Not all dogs know how to swim when they are born. Some breeds of dogs take to swimming like ducks, but others will sink without knowing what to do. Swimming is an excellent sport for all dogs since it provides the physical activity. Making them stronger and more agile and gentle on their joints and muscles.
However, it is essential to realize that all dogs struggle to swim for extended periods. This means that if you are swimming with your dog or taking them on a boat, it is important to have a dog life jacket just in case something happens.
How do you select an appropriate safety vest for your dog? This guide can be useful.
When Is A Dog Life Vest Necessary?
In most of the world, it is mandatory to wear a life jacket. Each passenger must have a life jacket in their size accessible. Even if dogs know how to swim, it is a good idea to have them wear a life jacket in case the conditions are not perfect.
Some breeds of dogs were born to swim, while others have to be taught how to swim.
When do you need to use dog floaties? In the pool, at the beach, and other areas where the water is shallow, conditions are controlled. Most dogs will probably be okay without a life jacket, but you should still watch your dog.
If you are on a boat in deep water and it’s not perfect weather, it’s good to have your dog wear a life jacket. You never know what could happen, so it is better to be safe than sorry!
What to Look for In Dog Life Jackets
A life jacket’s principal purpose is to keep you afloat. Dog life jackets usually have polypropylene foam, so the dog stays afloat. The life jacket must be able to hold the weight of the dog. Some have more floaty padding than others. It also depends on where the dog is, either on the back or the belly.
Some dog safety vests have “floating filling” around the neck. This helps keep your dog’s head afloat. Establishing a balance between sufficient buoyancy and sufficient mobility for your dog is essential.
Like you would want bright colors on your safety clothing, you want bright colors on your dog’s life jacket. The best colors are red and yellow because they are the easiest to see in the water. People will be able to see your dog easier if you bring him to a beach or other public place while wearing the jacket.
Some life jackets come with reflective patches or reflective piping. This makes your dog more visible in low visibility conditions, like at dusk or when it’s dark.
A dog life vest must be comfortable as well as safe. This is so the dog will enjoy swimming in it. There are many life jackets, so it is important to find the one that fits your dog best and allows them to move around most freely. Changing the jacket’s straps is the best method for achieving this. A well-fitting jacket will always be more comfortable than one that doesn’t fit well.
Every dog life jacket must include a top handle. If necessary, you will use this handle to raise your dog out of the water. Some vests will have one handle, while others will have two.
These handles are important – they must be strong and easy to grab. If your dog is heavier, you might want to look for a life jacket with two handles, making lifting your dog easier.
8 Best Dog Life Jackets
Without keeping you any further, here are the best dog life vests. They are colorful and cute – and most importantly, they ensure your dog’s safety.
1. Dog Nation Life Jacket For Dogs
Dog Nation says it is important to be safe for water and dogs. With the Dog Nation life jacket, you will not have to worry about your dog’s safety when in the water.
This life jacket comes in 7 different sizes, from XX-Small to XX-Large. This means that every dog is a perfect size, regardless of weight. The vest can also be adjusted to fit your dog perfectly by using two buckles under their stomach and one on their chest.
The life jacket comes in 7 different colors and matches every coat type. It is constructed of 400D nylon and Ripstop material, with an internal flotation layer. This removable layer allows you to wear this vest as a raincoat during spring and fall showers. The life jacket will become stained with time but have no fear. It can be machine-washed and air-dried on the delicate cycle. It is in perfect condition.
Reflective trim on a dog life jacket will help you see your dog even at night. A large handle on the back of the life jacket can help you get your dog out of the water quickly if needed. Additionally, the garment was tested in Australian surf conditions. It will be perfect for enjoying water adventures with your best friend.
- Bright colored with reflective trims for high visibility
- Doubles as a raincoat
- Large handles for easy control
- Comes in 7 different sizes
- Tested in Australian surf conditions
- Wide-necked dogs might need a size up.
2. Outward Hound Standley High-Performance Dog Life Jacket
Some dogs are awful swimmers. They swim like seals, and life jackets would only hinder their speed. Therefore, Outward Hound devised a life vest for proficient swimmers.
