Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater? Customer Guide

Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater?

Can dogs hold their breath underwater? Dogs are known to be aquatic animals that love water and they’re often seen swimming in lakes, rivers, and the ocean, but can dogs hold their breath underwater?

As it turns out, this is an interesting question because, unlike humans, dogs do not possess air pockets in their bodies that allow them to stay submerged for long periods of time. Thus, can dogs hold their breath underwater? Yes, but not for very long. Learn more about this topic below.

 Does My Dog Hold His Breath?  

In most cases, if your dog is holding his breath in a certain situation, it’s because he’s learned to associate that scenario with something unpleasant. Many dogs fear bath time, for example.

When they’re submerged in water and can’t see what’s going on around them, they may hold their breath until they’re out of it. This goes for things like having blood drawn at the vet or being left alone in a crate—anything that triggers your pup’s fight-or-flight instinct could result in him holding his breath.

Ultimately, nothing to worry about: Most dogs are naturally great swimmers and can hold their breath longer than humans can, so they’re usually just fine.

 Is it possible for puppies to hold their breath under water?  

Every dog is different, and some can hold their breath underwater for several minutes, while others can only do it for a few seconds. So how long can dogs hold their breath underwater? It’s impossible to say because all dogs are different.

Some dogs—the small ones—have less air in their lungs, so they’re able to hold their breath longer than big dogs. There are other factors that play into how long your pup can hold his or her breath underwater. First, consider your dog’s size. A large breed is going to have more volume of air in its lungs than a smaller breed; therefore, it can hold its breath longer.

Are dogs capable of holding their breath?  

A dog’s body is similar to a human’s, with lungs and a heart that pumps blood throughout. It may be possible for a dog to hold its breath underwater for short periods of time, but it can’t swim without oxygen like seals and other marine mammals.

Understanding how dogs breathe can help explain why they can only hold their breath for so long underwater. To keep your dog healthy and safe around water, follow these tips.

Diving Behavior in Mammals  

In humans, mammals, and birds, a reflex called the mammalian diving response enables us to hold our breath underwater. A response that enables water-dwelling animals to tolerate (and even enjoy) depths of pressure that would otherwise be deadly to humans.

As you might expect from its name, the mammalian diving response is seen in species closely related to mammals, but not in those close to birds. In humans and dolphins, for example, blood vessels constrict (in turn reducing blood flow).

Reducing blood flow conserves oxygen by slowing down your heart rate—which also reduces how much carbon dioxide your body is producing.

Can Dogs Hold Their Breath

Dogs can dive deep, but how deep?  

When we think of how deep dogs can dive, a few things come to mind: Mariana Trench. Portuguese Water Dog. Goldie Hawn in The One and Only, featuring Michael Caine from Hannah and Her Sisters.

But who among us has ever considered whether or not dogs can hold their breath underwater? Believe it or not, there are some very cool aquatic animals lurking right under your nose (or right above it), waiting for you to notice them—and they’re more talented than you might expect!

Just check out King, an Australian Shepherd with quite an impressive set of ears. At only 12 weeks old, King dives headfirst into any body of water he wants—even holding his breath while he leaps off diving boards!

Underwater, what happens if a dog holds their breath too long?  

There are many bad things that can happen to your dog if they hold their breath underwater for too long. After all, dogs are not designed to hold their breath so an extended period of time underwater is dangerous for them.

When a dog goes underwater, it creates two possible issues: Respiratory Issues and Cold Water Shock. Respiratory Issues: If a dog holds its breath underwater, there is an immediate increase in carbon dioxide in its bloodstream.

This results in hyperventilation and then panic from hypoxia (lack of oxygen). Cold Water Shock: Cold water can cause constriction of blood vessels which reduces oxygen supply to vital organs like the heart and brain.

Heart attacks:

There is a common misconception that dogs can hold their breath underwater for hours, but in reality, they will drown if they cannot get out of a pool or pond within 15 minutes.

If you suspect your dog has had an acute episode, call 911 immediately and remember to describe your dog’s symptoms and location. Try to keep him as calm as possible before emergency responders arrive, but do not attempt CPR yourself without first being instructed by emergency personnel.

The 911 operator will ask you about such things as: How long has he been like that? Is he gasping for air or drowning in water? Did he just swallow something unusual?


Having an uncontrolled seizure could lead to brain damage, which would be devastating for your pup. Fortunately, with medication, these can often be controlled so that a dog can hold their breath underwater without damaging themselves.

If you’re concerned about an unruly episode, talk to your vet and see if they have any recommendations or suggestions that might help. A good diet can also make all of the difference in reducing the risk of seizure activity.

There are natural options available that do not involve prescription medication; however, it is best to always consult with a vet before making changes in food or medications for a pet.


If your pet falls into a pond or pool, he might panic and try to swim. Unlike humans, dogs can’t float on their backs, so they could actually drown in as little as three minutes. Do whatever you can to get your dog out of the water safely.

If you can’t reach him, throw something that floats to him—anything will do—and yell for help from another adult. The quicker you act, before your dog gets too distressed, the better his chances of surviving unharmed.


Some dogs can hold their breath for a very long time—but that doesn’t mean they should. While it’s true that some dogs can be trained to go underwater and search for victims of water accidents, such as shipwrecks, pool drownings, and other tragedies, it is highly inadvisable to allow your pet to swim in an area where you cannot supervise them.

Allowing your dog to hold his or her breath for too long could result in inhalation or pulmonary edema—or even a fatal case of respiratory arrest. Therefore, before allowing your dog access to open bodies of water (which could include pools), make sure you fully understand how your pet breathes before allowing him or her near one.


 Does a dog have the potential to drown?  

Yes, it is. Just like humans, dogs can drown in still water if they’re unable to get back to shore. However, dogs can hold their breath underwater for far longer than humans. So if a dog ends up trapped on an ice flow or something similar and has no way of escaping to safety he could potentially be okay just staying submerged until help arrives as long as there’s not another immediate threat (like predators). But being submerged in water is generally dangerous for any pet that doesn’t have gills. In addition to drowning, scuba diving animals are susceptible to both skin and eye damage caused by exposure to cold temperatures and air bubbles.

Is there a breed that is the best swimmer?

Some dogs are naturally better swimmers than others, and if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in or near the water with your dog, you may want to consider a dog that has inherited its parents’ ability to swim. Dog breeds that enjoy swimming for fun or fitness include Labradors, Retrievers, Poodles, Terriers, and Australian Shepherds. Certain crossbreeds like Goldendoodles and Labradors also love water. Terriers are also well known for their ability to stay dry in wet conditions because they have natural oils on their coat that repel water instead of absorbing it.

Can my dog be kept safe around water in the best way?

As you’ve undoubtedly seen, most dogs are natural swimmers. But while they may love to splash in puddles and even paddle around a pool, it doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to tread water. Can dogs hold their breath underwater? Can dogs swim without being able to stay under for long periods of time? There are several types of water situations you should keep an eye on your pet in to prevent them from drowning or becoming too exhausted before finding a way out of any body of water. The first is swimming pools: many pet owners mistakenly believe that their dogs will automatically be able to get themselves out if something were to happen, which isn’t always true.

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