Our Top 3 Picks
I know what you’re thinking, ‘Dogs are great swimmers, why do they need life jackets?’ The answer is simple. Just because you are a great swimmer, that doesn’t mean you are immune to natural disasters, or just simply fatigue from swimming after a lengthy period.
Dogs are in the same boat and need life jackets for the same reasons the average person would. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but fear not – we’ve done the research for you, and found the best one there is on the market!
Doggie life jackets can be the difference between your pooch coming home from the water or being lost at sea. If you’re the type of person who enjoys boat trips or ventures to the lake with your furry friend, then a good life jacket for your dog is a smart investment.
Related: Pool Floats for Dogs.
- Certified content. This article has been fact-checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.
Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Notes from our DVM, Sara Ochoa: “Life jackets are a must-have if your pet spends any time on the lake or in the water. These jackets help make sure dogs stay safe when swimming.”
View The Best Life Jackets Below
1. Vivaglory Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
The Vivaglory life jacket is made with materials that have passed the CA65 standard (which certifies its material safety). With this feature and the sports-style design, this life vest takes the fit, comfort, and safety of your canine companion into top consideration. Coming in the standard sizes that range from XS to XL, it is made to fit dogs of all shapes and sizes.
This style comes with a smart neck design, which is strategically placed so it doesn’t hinder your dog’s movements while giving them enough comfort. To further enhance the safety side of things, this floatation vest comes with reflective trim, so your dog is visible at all times under any level of light. A center-weighted handle lies vertically on your dog’s back, making it easier for you to lift or grab your dog in case of an emergency.
+ Doesn’t restrict movement
+ Great floatation
+ Extra security with adjustable straps
+ D ring for easy leash attachment
Why We Like It – This product choice offers not only superior comfort and mobility for your dog but also the best security. With the reflective detailing, bright colors and 50% more floatation material, it not only guarantees increased safety but also ensures that your best friend will be the most stylish water dog around!
2. RUFFWEAR – K-9 Float Coat for Dogs
What are the important characteristics of a good life jacket? Well, one that has good buoyancy to ensure a proper float, bright color so you can spot your pup while out in large bodies of water, handles just in case, and a good size and fit for your dog. The RuffWear-K9 Float Coat has all of these must-haves plus a bonus, the reflective material! This top rated, 5-star float coat is very durable and well made.
It comes in a variety of sizes ranging from XX-small to extra large and has buckles underneath for an even more secure fit. There are cutouts at the shoulders for added mobility, and the submarine style neck opening allows the pup’s head to stay above water while in the swimming, making this coat a perfect fit for your dog.
+ Bright color for easy view of your pup
+ Good buoyancy
+ Reflective trim
+ Allows for good mobility
Why We Like It – The RuffWear-K9 float Coat covers all the bases and then some. While disasters are something a pet parent never wants to think about, it is important to be prepared for anything and everything. It is our duty as fur moms and dads to protect our fur babies, and this is one of the ways we can do that
3. Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
The Outward Dog Life Jacket is the top-rated doggie life vest on Amazon. It comes in five sizes guaranteed to fit (XS-XL) and the jacket itself is quite easy to manage, with three standard buckles on the underbelly of the dog. The reflective bright colors of the jacket design help to increase the visibility of your dog while they paddle around in the water.
The handles at the top of the jacket allow for emergency rescue to keep your pooches safe! This amazing life jacket for your best bud is designed with dual rescue handles, high-quality reflective material, a front neck float to keep your bud’s head above the water, and adjustable straps with a neoprene belly band for a comfortable and reliable fit.
+ Rescue handles
+ Highly reflective material
+ Front neck float
+ Perfect fit
Why We Like It – Next time you’re heading out to the water and your best bud wants to come along, you won’t have to worry about the what ifs and the gnarly waves when he is suited up in the Outward Hound Life Jacket. Simply adjust the straps, click the three buckles, and send him off to play with a kiss on the head!
4. WOpet Shark Fin Dog Life Jacket
We’ve seen ergonomic designs and brightly colored jackets above to ensure safety. Now we have one that might strike fear into the hearts of nearby swimmers. Introducing the WOpet Shark Fin Dog Life Jacket! The cute shark fin is an adorable extra touch added for uniqueness. For safety measures, it has reflective trim and accents and comes in a pink mermaid design if you want a girlier one for your baby girl.
The handle on top allows you to take control in case of an emergency. Adjustable nylon straps on the side that wrap under your pooch’s belly and the quick-release buckles guarantee a snug fit for your dog.
+ Reflective accents
+ Top handle
+ Adjustable nylon straps
+ Durable and sturdy
Why We Liked It – Watch out! There’s a shark in the water! Oh wait, it’s just my pup! The cute shark design adds a little bit of character to the safe design. There is also a D ring for easy leash attachment when your pups are out of the water.