This life jacket is named after a lake in Colorado. The open design of this life jacket lets your dog move around easily in the water. The life jacket comes in different sizes to fit dogs weighing 2 to 45 kg. Outward Hound also makes this life jacket in one color – turquoise and lime green.
This life jacket is made of extra-rugged ripstop material that will last long. It has double handles to help you control your dog in difficult situations and lift them out of the water if needed. The sternum support prevents your dog’s armpits from hurting if you have to lift them many times.
The bellyband is fashioned from a mesh material that allows water to drain swiftly. This implies that your dog will dry quicker. The jacket also includes a leash attachment, which is a lovely touch. If your dog continues to chase birds along the beach, you can swiftly leash him.
- Lightweight and resilient
- The open layout permits unrestricted movement.
- Mesh fabric enables the jacket to dry quickly.
- One-color option
- Straps can loosen over time
3. EzyDog DFD Dog Life Jacket
This life jacket is called a DFD, which stands for Dog Flotation Device. It is made with advanced techniques to make it more buoyant than other life jackets. The jacket is also comfortable and will not restrict your dog’s movement.
The DFD (Dog Flotation Device) is made out of heavy-duty polyester. It comes in two colors – orange and red. The reflective piping on the sides makes it easier to see your dog at night. You can find the right size for any dog, whether you have a Poodle or a Great Dane. The straps allow you to customize the vest to fit your dog properly. Putting on and taking off the life jacket is easy – just place it over your dog’s head, buckle the straps around his stomach, and you’re done!
The vest features a handle on the back for guiding Fido into and out of the water. There is also a high-strength nylon D-buckle that you can use to attach a leash if needed. The vest also has a small zip storage pocket on the backside. We’re unsure what you would put in there since the dog will get wet, but it’s a nice detail.
- The garment keeps the dog extremely erect in the water.
- Convenient and lightweight
- It can be used to attach the leash.
- Zippered storage pocket can be practical.
- Straps under the belly aren’t padded.
4. EzyDog DFD X2 Boost Dog Life Jacket
The EzyDog DFD life vest is their most popular flotation vest. In addition, they have recently developed a new model, the DFD x2 Boost. This newer version has not yet received any reviews, but we believe it is one of the best available dog life vests.
This life jacket is designed to make your dog more comfortable. The unique design gently wraps around your dog’s body, and the buoyant collar part will keep them safe and free to move. We liked that the collar doesn’t put pressure on any awkward points.
You can adjust this part by tightening it as needed on the back. The buoyant foam is included around the neck, around the belly, and on the back. Despite being rather small, the vest floats exceptionally well.
The back of this vest has a handle that is easy to grab and lift out of the water. The handle is also comfortable for you and your dog. It fits neatly into the vest’s profile, so your dog does not have to swim around with giant handles.
The EzyDog DFD x2 Boost is more expensive than the basic DFD vest, but it is worth it. The extra money pays off for dogs who spend much time in the water. If you only go swimming or boating with your dog every once in a while, you might not need it. Still, this vest’s added comfort is worth it if you do it often.
- Streamlined ergonomic design
- Comfortable neoprene handle
- D-ring on top
- Reflective piping for better visibility
- On the expensive side
5. Outward Hound Ripstop Life Jacket
This life jacket from Outward Hound is perfect for keeping your dog safe and comfortable at the beach or coast. It comes in five different sizes to fit any dog, regardless of its breed or size. If your dog’s girth is between sizes, choose the larger one. You can adjust the straps and belly band later to ensure a proper fit.
The life jacket has two large top handles that help pull your dog out of the water. The vest is fastened with two thick straps around the dog’s belly. The straps are attached with velcro and clips, which helps keep them in place.
Another good thing about this life jacket is the front neck float. This helps your dog keep his head above water while paddling, making it easier. This is convenient because water activities can be tiring, especially if carrying something in his muzzle.
The bright orange color of this life jacket will help you see your dog, even if they are at the side of your vision. The reflective piping will also help you see them during the night. The ripstop material will let your dog float safely in the water but also lets them move around on land.
- Front neck float for extra safety
- High visibility during the night
- Comes in 5 sizes
- Only comes in orange.
