Best Dog Life Jackets – Which one to choose?

By Tom •  Updated: 01/06/22 •  16 min read
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Best Dog Life Jackets

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Some dogs love to go swimming and are complete naturals in the water. Others, whether because of their breed or for health reasons, are less adept in the water. Even dogs that can swim confidently might need extra help every now and then, and the best solution for this is a dog life jacket. Dog life jackets have risen in popularity recently because of the advancements made in safety equipment and the falling cost of materials. The best life jackets should fit securely around your dog, and we would recommend getting accurate measurements of your dog’s length and girth to make sure you choose the right size. Most popular manufacturers produce their life jackets in various sizes and will provide a size chart to help you make the right choice.

You may be asking yourself if you really need a buoyancy aid for your dog. The answer in most cases is yes. Smaller breeds, such as the pug and French bulldog, cannot keep themselves afloat because their legs are too short for their bodies. This is also true of some medium sized breeds that are very chunky with short legs. Most dogs probably won’t realize they can’t swim until it’s too late. This is why we recommend getting one if you plan on taking your dog near easily accessible deep water.

Why would a dog need a life jacket?

Regardless of your dog’s ability to swim, it is crucial to buy them a life jacket if you plan on taking them on open water. Dogs make great boat companions, but just the same as you wear a life jacket for emergencies, it’s best to fit your dog with one too. They also happen to love jumping into water, regardless of how deep it is, and whether they can actually swim! Most of the reputable brands come fitted with a handle so you can quickly lift your dog out of water if needs be. They should also be designed to keep your dog’s head above water at all times, even when they stop paddling. If you do decide to invest in a dog life jacket, it is always best to get your dog used to it before going near water. Put it on them while at home and let them see what it feels like. Most dogs will be fine with it after a while; it won’t be much different from wearing a walking harness. This will vary from dog to dog however, and some won’t enjoy the feeling of wearing it.

Some dogs will be naturally afraid of water, in the same way some people are, and no amount of safety equipment or coaxing will make them go in the water. Never force your dog to go in the water if they look stressed or anxious. Also, never leave your dog unattended around open or deep water, even if they are wearing a life jacket. In this article we’ve collected together some of the best dog life jackets on the Internet, and compared them to help you make the best choice for your dog. Remember to get measurements so you buy the right size!

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Here is our selection of best dog life jackets

1. Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

This brilliant life jacket from Outward Hound is amazing value for money. It is available in sizes X-small to X-large, and will fit most dogs. It comes in a range of colors, but they are all very bright so there’s no chance of losing your dog in the water. It has two handles on the top for easier handling, and has a special stretchy material underneath that will help your dog move freely. It is very lightweight and not very bulky at all, so will be great for your dog to wear while running around.

The life jacket has three buckles, all made of metal, which keep it in place securely. It has two straps across the stomach and one across the chest, and all of the straps are adjustable. The chest strap has a large neck float that is designed to keep your dog’s head above the water at all times. With all of these safety features it would be a perfect choice if you plan to take your dog on open water with you.

2. Vivaglory Sports Style Life Jacket

Vivaglory have produced a dog life jacket that is incredibly sleek and lightweight, and barely looks any bigger than a winter coat. It comes in a wide range of sizes and 8 different colors! It also features reflective stripes at the front and rear so there won’t be any chance of you losing your dog. All of the colors are very bright to make it even more obvious. It is made of high quality materials that stretch and allow your dog to move freely. It has a single handle on top that makes it easy to grab. The handle is positioned right in your dog’s center of gravity so it’s much easier to pick them up and handle them.

The chest strap is held in place with a strong plastic buckle, and a strip of Velcro, so it’s extra secure. The strap also has a double thickness neck float so there’s no chance of your dog’s head bobbing below water. The two straps that go under the stomach use the same plastic buckles and are adjustable. The bottom panel is made of a stretchy material that doesn’t affect your dog’s movement. This would be another great choice for wearing on open water.

