Can Dogs Hold Their Breath? 2 Surprising Facts

Dogs are tested to see if they can naturally hold their breath and if this ability can be taught to them. We also offer advice on how to safely teach your dog to swim.

So, Can dogs really hold their breath??

Few people know if dogs are able to hold their breath or not, despite the fact that they have an excellent sense of smell and a wide range of hearing. We wonder if dogs are able to hold their breath when burying themselves in a bed of sheets and blankets or jumping into a pool to grab a toy.

Is it Possible for Dogs to Hold Their Breath?

How does a dog breathe under heavy sheets and blankets? If you’ve ever seen your dog snoozing under the covers, you may have wondered. In these cases, they are relying only on the air that is able to pass through the material. They couldn’t possibly sleep and hold their breath at the same time!

When a dog dives under water to retrieve a toy, you can see they are holding their breath. But why do dogs suffocate when they’re trying to breathe? Survival is the only answer.

can dogs hold their breath

Can All Dogs Swim?

To begin, consider a dog’s ability to keep their head above water while swimming. There are several breeds of dog that are excellent swimmers. The Labrador Retriever is one of the greatest swimmers. A few breeds, including Labs, are known as “water dogs” because they are naturally born with webbed feet. As a result, these dogs are frequently used to retrieve wildlife from rivers, lakes, and marshes by hunters because to their natural ability to swim well.

There are some breeds like the Newfoundland that would happily spend the entire day in the water if given the opportunity. Many Newfoundland dogs are trained to assist in the rescue of swimmers and other water-related emergencies. Because of their strong swimming ability, thick coats, and webbed feet, these canines are great for saving the lives of boaters and swimmers in trouble.

The term “dog paddling” refers to a dog’s ability to swim for a short amount of time if compelled to do so. However, not all canines are able to sustain buoyancy for extended periods of time. Swimming is an acquired skill, just like everything else. Some canines, on the other hand, aren’t meant to be in the water.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to swim with their heads above the surface of the water, although they’ll occasionally dive beneath the surface to fetch something.

Can Dogs Dive Underwater?

Dogs are capable of submersion. When it comes to swimming, some dogs may reach depths of 15 feet, depending on their breed and training. In comparison to a non-water dog, retrievers driven by a goal of retrieval are more likely to want to dive underwater.

Do dogs underwater hold their breath?

So, given that many dogs enjoy swimming, it follows that they would be able to hold their breath underwater, as well. They wouldn’t be able to swim well otherwise. A natural defensive mechanism exists in dogs and other animals that helps them maintain their air supply while submerged. When a mammal experiences the mammalian diving reaction, its most fundamental processes such as breathing are overridden. While whales and walruses have been the focus of most research into this phenomenon, it has been seen in all vertebrates.

Mammalian diving responses are explained below: A decrease in oxygen consumption may be tolerated by the body when the face is exposed to cold, including exposure to cold water.

The heart rate is slowed down in this condition.

Peripheral vasoconstriction is the narrowing of blood arteries in the limbs to preserve oxygen for the brain and heart, which are the most oxygen-dependent sections of the body.

This is how a diver’s body adjusts to the higher pressure during a deep dive; it is unlikely to apply to dogs.

Dogs, like other mammals, are unable to breathe underwater because of their mammalian diving reaction. Reflexes of the mammalian species are overridden by the diving response. Does this suggest, however, that dogs are able to hold their breath when submerged? Although it’s tough to prove, this isn’t likely. It’s likely that dogs don’t need to breathe underwater in the same way that they do when they’re on land.

Can dogs hold their breath by choice?

It’s hardly a tremendous jump to assume that dogs can regulate their breathing, given that they can hold their breath. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to verify this notion scientifically. Animals cannot be taught to hold their breath on command. For this reason, there are no research on the issue, thus we don’t know for sure.

Do dogs hold their breath in smoke?

Older studies suggest that inhaling smoke causes apnea (the inability to breathe) in dogs. As a result, if your dog were trapped in a burning building and inhaling smoke, he would temporarily cease breathing. That’s terrible news for anyone who are exposed to smoke, because the delay in breathing was followed by hyperventilation, which is extremely dangerous.

In smoky or emergency settings, dogs may be able to hold their breath—more specifically, they may have a temporary apnea—but not for long. When dogs are exposed to big or tiny amounts of smoke, they are more likely to suffer smoke inhalation injuries. Several studies have shown that dogs can hold their breath, although not necessarily in a controlled manner, and it’s difficult to extrapolate that finding to what dogs would do under water or in other environments.

Can All Dog Breeds Hold Their Breath Underwater?

However, even though dogs have a mammalian diving reflex, this does not indicate that all dogs are able to hold their breath underwater. Dogs of certain breeds are better swimmers than others, but that isn’t always the case.

For dogs raised to swim, underwater survival skills are more likely to be learned. As a few examples, the well-loved Retriever and the Barbet have a natural affinity for this type of hunting. Of course, each dog is unique, so before allowing your dog to go swimming, make careful to verify their ability and comfort level around water.

Bulldogs and Boxers, for example, are not eligible for the swim team. Of course, this is not their fault. They can’t swim properly or safely because of their uneven weight distribution and their stubby snout.

Can You Teach a Dog to Hold Their Breath Underwater?

Dogs can learn to do this on their own with enough repetition, which is great news. If your dog enjoys swimming, allowing him to do so on a regular basis can help teach him to hold his breath before gulping down the water.

The safest option to practice submerging your dog is in a swimming pool until you’re sure they can hold their breath.

How Long Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Underwater?

As you may expect, the solution to this question is short. There are actually a slew of variables at play here. There are several factors involved with a dog’s ability to remain submerged, including as its size, age, and breed type.

When retrieving a toy, a dog will usually only hold his breath for 5 to 8 seconds before gasping for air. This depends on a number of different aspects and can vary from case to situation as previously discussed.

It is more difficult for dogs with short nostrils to breathe underwater than for dogs with long noses, for example.

Basset Hound and Pug breeds, for example, should not be left unattended when swimming owing to their reduced lung capacity, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the body’s tissues.

Breathing difficulties, like as tracheal collapse, are common in these breeds, making it difficult for them to hold their breath for extended periods of time.


The moment has come for you to get in the water with your dog now that you know they can hold their breath even when diving. When it comes to dog paddling, you don’t have to worry about the dangers of swimming underwater while holding your breath, so there’s no need to push it if you’re worried. You should watch your dog closely and be ready to assist them if they go into difficulties if you let them to swim underwater.

Princy Hoang

Leave a Comment