Above: Our little man Django (@djangothegent) sporting his doggy life jacket while vacationing with us in Capri, Italy
When our long-haired dachshund Django was 8 months old, Mike and I (Steph) took him hiking at Bear Mountain, a state park an hour's drive north of New York City. Before heading home, we went for a walk around Hessian Lake's 1.4-mile trail loop. Django was off leash and running 10 feet ahead of us the whole time.
We were halfway around Hessian Lake when Django, who had never swum before, calmly walked into Hessian Lake. Mike and I watched with awe and amusement as Django swam out 15 feet, grabbed a stick in his mouth, and swam back to shore.
Since that hike at Hessian Lake, Django has swum countless times in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He has jumped off of a boat into the Mediterranean Sea, fetched sticks out of freezing cold glacier mountain streams in Oregon, and skillfully handled the choppy waters of Italy's Lake Como. Despite his long dachshund body and short, stubby legs, Django is a natural at swimming.
Although Django has proven himself capable in the water many times over, Mike and I still have him wear a doggy life vest for most water activities.
Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, you should absolutely consider using a dog life jacket for most water activities. You know your dog best, but here are several instances where you should definitely throw a life jacket on your dog:
No. Most dogs will start to "doggy paddle" when in water, but this does not mean they can swim or even stay afloat for more than a few seconds.
Many working dogs were bred to swim and retrieve game from the water. Generally speaking, skilled canine swimmers tend to be medium and large dogs with long, muscular legs and water-resistant coats. Some of the most popular 'water dogs' include the chesapeake bay retriever, english setter, golden retriever, irish setter, labrador retriever, newfoundland, portuguese water dog, and standard poodle. Fun fact? Poodles were originally bred in Germany as water retrievers, and the name poodle comes from the German word "pudel" meaning "to splash" in water.
Although Django has proven to be quite the swimmer, dachshunds are one of the more well known breeds that often struggle in the water. Other dog breeds notorious for poor swimming skills are the basset hound, boxer, bulldog, frenchie, pekingese, pug, and boxer. Dogs that cannot swim often have one of these traits: (1) short, stubby legs (2) a large, heavy chest (3) a shortened or flat nose (a.k.a. brachycephalic breed).
Brachycephalic breeds, like frenchies and pugs, are at an anatomical disadvantage in the water. Because of their broad, flat faces, these dogs have a much more difficult time keeping their nose and mouth above water. Combine this difficulty with a heavier body, like bulldogs, and you can understand why some breeds are simply better left on dry land.
There are always exceptions to the rule, and you know your dog best. Play it safe, use a high quality dog life jacket if you have any doubt about your pup's swimming ability, and have fun in the water!
Below: Living the dream! Our little guy Django takes in the sights while boating around Capri Island with Mike and I in Italy.
New York City can be an intimidating place, especially if you're visiting for the first time with your dog. Not sure where to stay next time you visit? There are thousands of hotels in Manhattan alone, and not all are pet-friendly, in a good location, or even well rated!
To make your life easier, Mike and I (Steph) put together a list of the best dog-friendly hotels throughout Manhattan. Our recommended pet-friendly hotels range from trendy to central to luxurious. And although nothing in NYC is cheap, there are a few hotels below that qualify as 'budget'. If you are focused on a particular Manhattan neighborhood, scroll down for our Google Map guide which highlights the location of each dog-friendly hotel.
How do you choose the best dog food for your pup? The endless selection of dog food products with promising marketing claims make the task of selecting dog food incredibly challenging. Do you go with the dog food brand that claims it only uses all-natural ingredients? Is organic better? And what does "all-natural" even mean!?
We're here to help you understand how to choose what is right for your dog. In the following article we discuss how to identify the highest quality dog foods and what to look for in dog food labels. We also clarify the meaning of organic and natural and address recent rumors about grain-free dog food. As always, leave any questions and thoughts in the comments below! We love hearing from you.
Is there any airline that will allow my large dog to travel with us in the cabin? This is a question we at DJANGO Dog Blog get frequently.
An increasing number of dog owners are traveling with their pups, both domestically and internationally. In this article we explore pet travel options for larger dogs - ones that do not fit under a plane seat in an airline-approved pet carrier.