6. Queenmore Ripstop Life Jacket Fish Style Floatation Vest Grey Shark
This life jacket from Queenmore will make your dog look adorable. It has two color options – gray and pink. The gray one is more like a shark, and the pink one is more for girls. The vest comes in six sizes, from XS to XXL. According to the manufacturer, the largest size fits dogs up to 55kg, so even very large dogs can use it.
This life jacket is made out of materials that are resistant to tearing. It has a mesh underbelly lining so that it will dry quickly. The straps are adjustable, and there is Velcro tape under the neck, belly, and waist to ensure it fits your pet perfectly. This is important because pets come in all shapes and sizes. The same vest shape would not fit a Bulldog and a Whippet the same way.
The life jacket has a handle on the back that you can use to pull your dog. The rubber on the jacket won’t wear off. It also has a D-ring hook if you need to put your dog on a leash. The bright colors and reflective accents will help you see your dog swimming underwater or in lower visibility.
- Adorable design
- Tear-resistant and breathable material
- Reinforced back handle
- Wide range of sizes
- Not as buoyant as other life jackets on the list
7. Kong Aqua Float
The Kong Aqua Float is a life jacket for dogs made with high-quality materials. It will guarantee the safety of your dog while swimming.
This life vest is made with high-quality materials and features a clever design and strong stitching. It has multiple layers of foam to ensure your dog’s safety and a natural swimming position.
To put this life vest on your dog, you’ll need to buckle up 3 straps. There is one strap over the chest and 2 straps around the belly. This will make sure that the life vest does not come off. The straps are adjustable, so you can make them fit well.
On the back of this life vest, you will find a handle that is easy to grasp. The handle is strong and also easy to see because it is red. There is a D-ring on top, so you can use this vest as a harness for short walks if you need to.
- The multilayered buoyant foam supports a natural swimming position
- Reflective parts and bright colors for better visibility
- A large, strong handle on top
- A bit bulky
8. Froshine Dog Life Jacket
This life jacket from Froshine is really cute. It’s pink, making your dog look like a mermaid! Even better, dogs don’t need a good fashion sense to enjoy this jacket – it’s also really comfortable.
This safety vest for dogs is similar to most standard life jackets. It wraps around the back and has two straps around it with buckles on the stomach. A wide strap is also filled with buoyant foam around the dog’s chest. This helps ensure that the jacket stays on and also helps keep the dog’s head on top.
This jacket also comes with a mermaid tail. The tail is unnecessary but cute and does not bother the dog. It will just float at the back without hindering your dog’s movements. This jacket is well-made and also affordable. The mermaid part is just a bonus!
- Sturdy and durable
- The bright pink color enhances safety
- Not the best choice for large dogs
The Best Dog Life Vests: Keeping Your Canine Afloat!
Of all the life jackets on the market, we’ve identified the ones detailed below as some of the best. Any of them should help keep your doggo safer while enjoying the water — just be sure to pick one that suits your and your pet’s needs best.
Best Dog Life Vests
1. Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Dog Life Jacket: Best for Kayakers and Active Water Dogs
Highest-rated life jacket. This high-end canine life jacket is made of abrasion-resistant material. It features reflective trim, belly flotation support, and top handles to lift your dog out of the water when necessary.
About: The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is one of the highest-rated dog life jackets, thanks to its extreme quality and reliability. While it comes at a higher price point, it’s well merited, as this canine life vest is top-notch quality.
This vest comes with strategically-placed closed cell foam panels, which lets your dog stay in his natural swimming position. The vest’s telescoping neck closure is adjustable, which helps allow for natural and comfortable canine movement.
You’ll note that this jacket has additional flotation beneath your puppy’s belly to ensure he stays afloat. There are also no exposed straps or buckles to avoid any chance of dangerous snagging. Lastly, we love that this vest has reflective trim — this will ensure you can easily see your dog in the water, even at dusk or when waves get a bit choppy.
Colors & Sizes
The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is available in several sizes, from xx-small to x-large.
The Float Coat comes in several fun colors:
- Dark Red
- Bright Red
- Blue with Pink Highlights
Owners were impressed with the quality of the material and the extra flotation underneath the dog’s belly to keep the dog afloat. Many buyers were also very pleased that this vest is designed to have no exposed straps or buckles.
