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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 not enough space on your kayak for your dog, there’s another solution. 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
|Ruffwear K9 Float Coat||Premium||13" to 42"||6||5|
|Outward Hound Kygen||Economy||11" to 44"||5||4|
|Kurgo Surf N Turf||Premium||19" to 48"||5||3|
|EzyDog DFD||Economy||11" to 44"||5||1|
|Paws Aboard||Premium||14" to 45"||6||2|
Need help with sizing? Click here ›
Dog Life Jacket Reviews
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. Instead 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.
Nice 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.
#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.
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Size||Approx. Girth||Breeds|
|Tiny||13 to 16 inches||Havenese, Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier, Papillon, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Chihuahua|
|Extra Small||16 to 23 inches||Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, Jack Russell Terrier, Pug Pomeranian, Shih-Tzu, Schnauzer, Dachshund|
|Small||23 to 29 inches||Basenji, Beagle, Puggle, Brittany, Coker Spaniel, Corgi, Irish Terrier, Australian Shepherd|
|Medium||29 to 35 inches||Bulldog, Basset Hound, Border Collie, Boxer, Chow, Dalmation, Husky, Pit Bull, Poodle, Pointer|
|Large||35 to 39 inches||Labrador, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher|
|Extra Large||39 to 45 inches||Saint Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff|