Can French Bulldogs Go Paddle Boarding?

french bulldog on paddleboard

Paddle Boarding with a Frenchie

Most people think French Bulldogs are lazy little potatoes with their compact, round bodies snoring away. It is easy to forget how small dog breeds can also make amazing partners in crime when it’s time for an outdoor adventure. There are even skateboarding French Bulldogs. Now, my Frenchie Fira can’t skateboard but she can paddle board!

Paddle boarding may not be the first activity that comes to mind with your Frenchie (your mind is immediately going to: “can French Bulldogs even swim?“) but the truth is that a properly prepared Frenchie with a great life vest is your perfect companion for a day on the water. 

french bulldog in life vest

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French Bulldogs are just as capable as any other dog breed to learn how to paddle board. Fira and I will show you how.

An Introduction to Paddle Boarding With Your Dog

Stand up paddle boarding, which is also commonly known as SUP, is a water activity where you stand on a flat and steady board and use a paddle to move forward across the surface of the water. 

Going out on a paddle board is really great exercise for humans but did you know can provide essential mental stimulation for your pup? Fira loves looking for fishies and playing with the waves. It keeps her entertained for hours

It is becoming super popular for dog owners to take their pups with them on paddle board adventures, and if this is something you’ve considered doing with your own dog — keep reading this guide. Dogs can make excellent SUP partners, but you can’t just hop on the board with our pup and expect it to go well. Paddle boarding with dogs, and especially with smaller breeds like the Frenchie, takes time and proper prep.

Can All Dog Breeds Paddle Board?

In theory, any healthy dog can learn to go on a paddle board with you, but it doesn’t mean every dog is going to enjoy it. A very hyperactive dog might struggle to sit still while out paddling, and it is not going to be a pleasant experience for anyone. 

With this in mind, not every Frenchie can learn to become an ideal SUP dog, but you know your fur friend better than anyone, and it you think you are both up for the challenge — why not give it a try? Case in point: Weston does not like water sports and becomes anxious. He’ll start scratching and “booping” the board, almost falling off! Fira is must smaller than Weston but she is quite adventurous and loves paddle boarding + kayaking. 

girl and french bulldog at beach

Paddle Boarding with a French Bulldog

One thing to keep in mind if you are a Frenchie parent is that your dog might not be a swimmer. Like other Brachycephalic dogs, the shape of the French Bulldog’s skull and body make swimming difficult. Always have them in a life vest anytime you’re near water. 

Frenchies may be small, but they are highly intelligent dogs and quick learners when they’re in the right mood!


Five Tips to Get Started with Paddle Boarding

Now, it is time to have a look at what you need to get started if you are interested in paddle boarding with your Frenchie! These tips work just as well for any other dog breed too!

1. Pick Your Board

There are both inflatable and solid paddle boards. Inflatable boards are excellent options for dogs! They are sturdy enough to hold you both, and offer excellent traction for your dog’s paws. Another pro for inflatable boards: deflate, fold it up and take it with you anywhere. Some beaches don’t offer rentals, so this would come in handy!

Choose the type of board you feel more comfortable with and your Frenchie is sure to adapt. If your pup has slippery paws, you might even want to get waterproof dog booties with anti-slip soles, so your dog can’t slide off the board as easily.

I just rent a paddle board from wherever we are. The rates have been anywhere from $15 – 30/hr. Maybe one day I’ll buy my own! 

2. Teach Basic Commands

Your dog needs to know a few basic commands before you can safely head out on the water. 

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Up
  • Off


3. Introduce the Paddle Board

If it’s the first time your dog has ever seen a paddle board, it’s a good idea to introduce the board on neutral ground. If you buy a paddle board, keep it out on the floor for a few days so they can sniff and get acquainted to it. Give your pup some treats on the board.

If you rent a paddle board, do the same in the parking lot or somewhere on flat grounds. 

4. Practice Sitting ON the Board

Next, teach your dog to get up on the board and sit down — do this on land first. There is going to be a lot going on once you get in the water, and you want to make sure your dog has the basics down before you get started. When you’re eventually on the water, make sure you are positioned in the middle of your board and your dog is in front of you. 

5. Practice Falling OFF the Board

This part is kind of tricky to practice without being in the water, but what you want is for your Frenchie to know what to do if you fall off. No matter how great your balance is, chances are you and your pup will eventually end up in the water. Don’t make a big deal over your dog falling off. Help your dog see the fun in this inevitable incident by using calming, encouraging words. 

Once, I lost my balance on my paddle board and it completely flipped Fira and I upside down. I grabbed her so fast and practically threw her back on the board. I never yelled or stressed out. I made sure she knew everything was okay and she actually did help calm me down, as I was focused on her the entire time. 

What to Bring?

Getting ready for a paddle boarding trip means packing the right things for you and your dog. Your Frenchie should wear a lifejacket at all times. Make sure you try a few options before your trip and that it is properly fitted and secure. 

french bulldogs in padded life vests

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Fresh water and a portable water bottle for you and your dog are essential, and your pup might even need to wear sunscreen! Being on the water makes the sun and UV rays so much stronger, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your pup’s nose and even ears. Since French Bulldogs have ears that point up, the inner exposed area definitely needs some sunscreen.

When I’m out on the water for hours, I make sure I double up my sunscreen. I wear my usual face sunscreen and then apply an SPF 50 mineral stick across my face, especially on the nose, under eyes and forehead. It might leave a little white cast but it’s 100% worth it!


Bring a Dry Bag to stash all your stuff, including a t-shirt or button-up shirt. UV rays can get strong out there on the water, so it’s good to cover up your shoulders from time to time. If I don’t cover up my shoulders halfway through the paddle boarding, I end up with a sun burn. 

This waterproof Dry Bag keeps all your things safe and dry (it even comes with a waterproof bag for your phone!).

Ta da! Time to Paddle Board with Your Frenchie

That’s it! Taking a Frenchie paddle boarding is an amazing activity that gives the two of you more time to bond. What’s better than spending a day out on the water with your BFF? You can also get a little ab workout while you’re stand up paddling. I’ve found it to be one of the most relaxing activities to do with my dog and for my own mental health and joy.  🙂 

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