This dog life vest is at a higher price point than most others. Still, this jacket earns its price.
2. Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket: Best High-quality, Budget-friendly Option
Best budget-friendly pick. The Outward Hound life jacket has a comfortable neoprene belly band and a fully adjustable chest and neck. And dual top handles for hoisting your puppy back into the boat.
About: The Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket is another popular dog life vest manufactured by the reputable and trustworthy Outward Hound brand.
The quick-release buckles mean that the vest is easy to put on and take off, plus this vest also uses a front float feature to help your dog keep his head above the water.
It’s also worth noting that the model featured here is a newer model with improved quality. So some older reviews you find of the Outward Hound life jacket won’t be accurate.
Colors & Sizes
The Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket is available in several sizes, from xx-small to x-large.
The Granby Life Jacket comes in several fun colors:
- Clownfish Pattern
- Considering the huge number of satisfied customers and extremely affordable prices, we recommend the Outward Hound dog life vest as a smart pick.
- Some buyers have found the suitable sizes inaccurate, requiring the return and re-purchase of different sizes.
3. HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket: Most Style/design Options
Most colorful options. Made of top-notch materials. The HAOCOO Life Jacket comes in several colors or styles — from simple to silly — to suit your dog’s personality while keeping him safe.
About: The HAOCOO Life Jacket is a high-quality life preserver that is available in a wide array of colors and styles. You can select a fairly standard life jacket shape if your pup prefers to keep things low-key. Or you could choose from several fun and silly styles that resemble mermaids, sharks, or lobsters. There are 15 different options in total.
Each style features top-notch materials, as they’re all made from high-grade polyester oxford and nylon fabric, mesh fabric, and pearl cotton foam. Two belly straps and a chest strap (each of which features a quick-release clip) will keep the vest snuggly attached to your dog. Reflective strips are included to ensure your dog is easy to see.
A handle is also included on the back to make it easy to lift or help your dog into or out of the water. A D-ring is situated on the back to give you a place to attach a leash or tether. The life jacket comes in seven different sizes:
Colors & Sizes
The HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket is available in several sizes, from xx-small to xx-large.
Double Extra Small:
- Body Length: 5.9 inches
- Neck Girth: 7.5-10.6 inches
- Body Girth: 11.0-14.6 inches
- Weight: 3.5oz
- Body Length: 8.3 inches
- Neck Girth: 9.8-13.8 inches
- Body Girth: 11.8-16.5 inches
- Weight: 5.3oz
- Body Length: 10.2 inches
- Neck Girth: 14.2-18.5 inches
- Body Girth: 16.1-20.9 inches
- Weight: 5.6oz
- Body Length: 11.8 inches
- Neck Girth: 15.7-18.9 inches
- Body Girth: 16.1-24.8 inches
- Weight: 7.1oz
- Body Length: 13.8 inches
- Neck Girth: 16.5-21.3 inches
- Body Girth: 19.7-29.5 inches
- Weight: 8.8oz
- Body Length: 17.7 inches
- Neck Girth: 19.7-28.0 inches
- Body Girth: 27.6-37.4 inches
- Weight: 12.3oz
Double Extra Large:
- Body Length: 18.9 inches
- Neck Girth: 24.4-35.4 inches
- Body Girth: 34.6-48.8 inches
- Weight: 15.9oz
The HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket comes in a variety of color patterns and designs:
- Blue standard
- Blue Polka-Dot standard
- Camouflage standard
- Pink Bone Pattern
- Pink Polka-Dot
- Pink Mermaid
- Grey Shark
- The HAOCOO Life Jacket is a great option for many dogs, as it comes in various sizes, styles, and colors. Most owners reported it was well made, plenty buoyant, and good value for your dollar.
- There aren’t any obvious shortcomings, although a few owners experienced sizing issues. It is probably wise to err on the large side when picking your size, as several owners complained that the size they chose was too small for their pup.
4. Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket: Best Return Policy for Problem-free Purchases
Best return policy. Complete with a hoisting handle and leash clip, this canine life jacket provides great features, quality, and a reasonable price tag.
About: The Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket comes in several different sizes depending on your dog and is quite the steal for a budget-friendly canine water vest.
