When you’re heading out onto the water for a boat trip, you probably pack a life jacket just in case. Even if you’re a good swimmer, the water can get rough and wearing a life jacket provides an extra degree of protection. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Before you hit the water, take a moment to think about your dog. Should you bring a life jacket for him as well?
The idea of a dog life jacket may sound strange at first considering the fact that most dogs are able to swim. After a long day on the water, however, your dog could become tired and that opens up the door to dangerous possibilities. Wearing a life jacket is a simple precaution that could keep your dog safe.
You should also consider the fact that some dogs actually can’t swim. Dogs with very short legs, heavy bodies, and large heads simply aren’t designed for swimming. In fact, some breeds are more likely to sink than to float – these are the dogs for whom wearing a life vest is a necessity rather than a precaution. Keep reading to see our top 10 picks for the best dog life jackets.
Top 10 Picks for the Best Dog Life Jackets – Reviews
#10 Swim Ways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest
The Swim Ways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest may not be as durable or buoyant as some of the other life jackets on this list, but it sure is cute! This life jacket is designed primarily for swimming pools and shallow water, primarily as a backup instead of an actual life preserver. It features a bright blue color with a novelty shark fin on the back.
The Swim Ways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest is a whimsical product and more of a fashion statement than something you’d actually bet your dog’s life on. It is easy to adjust for a snug and secure fit but also features buckles so that, once you adjust it, you can get it on and off pretty easily. It also features a quick-grab handle and a D-ring leash attachment for convenience.
Pros: cute design with novelty shark fin, adjustable with several straps, quick-release buckles make it easy to take on and off, provides some buoyancy for swimming pools and shallow water, bright blue color, made of heavy-duty fabric
Cons: not intended for use as a life preserver, not recommended for large dogs, sizes run small
#9 HAOCHOO Dog Life Jacket
If you’re in the market for a dog life jacket that does more than just keep your dog afloat, consider the HAOCHOO Dog Life Jacket. This life jacket is made from top-notch materials for durability with plenty of padding for buoyancy. What really sets this life jacket apart, however, is the bright colors and whimsical fish-like design. This life jacket is patterned with colored scales and has a tail-like flap on the back.
The HAOCHOO Dog Life Jacket is affordably priced and comes in a variety of colors and designs. It comes in three different sizes from Small to Large as well, with straps and buckles for adjustability. Quick-release buckles make it easy to take off and the reinforced top handle is perfect if you need to grab your dog out of the water. It also features a heavy-duty D-ring leash attachment and reflective strips for nighttime and low-light visibility.
Pros: cute and functional design, bright colors and unique patterns, adjustable for comfort and fit, heavy-duty materials for durability, quick-release buckles, reinforced top handle, D-ring leash attachment, reflective strips for visibility
Cons: sizes may run a little small, may not be buoyant enough for very large dogs
#8 Onemore Choice Camo Pet Life Preserver
If you’re looking for a dog life jacket that is specifically designed for hunting dogs, the Onemore Choice Camo Pet Life Preserver is a great option. Not only is it made from high-quality, durable materials but it features a camouflage pattern as well. This life jacket features three straps for a snug and secure fit, each equipped with a quick-release buckle for easy on and off.
The Onemore Choice Camo Pet Life Preserver features a breathable mesh belly panel for comfort and a reinforced grab handle on the top. It also features a D-ring leash attachment and reflective trim to help with visibility in nighttime or low-light conditions. It comes in five different sizes as well, to accommodate dogs of all breeds.
Pros: excellent choice for hunting dogs, made from heavy-duty materials, camo design good for hunting, reflective trim for visibility, five different sizes, three adjustable straps with quick-release buckles
Cons: camo pattern may be hard to see, not recommended for rough or open water, grab handle and D-ring may not be strong enough for very heavy dogs
#7 PetCee Quick Release Life Jacket for Dogs
While some dogs are born to swim, others are not. Small-breed dogs often need help on the water and the PetCee Quick Release Life Jacket for Dogs is particularly good for small dogs. This life jacket comes in sizes XXS through L so you can choose the one that is the closest fit for your dog then use the adjustable straps to make it fit securely. Once adjusted, just use the quick-release buckles to get the life jacket on and off.
The PetCee Quick Release Life Jacket for Dogs features a bright pink color with a dog-themed pattern. The bright color helps with visibility, though there are also reflective strips to help in nighttime and low-light conditions. The jacket features a front float which helps keep your dog’s head out of the water and the materials from which the jacket is made offer long-lasting durability.
Pros: perfect for small-breed dogs, made from durable materials, available in a wide range of sizes, adjustable straps with quick-release buckles, front float to keep head above water, bright colors
Cons: some dogs dislike the neck float, may not work as well for large breeds, may not be buoyant enough for rough or open water
#6 Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
With five sizes to choose from and a wide range of colors, the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket is an excellent choice if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money. This life jacket is made from durable materials with extra padding to ensure buoyancy but without restricting your dog’s movement. It features a Velcro system around the belly and neck, with adjustable straps and quick-release buckles.
The Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket offers excellent visibility and, with four sizes to choose from, it accommodates most breeds. This life jacket is affordably priced at or under $25 for all sizes and it offers a number of convenient features such as a reinforced top grab handle and a D-ring leash attachment. It may not be the highest quality life jacket on the market, but it is a great product in its price range.
Pros: available in a wide variety of colors, highly affordable for all sizes, reflective trim for visibility, adjustable for snugness and security, top grab handle, D-ring leash attachment, quick-release buckles
Cons: may not be as high-quality as more expensive models, sizing can be tricky
#5 Kurgo Surf ‘n Turf Dog Life Vest
If you’re looking for a life jacket that is comfortable enough for all-day wear, or one that can also be used as an all-purpose jacket, consider the Kurgo Surf ‘n Turf Dog Life Vest. This life vest is a 3-in-1 product that can be used as a life jacket, a rain jacket, or a winter coat. Simply remove the inflatable liner and use the jacket as you like.
As a life vest, the Kurgo Surf ‘n Turf Dog Life Vest works very well. It is best for larger dogs who only need a little bit of support – it may not be buoyant enough for small dogs in rough water. This life jacket features a bright red color with reflective strips for visibility. As for the design, it tapers at the back for a more comfortable fit in larger dogs and it has two sturdy handles.
Pros: works well for larger dogs, 3-in-1 design with removable flotation layer, bright red color and reflective strips, adjustable for a secure fit, comfortable enough for all-day wear, two sturdy handles
Cons: may not be buoyant enough for small dogs or rough water, somewhat expensive
#4 Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket
For an affordably priced dog life jacket that does its job well, you can’t do much better than the Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket. Available in several different sizes, this life jacket is fully adjustable to ensure a snug and secure fit. It comes in several different colors as well, all with reflective details to promote visibility.
In addition to being a budget-friendly option for dog owners, the Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket is also an excellent product. It features heavy-duty Velcro straps around the belly and neck with quick-release buckles for easy on and off. There is a reinforced top handle for safety and a D-ring leash attachment for convenience. It is also lightweight and comfortable for your dog to wear.
Pros: comes in a wide range of sizes, several bright color choices, heavy-duty materials for durability, Velcro fastening system with adjustable straps, quick-release buckles, affordable, comfortable to wear
Cons: straps may wear out sooner with large or heavy dogs, Velcro may get stuck in long fur
#3 EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
Some dogs need more help than others when it comes to staying afloat. If you’re looking for a dog life jacket that offers an added level of buoyancy, the EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device is one to consider. This life jacket has been shown to increase buoyancy by up to 50% and it features adjustable neoprene belly straps for a snug and ergonomic fit.
The EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device comes in bright red, yellow, or green camo and it features reflective details for visibility. It also has easy-to-grab handles for safety as well as a D-ring leash attachment. This life jacket is easy to adjust and, once you have it fitted, you can use the quick-release buckles to easily get your dog in and out of the jacket. Plus, it is designed to encourage a natural swimming position to reduce fatigue when your dog is in the water.
Pros: increases buoyancy by up to 50%, bright colors with reflective designs, made from heavy-duty materials, easy-to-grab handles for safety, D-ring leash attachment, adjustable neoprene straps
Cons: vest is not tapered in the back like other models, may not work as well for very small dogs
#2 Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
Easily one of the most popular dog life jackets on the market, the Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket is also a high-quality choice. This life jacket features a bright orange coloration with two reinforced top handles, an added neck float, and a durable neoprene belly band. It is fully adjustable to ensure a snug and secure fit for safety, with quick-release buckles for convenience.
The Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket comes in sizes ranging from XS to XL, so you can choose the one that best fits your dog and adjust it accordingly. It features reflective details for visibility and an overall attractive design. It also tapers toward the back to allow a more natural swimming position.
Pros: high-quality materials for durability, bright orange color with reflective details, two top grab handles, padded neoprene belly band, adjustable straps and neck flaps, wide range of sizes
Cons: doesn’t have a D-ring attachment on top, fitting can be tricky
#1 Ruffwear K9 Float Coat
Though the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is one of the more expensive dog life jackets on the market, it is also one of the highest quality. Durably constructed with water-friendly, abrasion-resistant webbing, this jacket is comfortable to wear and highly buoyant. It features strategically-placed foam panels that allow for a natural swimming position and it isn’t as stiff or bulky as other models.