5. Paws Aboard Double Designer Doggy Life Jacket
This life jacket uses synthetic rubber material called neoprene. This is the material used to make divers’ suits. It’s durable, light and sun-resistant. As an added bonus, it has reflector tape on all sides and comes in a variety of bright colors so you can spot your dog even at a distance.
A strong and conveniently located handle makes struggling to get your dog back on land a thing of the past. The Velcro straps at the waist and neck allow for an exact fit for your particular dog. Make sure you choose the right size when ordering for your dog, the life jacket should fit snuggly and not loosely.
+ Neoprene material
+ Top handle added
+ Reflective trim
+ Accurate fit
Why We Like It – Paws Aboard Double Designer Life Jacket is a great life jacket for any size or shape of a dog. We like it for its durability and comfort features, and it’s easy to use with the Velcro straps, quick release buckles, and easily located handle. It’s affordable and with a high rating on Amazon, so customers who have bought it are happy too.
6. HAOCOO Mermaid Dog Life Jacket
Another cute design? Yes, please! The materials used on this mermaid dog life jacket are very durable and the mesh fiber allows for quick drying. From XXS to XXL, it covers all sizes and can fit any dog of any breed. Aside from the standard D ring leash hook, reflective trim and top handle, the front float design assists in keeping your pup’s head above water.
This is great for the less than amazing swimmers. This option also comes in a cute lobster and fish design. Measure your dog right, and if he or she is between sizes, opt for a larger size for a more comfortable fit.
+ Front float design
+ Cute design
+ Reflective trim
+ Adjustable straps
Why We Like It – With the HAOCOO life jacket for dogs, you never have to worry about your dog’s safety again! Feel free to attach a leash at all times if you don’t want your fur baby wandering off too far.
7. Vivaglory Camo Dog Life Jacket
This option has been upgraded with a ripstop 600D oxford cloth, making it that much more durable. The extra padding equips this jacket with up to 50% more floatation, keeping your pup safe in the water. There is no wiggling out of this float coat with a Velcro fastening system around the belly and neck.
It also comes with the front float padding design that is removable if it starts getting in your dog’s way. The reflective detailing and strong top grab handle make it easy to spot your dog and guide them out of the water.
+ 90-day warranty
+ Durable material
+ 50% more floatation
+ Front float design
Why We Like It – A float jacket needs to not only be securely fastened on your pup but also keep them afloat! The more floatation a jacket offers, the less stress it is on your dog to keep moving in the water.
8. SCENEREAL Fluro Dog Life Jacket
Having a life jacket just makes the day more enjoyable for our buddies as it allows them to not need to tread water constantly. This bad boy comes in bright colors, making finding your pet in the water easier than ever. Being made of a solid polyester blend, the jacket is lightweight, durable, and highly buoyant, which leads to years of possible use.
This jacket is easily adjustable and comes with Velcro tech to be secure on your little guy’s body, making it safe and easy to put on. Your dog will quickly get used to, and come to enjoy, his or her new fashion statement, and you will have the peace of mind that comes with proper preparation.
+ Light but sturdy material
+ Easily adjustable Velcro
+ Affordable price
+ Safe design
Why We Like It – If these points aren’t enough to sell you, I encourage you to read the product reviews on Amazon. Boasting an over 4.5-star rating, this jacket is accompanied by a plethora of great stories related to its use, along with testaments to the quality and usefulness of the jacket.
9. Kimol Shark Dog Swimming Vest
This float coat is more than a floatation device, giving your dog freedom to roam around in the water with minimal effort. They have added a double layer of foam, making the jacket 20% thicker than before but without the added bulk.
For smaller dogs, the jacket has a nylon handle. For larger dogs, size L to XL Kimol has added plastic handles to support your dog’s weight. There are reinforced stitches on both ends to strengthen the hold. Coming in different colors and a shark fin detail, your beloved pals will look like colorful sharks in the water.
+ Reinforced handles
+ Double layer padding
+ Higher buoyancy
+ Cute detailing
Why We Like It – Having a good buoyant life jacket is a must for your dog. Rest assured that even with the added padding, your dog can maneuver easily in the water.
10. Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket
This dog life jacket doesn’t wrap fully around the chest and belly area, which gives your dog more freedom of movement and makes going to the bathroom much easier. The neoprene material (scuba suit material) keeps your pooch insulated and warm and has a quick dry function.
Again for added security, this style of the jacket also has a top rescue handle installed and reflective detailing for visibility in the water. If it takes a lot of effort for your pup to keep it’s head up, the front float for neck and head support will help release some of the tension.
+ Front float design
+ Neoprene material
+ Rescue top handle
+ Maximum buoyancy
Why We Like It – As fur parents, there is no such thing as being ‘’too safe”. This is why the dual grab handles on top offer even more control when your dog is at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Dog Life Jacket Buyer’s Guide
Have you ever had that moment when you’re about to go on a boating adventure, maybe to the beach, or even to your local swimming pool (backyard or community) and your best friend looks up at you with those heart-breaking eyes begging to go? The first thing to cross your mind is if you take your little fur baby, will they be safe?