We love that the Paws Aboard Canine Life Jacket provides a heavy-duty velcro fastening system for your dog’s belly and neck, along with adjustable straps. The flotation vest also has a top handle for pulling your dog up out of the water.
Users also report that the product exchange system works smoothly and effortlessly, so you don’t need to stress too much if you order the wrong size.
Colors & Sizes
The Paws Aboard Canine Life Jacket is available in several sizes, from xx-small to large.
The Paws Aboard Canine Life Jacket comes in several fun colors:
- Blue & Yellow
- Grey Camo
- Neon Yellow
- Pink & Grey Polka-Dot
- Red Lifeguard
- White Nautical
- Pink & White Polka-Dot
- Customers like that this vest is lightweight, easy to get on and off, and a breeze to clean. It’s solid quality at a reasonable price.
- While many customers feel very satisfied with the product, a few have mentioned the straps tearing with larger, heavier dogs. The Velcro belly straps may also not be ideal for breeds with lots of furs, as fur can get caught in the Velcro.
5. Kurgo Surf n Turf Dog Life Vest: Best All-in-one Jacket for Shallow Waters
All-in-one jacket for shallow swimming. The Kurgo Life Vest features a removable floating layer, two handles for lifting up your dog, and two metal D-rings for leash connections.
About: The Kurgo Surf n Turf Coat is an all-in-one jacket, serving as a life vest and a three-season shell jacket. The flotation layer can be removed to double as a waterproof jacket for your canine. That’s right, this flotation vest can also function as a rain jacket or light autumn coat!
The vest comes with reflective trim for added visibility. This is a fantastic feature for owners who intend to remove the flotation layers and use it as a jacket during nighttime walks.
It also mentions that all Kurgo products are backed with a lifetime warranty, so you can ensure this vest will last a lifetime. While this dog PFD may be appropriate for shallow waters, we suggest other life vests for heavier seas.
Colors & Sizes
- The Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Life Jacket is available in several sizes, from x-small to large.
- This life jacket is only available in one color (red).
- We love how many features this life vest comes with, including the handle, reflective trim, and dual D-rings. Most owners who tried the vest found that it worked as they’d hoped, fit well, and was durable.
A small number of owners found this life jacket to be too bulky. We’d also like it to be available in multiple colors, but that’s a minor issue.
6. PetCee Quick Release Life Jacket for Dogs: Cutest Fun & Silly Designs
Affordable life jacket with chin support. Aside from being too cute for words, the PetCee Life Jacket is a rugged and durable vest that’s still comfortable for your dog to wear.
About: The PetCee Quick-Release Life Jacket is a cute, affordable life jacket for dogs. It has a pretty nifty feature: An extra float that rests under your dog’s chin. This helps poor swimmers to keep their heads above the surface while swimming around.
The PetCee Life Jacket relies on three different straps (two that wrap around your dog’s belly and one that wraps around his chest) to stay in place. Each strap features a quick-release buckle making it easy to put on or take off.
Reflective trim is included with all color options to help make it easier to see your dog in low light. A D-ring is also located on the back of the life jacket, giving you an easy way to attach a leash to your dog.
Colors & Sizes
The PetCee Life Jacket is available in several sizes, from x-small to x-large.
Chest / Neck / Back Length
- Chest 11.8 – 15.7 inches
- Neck 6.7 – 9.84 inches
- Back Length 7.87 inches
- Chest 16.1 – 18.9 inches
- Neck 11.8 – 15 inches
- Back Length 9.84 inches
- Chest 19.7 – 22.3 inches
- Neck 15.7 – 16.9 inches
- Back Length 11.8 inches
- Chest 21.7 – 27.6 inches
- Neck 15 – 18.9 inches
- Back Length 13.8 inches
- Chest 28.3 – 37.4 inches
- Neck 18.9 – 22.3 inches
- Back Length 17.7 inches
You can get the PetCee Life Jacket in any of five different versions.
This includes “normal” versions in blue or pink, as well as versions that come with an attached shark fin (black or blue) or mermaid tail (pink).
- The PetCee Quick-Release Life Jacket is a great option for dogs with trouble keeping their head above water, thanks to the included chin float. It is also very affordable while still being well made. Additionally, you can get this jacket in several fun styles and color patterns.