The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat features a telescoping neck closure as well as adjustable side straps. Quick-release buckles make it easy to get on and off and the built-in handle is extra-strong. This life jacket accommodates dogs in a wide range of sizes and it comes in three different colors. Overall, it is a great life jacket for long wear and rough water.
Pros: made from heavy-duty materials, designed for all-day comfort, allows for natural swimming position, telescoping neck closure and adjustable straps, quick-release buckles, top grab handle
Cons: very expensive, may not fit broad-chested dogs as well, no neck float for smaller dogs
What Do You Need to Know About Dog Life Jackets?
Some dog breeds are simply born to swim – they are just as comfortable in the water as they are on land. There is a reason, after all, why they call the simplest swimming stroke the dog paddle!
While some dogs can’t get enough of the water, others aren’t quite so comfortable. You also need to realize that swimming is hard work and, if your dog’s feet can’t touch the bottom, he may tire out quickly. When your dog becomes tired, he is at risk for drowning even if he is a strong swimmer.
Having your dog wear a life jacket is a good idea whether you’re hanging out by the lake or taking a boat out onto the water. But how do you choose the right life jacket for your dog? Keep reading to find out.
Which Dogs Need to Wear a Life Jacket?
If you’re planning on spending an extended amount of time near or on the water with your dog, a life jacket is a good idea. But which dogs actually need a life jacket as a matter of safety? Dogs that have poor swimming ability or no swimming skills at all.
Here are some of the types of dogs that can’t swim:
• Brachycephalic Breeds – Dogs with short muzzles and squashed faces are referred to as brachycephalic breeds because they have a combination of anatomical features that affect their ability to breathe normally. These dogs also have trouble swimming because they have to tilt their heads back to stay above water – this causes their bottom to drop, causing them to sink. Breeds fitting this description include pugs, bulldogs, boxers, chihuahuas, and shih tzus.
• Dogs with Large Heads – Some dog breeds were developed to have a head that is proportionately large to the body – examples include English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Staffordshire bull terrier, and American bull terrier. The size and weight of the head may cause the dog to tip forward, making it more difficult for him to keep his head above water.
• Heavy Breeds – Certain breeds of dog are simply heavier and more muscular than others – they may also have more dense bone structure which makes it harder for them to stay afloat. Some of the heaviest dog breeds (in proportion to their size) include mastiffs, bulldogs, and basset hounds.
• Dogs with Short Legs – Even if a dog isn’t overly heavy, he still needs to be able to paddle in order to stay afloat. Dogs with very short legs have a hard time swimming and they may tire out more quickly due to the level of effort involved. Some dogs that fit this description include dachshunds, basset hounds, and some breeds of terrier.
Unfortunately, the only way to find out whether your dog can swim is to give him a chance. The only exception would be if your dog belongs to one of the dog breeds listed above. If you aren’t sure whether your dog will be able to swim or not, try him out in a safe, shallow area of water. In some cases, you may be able to work with your dog to strengthen his swimming ability. Even then, however, a life jacket is always a good precaution to take.
Things to Look for in a Dog Life Jacket
A dog life jacket is simply a flotation device that he can wear. It fits him in a similar way to his walking harness, but it helps keep him afloat on the water. When you’re shopping around for a dog life jacket, here are some things to look for:
• Adjustable – Most dog life jackets come in several sizes, so you can choose the one that is the closest fit for your dog. In order for the life jacket to do its job, however, it needs to fit snugly so you want to find one that is adjustable.
• Buoyant – The whole point of having your dog wear a life jacket is to help him float, so buoyancy is an important factor to consider when shopping for a dog life jacket. Some life jackets have additional padding under the belly for added buoyancy and some have a neck flap to help keep your dog’s head above water.
• Visibility – Even if the life jacket keeps your dog afloat, you still need to be able to find him to make a rescue. Look for a life jacket with bright colors (red or orange are common choices) and reflective trim for low-light and nighttime visibility.
• Handles – In an emergency situation, you need to be able to grab your dog and pull him out of the water – this is where handles come in. Look for a life jacket with a sturdy top grab handle (or two) that will hold strong under your dog’s weight.
• Convenience – To make sure your dog’s life jacket fits snugly and securely, you’ll want to spend some time making the necessary adjustments to the straps and buckles. After that, however, you want to be able to snap him in and out of the vest easily without having to adjust it again the next time.
• Price – You can’t put a price on your dog’s life, but you do need to think about how much you’re willing to spend on a dog life jacket. If you want something that only provides a little backup buoyancy you can go with a cheaper model. If your dog can’t swim at all, you may want to pay more for a life jacket with all the bells and whistles.
As you start shopping around for dog life jackets, you’ll come to find that most models are pretty similar. Take the time to review the list above and decide which features are the most important to you so you have a means of narrowing down the list. From there, you can take a closer look at the top 10 dog life jackets we recommend to decide which is the best option for you and your dog.