Skip to content

7 Motivators: Can Sheep Swim? (Updated 2024)

Can Sheep Actually Swim

Can Sheep Swim

can sheep swimAs a general rule, yes, sheep can swim when they need to. In times of necessity such as fear or escape from predators and mating; however despite their wool fleece
( becomes Heavy) which makes it so that the animals cannot move easily in water – Sheep are still fully capable swimmers! They’re not good at going long-distance.

Can Sheep Swim

Yes, They can. According to Edward Spevak, Assistant Curator of the Bronx Zoo swimming is instinctive, a life-saving instinct. Sheep are not natural swimmers. In their habitat, they graze. When faced with the alternative of Drowning, they will Swim.

Like most rudiments, their swimming pattern is like a horse trotting. Underwater cameras have recorded their swimming motion. The best way to describe it is they do a Doggie Paddle. Just like us when we are beginning to learn to swim, it is one of the first strokes we learn. Can Sheep Swim

Check Our Amazons Resources on Sheep

The simple answer is yes – sheep can swim. However, their ability to swim is dependent on a number of factors including the size and weight of the sheep relative to its environment (such as water depth) and how far it needs to travel in order to get back onto dry land.

Sheep are not particularly fast swimmers either; they may be able to paddle along at about 0.91 kilometers per hour (0.56 mph), but they are not able to outpace most predators in the water.

can sheep swim
can sheep swim

Do Sheep like water

Sheep like water to drink it but they are not partial to swimming it, they are not like a dog or animal that lives a lot of its life around water. Most of their lives are spent grazing and munching Grass. When Sheep do swim it is usually because they were compelled to do it for an important reason. Sheep do not Like water.

Are Sheep Afraid of Water

Sheep are not afraid of water, But not being good swimmers. They also have large Wool Coats that can make it quite difficult to maneuver when submerged in water. Most of the time you see a sheep swimming it is not for pleasure but it is a matter of necessity. They will not flee from the water they just don’t jump in for Sport or Play.

Swimming Sheep

These Sheep were caught and surrounded by the tide coming in. It was so deep they had to either swim or drown. They swam to shore and then continued Grazing.

They were grazing before the tide came in. As the tidewaters rose, the sheep were forced to swim or drown. They all as a flock following each other swam to shore. Upon arriving they moved to green grass and began dining again.

can sheep swim
how long can sheep be underwater \ can sheep swim

What are some of the Reasons a Sheep will Swim

  • Shepherd – The Sheep will follow the direction of the shepherd and will enter the water, even deep water at his Guidance
  • Sheep Dog – Can put the sheep into the water – to cross a stream of water to get to the other side.
  • Sex – Have separated sheep, ewes and Rams in keeping them apart. Mating is a very strong desire and the Sheep will swim to get to each other on opposite banks.
  • Fear – Sheep are very easily spooked and become frightened easily. Sometimes they will just run – flight, survival instinct – sometimes will flock up. But when trying to get away from a predator they will swim to escape.
  • Necessity
Following Herd Dog Swiming

How Far can Sheep Swim

We could find no world Records of this sport. From the videos we watched saw nothing more than 100 yards. A lot would also hinge on the age and health of sheep and also the length of their wool fleece.

See Our Extensive Guide – 16 Ways to Make Money Sheep Farming

Are Sheep Waterproof

Yes, They Are, and Here is Why. All Animals are waterproof. We and they have sealed skin systems that keep our body parts in and separate from the environment. But also on Sheep’s skin is their hair, called wool. Usually, sheep are raised for their Wool, Meat, or Milk. A Sheep’s wool grows very fast, farmers depending on the breed can harvest around 15lbs a year.

Sheep Secrete a natural oil on their wool called Lanolin – it has waterproof qualities and can feel greasy to the touch. Some of the qualities of Sheep lanolin are

  • Used in Many Skin Care Solutions
  • Natural oil on the sheep’s skin and wool
  • Farmers call it “Wool Grease”, Wool Grease”
  • Makes the animal Waterproof in Rain
  • Resembles the skin oil we produce on our own skin
  • It is removed from the wool after shearing.