- A few owners reported that their dogs did not like the chin float. Additionally, this isn’t the most buoyant life jacket on the market. So it is probably best to try it out in the shallows and see how it works for your dog before heading to deeper waters.
7. Onemore Choice Camo Pet Life Preserver: Best for Hunting and Bird-retrieving Dogs
Heavy-duty life jacket. The Onemore Choice Life Preserver provides a comfortable yet snug fit and features a camouflage print to keep your canine clandestine.
About: The Onemore Choice Camo Life Preserver is a heavy-duty life jacket with a unique camouflage print. This makes it a great choice for fowl-retrieving dogs, as it’ll help keep your dog hidden from the ducks or geese you’re hunting.
This life preserver includes three straps (one that goes around the chest and two that wrap around your dog’s belly). Each features a quick-release buckle to make it easy to put on or take off. The belly portion of the vest is made from breathable mesh to ensure your dog remains comfortable while wearing it.
A handle is stitched to the back, making it easy to help your dog get into or out of the water, and it also features a D-ring on the back so that you can clip your dog’s leash to the vest. Reflective trim is attached to the vest to make your dog more visible in low-light conditions.
Colors & Sizes
The Onemore Choice Camo Pet Life Preserver is available in several sizes, from x-small to x-large.
The Onemore Choice Camo Pet Life Preserver only comes in one color pattern (camouflage).
- This is a fantastic choice for hunting dogs, given its camouflage appearance. Still, it will also work for dogs who just want to swim at the local pool. The included handle and D-ring leash attachment are both nice features, and the breathable mesh appears to help keep dogs more comfortable while wearing it.
- Some owners complained that the handle and D-ring would break if too much force was applied to them, so this jacket is probably not great for heavy dogs or those who pull on their leash. A few owners also mentioned that they needed to cut away some material to prevent the vest from rubbing their dog’s skin in an area or two.
No matter what size life jacket you are looking for, either for an adult dog or a puppy, the suggestions from the list above should work. Just make sure to find the right size for your pet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Dog Life Vest
How Do I Choose a Life Jacket for My Dog?
One life jacket is typically lighter and covers less of your dog. This type is easier for casual swimming. However, bright colors or life jackets with a reflective strip make it easier to spot your dog in the water.
Does My Dog Need a Swim Vest?
If you are swimming in rough currents, strong waves, or deep water with your dog, putting them in a life jacket is good. This will help keep them safe and ensure they don’t get tuckered out. You should also put your dog in a life jacket when boating, as it will help if there is ever an emergency and you need to pull them back on board.
How Do You Measure a Dog for a Life Vest?
To find out what size life vest your dog needs, you will need to measure their chest and neck. Use a ruler or tape measure to measure the length of the string, and then write down the measurement in centimeters or inches. You must also measure the neck circumference at your dog’s neck base.
Do Life Vests Work?
A life jacket is an effective tool to help you stay afloat if you are in the water. It works because it is less dense than water, creating lift and buoyancy.
Are Life Vests Necessary?
Federal law requires that you have a life jacket for each person on your boat. This includes canoes and kayaks. Boats 16 feet or longer must also have a throwable ring buoy.
What Is a Dog Vest for?
A vest harness is a good idea if a pet owner is worried about your dog’s comfort and safety. A harness will give you more security and control than just using a collar on your pet. However, some harnesses with thin straps may chafe or irritate your pet’s skin.
Do Pitbulls Need Life Jackets?
Always make sure your dog is wearing a life jacket when near water. This includes playing on the shore, riding in a boat, or swimming. Pit bulls have muscular chests, so be sure to get a life jacket that fits snugly and will not fall off.
How Should a Life Vest Fit?
Your life jacket should fit you snugly without it being too tight. The Coast Guard calls this “comfortably snug.” If you can’t make your life jacket fit snugly, it’s too big. If you can’t put it on and fasten it comfortably, it’s too small.
Do Labs Need Life Jackets?
Swimming is a great way to exercise large dogs. It is good for their legs and hip joints, common problem areas for breeds like Labradors. However, they need a big jacket to keep them afloat.