Dogs can be great swimmers, but similar to their two-legged owners they can only swim so long before getting exhausted. Doggie life jackets can be the difference between your pooch coming home from the water or being lost at sea.
What to Look for When Buying a Dog Life Jacket?
A top handle may not seem to be important, but it could be the very thing that rescues your dog if it gets hurt. It allows you to grab, lift and steer your pup in case of emergency. Make sure the handle is durable enough to sustain your dog’s full weight.
A leash attachment loop is also important for when your dog is out of the water. For some of us with giant breeds, if your pup is too heavy to lift, a leash loop is necessary to keep your pooch close to you before help reaches you.
Bright colors and reflective strips add more visibility and safety. If you’re planning on going on night adventures, choosing eye-catching colors and bright prints that will give you a better view of your pup.
Floatation and buoyancy are two other qualities to look for. A floatation pad located in front of its neck helps to keep your dog’s head above water. This is especially important if by any chance your fur baby becomes incapacitated.
The right size and fit are of vital importance. A jacket that’s too loose might be easy for your dog to get out of or accidentally pop out of when a wave crashes down. A fit that’s too tight will hinder movement and cause chafing. You want a good range of motion, and that comes with a perfectly snug fit. Having adjustable straps will give you more leeway when your pup grows or gains any weight.
The material should be 100% waterproof so it doesn’t soak any water up and weigh down your pup. Lightweight and durable material that insulates and dries quickly is also something to look for. Our best suggestion is neoprene, the material used for scuba diving suits.
Does My Dog Need a Life Jacket?
It is quite a common misconception to think all dogs naturally know how to swim. In fact, many dogs don’t like or are scared of water. For pets such as these, a life jacket can help their confidence in the water. Through fierce and deep waters, or if you plan to be in the middle of the ocean for a lengthy time, no matter how good of a swimmer your pup is, a life jacket is necessary.
Think of them the same way you would of a human swimmer. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, you are still limited by physical abilities and Mother Nature’s wrath. Why not pop one of these cute designs on your pup just for added safety?
Which Dog Breeds Require Life Jackets?
Usually, dogs which were bred for a specific purpose, like retrievers, poodles, spaniels, and setters excel in the water. Breeds that have a larger chest, like Pugs and Bulldogs, tend to have a hard time in the water. Dogs with shorter legs, longer spines, and short muzzles are also not natural swimmers.
Some of these breeds include the above-mentioned Bulldogs and Pugs, Dachshunds, the Basset Hound, the Corgi, and the Boxer. While life jackets can benefit any dog, if you have the breeds just mentioned, make sure you never take them off!
Best Life Jacket for Small Dogs
RUFFWEAR- K-9 Float Coat for Dogs
This jacket has extra floatation under your dog’s belly. For the tinier baby that might have more trouble fighting against the waves, this sure helps them stay afloat. There are no straps exposed, which could easily get snagged on some foreign objects. With sizes running down to XXS, this is a great choice for smaller pups.
Best Life Jacket for Medium Dogs
Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
Medium sized dogs have the luxury of fitting into almost all styles and designs of clothing or gear. You have more of a choice if your baby is medium-sized, but we recommend the Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket. This jacket has the front floatation feature to keep your pup’s head above water.
Best Life Jacket for Large Dogs
HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket
We recommend this one for larger dogs, simply because the sizes run larger to accommodate giant breeds as well. With all the safety features a standard vest has plus a cute design, even the largest of dogs can look adorable as a mini mermaid, lobster or shark!
The bottom line is, every dog owner needs to have a dog life jacket for their pet. How much it is used depends on how often you go outdoors, how well your dog can swim, and the length of time spent in nature. A life jacket can even come in handy at the doggy pool! We have included many affordable choices and ones that might be slightly on the expensive side. Spare no expense when it comes to the safety of your fur child.
Whichever vest you end up picking, remember that there is always an adjustment period for your dog. Take the time to help them get used to wearing it. As we always say, if your dog rejects the jacket or associates it to discomfort, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even the strongest and the best doggy swimmers will get tired and are subject to the dangers of the outdoors. Do not take the chance, get your dog a great life jacket today.
Try not to force a child’s life jacket onto your pet. Doggy life jackets are made specifically for dogs and catered to their unique needs and specifications. A child’s life vest will not provide the same functions.
Choose bright eye-catching colors with the most amount of reflective trim. Any sort of identifying detailing like a mermaid tail or shark fin can make it easier to make out your dog in a group.
Did You Know
Dogs with low body fat or with age or health issues will definitely need a life vest. Make sure the life vest is balanced and keeps your pooch in a horizontal and natural swimming position.
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