Sheep on the farm will stand in the rain and just keep eating. Usually, the weather has to become quite bad for them to go and seek shelter. Their thick wool and waterproof coat keep them dry and warm.

Does Sheep shrink when their wool gets wet

When Wool is sheared from the Sheep it is cleaned and washed removing all the Lanolin from the Wool. That is why wool clothing will shrink if not treated and the Sheep’s wool coat do not shrink when it is wet,

The sheared wool is washed and cleaned for the production of clothing, yarn, and materials. The Lanolin that is removed, separated, and purified its other names are

  • Wool Grease
  • Wool Wax
  • Wool Yoke
Gathering Lanolin from Sheep Wool

When Dry Wool gets wet, it literally absorbs the water. It can increase by 30% in weight when saturated. Because of its structure, you can still feel warm even when it becomes wet.

Are Sheep Killed for Lanolin

No, Sheep are not killed for their Lanolin. Depending on the Breed sheep are generally sheared Once a year, some breeds twice. When the wool is removed it goes through a thorough cleaning process. The Wool, Called the fleeces are sorted by size and fiber thickness.

They are then washed in a multistage process to remove any dirt, feces, grass, and debris. It is during this cleaning process that the lanolin is separated out and then used for other purposes. Biggest bein cosmetic properties.

Hypothermia in Sheep

Hypothermia is when a sheep’s body is losing heat faster than it can produce it.. A sheep’s normal Body Temperature is 100 – 103 degrees it is fine. Sheep have a wool fleece that is very insulated, so that keeps them warm.

But during bitter weather or prolonged exposure to adverse weather and temperatures Sheep can succumb to hypothermia. here are some of the symptoms you might observe if your sheep are succumbing to hypothermia

  • Intense Shivering – then pause and shivering again
  • Becomes lethargic – drowsy and weak
  • Skin becomes cold to the touch
  • Heart Rate Slows Down
  • Blood leaves the sheeps extremities in trying to maintain heat
  • Body temp goes below 95 degrees
  • Cold, Wet, Windy Conditions (Chill Factor)
  • Age of animal – old and young are more susceptible
  • Time since the last shearing is important – how much of a coat do they have.
can sheep swim
can sheep swim?

Sheep Drowning

Marine Rescue have had many instances where they have had to pull many sheep from the water, ponds, lakes, that have drowned, Many things can contribute to this but it does happen quite often some factors are

  • Can they pull themselves out – when sheep have very think wool coat – when they come to the shore they need to be able to get out. They are not climbers so if their exit is not passable – they might not make it
  • Fast Current – with wool, they have a very large underwater mass
  • Not Natural Swimmers – Too Far for them to make it
  • length of wool easily can get caught or hung on items
  • pregnant
Sheep Swimming
Sheep Flock Jumping In

Can Sheep Drown Through Their Anus?

So, can sheep drown through their anus? The answer is no – while drowning is a risk for any animal that finds itself in deep or turbulent water, sheep are not particularly at risk of succumbing to this fate thanks to their ability to swim.

I did a little research on this and it seems that the information is outdated. I could not find any evidence of sheep drowning through their anus because they can’t get back up if they fell in head first! In fact, there are many examples where sheep have been rescued from water with human assistance or even saved by other sheep.

Do Sheep Like water? – Can Sheep Swim?

Sheep are not natural swimmers, but they will often get into the water if it is available. They usually stay near the edge of the water and may even go swimming if they are pushed in.

Some sheep enjoy getting wet and will playfully splash around. However, most sheep prefer to stay on dry land. In fact, too much water can be dangerous for them, as it can cause them to become chilled and even die.


  • Gregory Gaines

    Darlene and I have Lived on a 500 Acre farm, we lived there raising our 3 children and 6 Foster Children. On That farm we and our Children Raised Rabbits Chickens Hogs Cattle Goats Gaines Gregory