Floatation For Furry Friends – Best Dog Life Jackets

Sailing, kayaking or just walking along the shore are fun activities for the whole family, but what about the four-legged members? Anyone who owns a dog knows that many are strong (and often enthusiastic) swimmers so they’re fine around water, right?

Not always. While most dogs can swim or can be taught to swim, they’ll eventually get tired. If you’re on the boat with Fido for the first time and your dog jumps or falls overboard, it could be a while before you can turn and sail back to the rescue. That could end in tragedy unless you have the appropriate safety gear – a doggie life vest.

Flotation devices for dogs are available and they’re not just for emergencies either. If you enjoy kayaking and there’s no space for your dog on board now there’s a solution, because with a life vest for dogs, he can swim along beside you over long distances. Sounds like fun? We think so.

Our 5 Favorite Life Jackets for Dogs

ProductTypeBody GirthSizesColors
Ruffwear K9 Float CoatPremium13" to 42"65
Outward Hound KygenEconomy11" to 44"54
Kurgo Surf N TurfPremium19" to 48"53
EzyDog DFDEconomy11" to 44"51
Paws AboardPremium14" to 45"62

Need help with sizing? Click here ›

 

Dog Life Jacket Reviews

#1 – Ruffwear K9 Float Coat

With seven sizes available you can get a K9 Float Coat to fit just about any dog, from a dachshund to a German shepherd. Each size has a generous 5-6 inch adjustment range too, so if you buy one for your puppy you won’t have to upgrade a few weeks later.

So what’s it like? In short it’s an excellent piece of gear, very well made to a clever design. The Float Coat is a one-piece unit, so there’s no chance of a playful dog managing to wriggle out of it; more importantly there are no dangling straps or buckles that could get dangerously snagged. ruffwear-k9-reviewInstead there’s a simple body with the adjustable collar permanently attached.

The straps that adjust the collar tuck neatly away into an attached pocket. The life jacket itself isn’t bulky but still gives lots of support, thanks to its high quality foam. It also lets your dog float in a natural swimming position to minimize fatigue.

best-dog-life-jacket-reviewsNice detail touches include the sturdy grab handle on the back, which is invaluable for hauling your dog back into the boat – or holding onto and letting him pull your kayak or tube. The Float Coat is available in two shades of yellow, two more of red, and a blue. They all feature reflective trim, making them highly visible (except the blue) in any conditions. This flotation aid is perfect for just about any water-loving dog.

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#2 – Outward Hound Kygen

The Outward Hound is a cheaper option than the K9 Float Coat and isn’t quite as neat – there are quite a few external straps – but it’s available in six sizes and will accommodate almost any size dog, from a 90 pound Labrador right down to the smallest yorkie or pug. It’s one of the best puppy and small dog life jackets around.

The Outward Hound is still a high quality product, too, with a neat under-chin front float to help your dog keep its head above water even in rough conditions. If the K9 is out of your price range, or you have a very small dog, this is a great choice. If you’re not sure if your dog needs to wear a life jacket, it may be a good idea to start with a lower price option such as this one.

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#3 – Kurgo Surf N Turf

The Surf n’ Turf is a multi-purpose jacket with a mid-range price tag. When not being used as a life jacket, the floatation liner may be removed to convert the jacket into a rain coat. It may be also converted into a warm three-season coat when Kurgo’s Wander Dog Coat is inserted into the shell. Two metal D-rings allow for secure leash connections while two transverse handles provide quick and easy control or extraction in the water.

You never have to worry about losing your dog in this jacket, as the trim is highly reflective and color selections include red on red or red on light grey. The Surf n’ Turf lacks floatation material in the belly so that even tired dogs have an easy time staying upright in a current.

Available in five different size ranges with a minimum girth of 14 inches, Kurgo offers a size chart to help you find the perfect fit for your faithful companion. Kurgo also offers a lifetime warranty for their products, provided they are bought new from an authorized seller. Between the versatility and fit of this life jacket, you and your dog will be able to enjoy many fun outings together.

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EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device

Falling midway between the Float Coat and Outward Hound in both price and features, the DFD is a smart, well put together one-piece design with an external adjustment harness. It seems to be very comfortable and uses high quality materials; the shell is tough Cordura, while the adjustment straps are neoprene.

Five sizes cover girths from 19 to 48 inches, so this isn’t ideal for very small dogs, but most owners will find one that fits. The EzyDog DFD is one of the best large dog life jackets available. The DFD also has a strong back grab handle and hi-vis reflective detailing.

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Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggie Life Jacket

Another mid-range one piece design, the Paws Aboard looks quite boxy at first glance. That’s deceptive though, because its foam panels are quite soft and flexible. The collar and belly straps secure with both Velcro and buckles, for security and easy adjustment., and there’s a good grab strap on the back.

Where this jacket shines is on dogs with a large chest; if you have a powerful breed like a boxer or bulldog this will fit them comfortably without restricting their movements. This bright red life jacket with reflective trim is available in 5 sizes.

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Sizing Information

What Size Life Jacket Does My Dog Need?

Measuring your pup for the correct size dog life jacket is pretty simple (sometimes easier said than done). While some manufacturers suggest measuring length, neck, and girth, if you stick to measuring your dog’s girth (chest), you’re going to be fine 99% of the time.

How Do I Measure My Dog’s Chest Girth?

