool full of clean water, she will run a mile. Lady by name, but not by nature.

Although she adores filthy water, she will only paddle and lets the water go no further than her tummy, as she is not a fan of swimming and has been all of her life. I have been on walks with Lady and seen Cavaliers going crazy to jump into our local lake and have a nice swim to cool off. Lady will just stand at the edge and paddle, but I am grateful that she does, as it keeps her nice and cool.

Many years ago, there had been a lot of rain all week and had caused some flooding around the lake on one of her favorite walks (this isn’t uncommon, as I live in the UK), lady was still very young and was able to walk many miles. The flooding didn’t seem that bad, and so we started to wade through it, until we got to the point of no return and the water got very deep, very quickly.

Lady’s feet were now off the ground and she was swimming, something she had never done before. But then she started to swim off in the direction of the center of the lake, so I quickly lifted her out of the water and carried her to dry ground. She still doesn’t like to swim, even though she can, but at least I know that she is able to swim if the need ever arises.

Keeping Your Cavalier Cool

Even if your Cavvy is unable to swim, just dipping their feet in the water seems to cool down their whole body, just as Lady does. But if your gorgeous girl or beautiful boy doesn’t like any type of water, clean or otherwise, here are some top tips to keep them cool.

  • Keep them in a shaded area, preferably indoors out of direct sunlight
  • Place a fan near where they usually relax
  • Purchase a cooling mat for them to lay down on. This is the one we bought Lady
  • Splash cool water on their feet, ears, and head. Don’t use icy water, as this may cause shock
  • Place a cool damp towel on the lower half of their body. Don’t cover them completely as this will trap in the heat from their bodies when the towel starts to dry out


Some Cavaliers like to swim, and some don’t. Unless you are a surfing dude, a sailor, or a mermaid, then does it really matter? As long as you love, respect, and keep your Cavvy safe, then this is all they need.

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