Can Maltipoos swim, or is deep water a danger to them? In this article we examine the swimming prowess of the Maltese and Poodle cross, and what steps owners should take to keep them safe in water.
Can Maltipoos swim?
Maltipoos are often competent swimmers. But they have one parent who loves the water, and one who usually gives it a wide berth. So their enthusiasm and ability might vary a great deal from one individual to the next. It’s a good idea to give all puppies a chance to get used to the water in controlled conditions, as a safety precaution for when they’re older.
Let’s take a closer look at the factors which determine whether a Maltipoo is a strong swimmer.
Can Maltese Dogs Swim?
The Maltese has been a popular companion dog to aristocrats and wealthy merchants since at least 500BC, and possibly for 1000 years before that. Maltese dogs are tiny – the maximum weight permitted for show quality dogs is 7 pounds. Thay have a long, silky coat which grows all the way to the ground if not clipped. Maltese are also one of the brachycephalic dog breeds, which means they have a relatively short muzzle.
Physically, these traits mean that the Maltese is not well adapted for swimming. They are out of their depth in even very shallow water. Their small size does not allow for a lot of muscle mass to swim meaningful distances, or against a current. And their coat quickly soaks up water and gets heavy, making swimming even harder. Furthermore, brachycephalic breeds are more likely to breathe through their mouth during exercise, which increases the risk of a Maltese inhaling water and drowning whilst swimming.
Besides not being built for swimming, most Maltese don’t have much interest in it anyway – swimming is not usually part of a lap dog’s job! So most Maltese dogs are disinterested in swimming for fun, and typically avoid submerging themselves in water.
Can Poodles Swim?
Poodles, on the other hand, are enthusiastic swimmers. Despite their long association with France, Poodles were originally developed in Germany as water retrievers. That is, they would accompany hunters on a duck shoot, and swim into the water to collect birds which had been shot down. To improve their performance in this role, Poodles have a dense, coarse, curly coat, which traps a layer of warm air next to their skin when they swim. They also have webbed paws for paddling more efficiently, and lots of muscle!
Most Maltipoos are bred from Miniature or Toy Poodles, which haven’t historically been used for water retrieving, but share these same physical traits which make them strong swimmers. They are also more likely than the Maltese to inherit a love of water, and gusto for getting wet.
Can A Maltipoo Swim?
Whether or not any specific individual Maltipoo can swim well depends upon which traits they have inherited from their Poodle parent, and which traits they have inherited from their Maltese parent. Important factors include which coat type they have, their overall size, and the length of their muzzle. Even within a single litter, some puppies might be confident and capable swimmers, whilst others struggle.
The significance of f1 and f2 generations
An f1 Maltipoo has one purebred Maltese parent, and one purebred Poodle parent. They can inherit any mix of traits from either parent. So it’s impossible to predict whether they will have a love of water, an innate ability to swim well, neither, or both.
An f2 Maltipoo has one f1 Maltipoo parent, and one purebred Maltese or Poodle parent. Take for example an f2 Maltipoo with one Maltipoo parent and one Miniature Poodle parent. Genetically this isn’t quite as simple as being three quarters Poodle and one quarter Maltese, but they are likely to inherit more Poodle qualities than Maltese qualities. So they might also be a stronger and more enthusiastic swimmer than an f1 cross.
In any Maltipoo generation, the most potentially dangerous combination is a Maltipoo with a Poodle’s affinity for water, but a Maltese’s inability to survive in it. Which is why it’s smart to teach any Maltipoo how to swim, and make sure that any water they’ll have regular access to – like a pool in your backyard – is made safe.
Water Safety For Maltipoos
Before you take on any type of dog, it’s important to think about how you’ll keep them safe around water. Even the most cosmopolitan, city-dwelling dogs will sometimes be around rivers and lakes! Here are some water safety tips for Maltipoos:
- If you have a pool or a pond in your yard, put up a secure fence around it before your puppy comes home.
- Introduce your Maltipoo puppy to different kinds of shallow water as part of their socialization before 12 weeks old. For example puddles, a shallow paddling pool, a running stream, the edge of a lake, and the beach if you live somewhere coastal. Don’t force them to go into the water, but give them praise and treats for examining it, sniffing it, or paddling in it.
- If your Maltipoo has a long coat, and there’s a possibility of them going in water (for example because you’re planning to walk them on the beach, or on a hiking trail near a river), keep it in a tidy puppy clip.
- For very small Maltipoos who will never be strong swimmers, consider buying a life jacket or ‘float coat’ for them.
- Teach them to swim.
How To Teach A Maltipoo To Swim
All dogs have some innate idea of how to swim, so none of them really need teaching the mechanics of it. But some dogs are less confident in water, and more likely to panic if they fall in, than others. This includes the dainty, leisure-loving Maltese. Teaching your Maltipoo confidence in the water improves the odds of them making it safely back to shore if they fall in, or jump in by accident whilst chasing another dog or smaller animal.
Here are some guidelines for teaching a Maltipoo puppy to swim:
- Plan to teach your puppy swimming over lots of short and sweet sessions – find some water you can return to regularly.
- Start in calm, shallow water. Don’t push them to go out of their depth and start swimming, but reward them with lots of treats and praise each time they head a bit further in.
- Once they’re deep enough to paddle with their front legs, support their belly until you can feel them start to kick with their back legs too.
- If they look frightened or anxious, head back to the shallows – always work within their ability. As they practice and gain confidence, the ability will naturally expand.
- Make swimming fun by throwing floating toys into the water to fetch.
Is Swimming Good For Maltipoos?
If your Maltipoo loves to swim, that’s great! Swimming provides:
- A full body workout.
- Mental stimulation and enrichment.
- An opportunity for fun water-based training games, such as retrieving objects from the water.
So it’s a great addition to their schedule.
Does Your Maltipoo Love To Swim?
Is your Maltipoo a waterbaby, or a landlubber? Let us know in the comments box down below!
More Maltipoo Articles
- Teacup Maltipoo – Discover The Mini Maltese Poodle Mix
- Best Food For Maltipoo Puppies, Dogs and Seniors
- Maltipoo Grooming – What You Need To Know To Look After Your Dog
- Maltipoo Names – Will You Find The Perfect One For Your Cute Pup?
- Cockapoo vs Maltipoo – Can You Tell The Difference?