All you need is some measuring tape (flexible tailor’s tape) as well as a helper. Because you need to measure Fido’s chest as he stands, have your helper hold a treat above your dog’s nose to make him stand. Then, place one end of the measuring tape near the top of his spine, right behind his shoulders. Take the tape and wrap it around the widest part of the rib cage and back to the top of his spine where the other end of the tape starts. Do this a couple times and take the average measurement.

Dog Life Jacket Sizing Chart (by Brand)

This chart shows each manufacturer’s recommended girth range for each size of their dog life jackets.

BrandXXSXSSMLXL
Ruffwear13-17"17-22"22-27"27-32"32-36"36-42"
Outward Hound11-15"16-20"21-27"28-32"33-44"
Kurgo14-20"18-25"24-32"30-37"35-45"
EzyDog19-32"21-35"25-39"27-44"30-48"
Paws Aboard11-16"15-19"17-22"21-30"30-37"36-44"

Dog Girth Sizes (by Breed)

It’s obviously best to measure your dog’s girth for most accurate fitment. But when that’s just not possible, here’s a chart showing the approximate chest girth for many common dog breeds of average size.

Dog SizeApprox. GirthBreeds
Tiny13 to 16 inchesHavenese, Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier, Papillon, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Chihuahua
Extra Small16 to 23 inchesBoston Terrier, French Bulldog, Jack Russell Terrier, Pug Pomeranian, Shih-Tzu, Schnauzer, Dachshund
Small23 to 29 inchesBasenji, Beagle, Puggle, Brittany, Coker Spaniel, Corgi, Irish Terrier, Australian Shepherd
Medium29 to 35 inchesBulldog, Basset Hound, Border Collie, Boxer, Chow, Dalmation, Husky, Pit Bull, Poodle, Pointer
Large35 to 39 inchesLabrador, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher
Extra Large39 to 45 inchesSaint Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff

21 Responses to “Floatation For Furry Friends – Best Dog Life Jackets”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Tracy says:

    Which one is best for a Jug, pug cross with Jack Russell he has a big neck.

    • Alex says:

      I’d say the Outward Hound would be a good choice. It’s a lot more flexible which is better for smaller dogs. In your case, the K9 jacket would be way too stiff.

  2. Desiree says:

    I have a beagle/cocker spaniel mix that has a missing right front leg and a highly deformed left front leg. We are trying to find a life vest that will help keep his head afloat….. Any suggestions?

  3. Lisa says:

    Which vest would fit a 55lb Boxer the best???

    • Alex says:

      The Paws Aboard is favorite of Boxer owners since it’s very non-bulky (and inexpensive). The Ruffwear Float Coat also works well for most boxers but the higher quality comes with a higher price.

  4. Rosa says:

    I have a ShihTzu and I’m looking to get him a life jacket since soon he will start his swimming classes. He’s length is 15″, chest 17-18″. What would be the best for him to start?

    • Alex says:

      Really any of the options above would work but if I had to choose, probably the Ruffwear Float Coat or Paws Aboard would be my top choices for a Shih Tzu.

  5. Mary Beth says:

    My son has a 74 pound Golden Retriever, 1 and 1/2 years old. He is in great shape. Which of these vests would likely be the best option for a larger dog? He can swim but is looking to take him kayaking and wants the added protection.

    Thank you!

    • Alex says:

      Both the Ruffwear and Outward Hound are good picks and popular with Goldens and Labs. Even though they are naturally good swimmers, they’ll eventually get tired and realize they can just float there.

  6. Nina Davidson says:

    What choice would be best for 22 lb goldendoodle. Her legs are long but body wt. is low. We are sailing for 3 mos spring 2017. Any suggestions?

  7. Antonia says:

    I have a Pomeranian and terrier mix, weight 16lbs with a girth of 19″. Which one would you recommend?

  8. Angela Kaluzny says:

    I have a 97 lb German Shepherd. Which vest would be the best for him?

  9. america says:

    I have a 4lb chihuahua… what’s the best option for her? i need her to not be able to wiggle out of it or not wiggle paw to neck area where she would clearly be in trouble.

  10. Jan says:

    We have 4 dogs all large. Weighing in at 90, 110, and 2 at 120. What would be best for them.

  11. FYI – the EzyDog one comes in a special version just for very small dogs! You can find it HERE.

  12. Lisa says:

    We have a small female German Short-haired Pointer with a girth 34″, length 22″ and weighs around 40 lbs. She loves to go out with us on our jon boat, which vest would you recommend for her? Thank you!

  13. Anna says:

    I have a Pembroke Corgi that is about 23 lbs.. what would you recommend? Girth is about 19″ and length is about 20″

  14. Bailey says:

    Reading this super late, but I have a french bulldog puppy that will need a life jacket in the next month and a half for our vacation. We are going to Tennessee and will be doing hiking and there will be rivenes and ponds to swim in. She is 12 pounds right now. I’m leaning towards the Float Coat as that’s what most frenchie owners use and love. Right now, she would be an XXS in it, but I’m having trouble buying a $80 life jacket that she is going to grow out of. Does the Ruffwear Float Coat adjust enough to fit her as she grows? Or am I better off buying a cheaper one now and upgrading to the Float Coat when she is closer to full grown? Breeder estimated she will be 18-22 pounds full grown.

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