3. WOpet Dog Life Jacket

This funky life jacket from WOpet is designed for the fashionable dog. It only comes in sizes small to large, but the sizes are very generous and so will be fine for dogs such as Labradors and Retrievers. It comes either in gray with a shark’s fin, or pink with scales and a mermaid tail. This makes for a funny addition to the life jacket and will be sure to turn heads at the pool! Both designs have reflective patches to aid visibility in the water, but it is not recommended to use this one on open water.

The jacket has a center-weighted handle made of a sturdy plastic, meaning you should be able to pick up even a big dog with it. It has a strong plastic buckle on the chest strap, and two across the belly. The belly strap also secures with a strip of Velcro, but this isn’t very long and so might not be suitable for chunkier dogs. The neck float isn’t as chunky as other ones on this list, and so this one would only be suitable for using around pools or small lakes. This life jacket does feature a D-ring on top though, meaning you can attach a lead to it, and so would be ideal for wearing while out on a walk.

4. Paws Aboard Double Designer Doggy Life Jacket

Paws Aboard have designed a life jacket that is ultra visible, it only comes in bright neon colors and has several large reflective strips across it. It almost looks like a high-visibility jacket for dogs! It comes in loads of sizes, from XX-small to X-large. It is also very affordable, but this is noticeable in the appearance. While it doesn’t necessarily look cheap, it doesn’t look as high quality as others on this list.

It has three sturdy nylon straps that secure in place with plastic buckles, one across the chest and two across the stomach. All of the straps are adjustable, and the chest panel secures in place with Velcro too. The buoyancy padding and neck float are not as thick as some others, and so this one wouldn’t be recommended for most dogs to use on open water. For confident dogs however, it would be fine, and is visible enough for you to get them out of the water quickly. It also features a little pad to write your contact details on, which is a nice touch in case your dog loves to run off. This life jacket would be most suitable for use around garden pools and small bodies of water.

5. Outward House Standley Experienced Swimmer Life Jacket

As it says in the name, this doggy life jacket is designed for experienced swimmers. It is designed to be more lightweight than others, and features less flotation material as a result. It comes in a wide range of sizes, but only one color way. However, it is very bright, and so there’s little chance of you losing your dog in the water. It has a comfortable, center-weighted handle on top, and a D-ring so you can attach a lead.

The bellyband is made of a neoprene mesh that is great because it drains quickly, and is stretchy enough to allow your dog to move naturally. This one features six plastic buckles holding it together, three on each side. While this might make it a big slower to put on, it does mean you have much more freedom over the girth of it. Because this one is designed for experienced swimmers, it will be fine for use on all bodies of water. Just make sure you keep an eye on them if it’s quite deep though.

6. Ruffwear Float Coat for Dogs

This is a very sturdy looking flotation device from Ruffwear, and looks like it will stand up to a lot. It comes in a variety of bright colors and a good range of sizes. It also has reflective piping along the length and so will be good for low light conditions. There is a sturdy handle on top, along with a D-ring for a lead, and a loop to attach a light to, so you can even take your dog out in the dark!

Unlike other jackets on this list, this one features a chest strap that is all one piece. This means you just slip it over your dog’s head, and then adjust it using the telescopic straps to make it fit perfectly. The chest pads fix together with high quality Velcro and two sturdy nylon straps. The straps fit in place with plastic buckles, so there’s no chance of this coming undone! The buckles and straps are specially designed to not catch and fit snugly against your dog’s chest. This jacket is slightly bulkier than others on the list, but it is worth it for its quality. Because of all its great features, this one would be perfect for taking your dog hiking or sailing.

7. Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket

Paws Aboard have designed this life jacket to offer better breathability and comfort for your dog. It is made of neoprene, the same material as wetsuits, and so is more flexible for your dog. It also means it will drain and dry better than other flotation devices. It only comes in one color, and is unfortunately mostly dark blue, and so might not be the best choice for low light situations. Also, because it is made of neoprene, it won’t be as buoyant as others on this list, and so should probably only be used by confident swimmers.

It comes in a range of sizes, and the neoprene is slightly stretchy, so should fit most dogs. It also has an extra stretchy panel underneath for extra room. It is held in place with durable nylon straps and secure plastic buckles, meaning it shouldn’t go anywhere. It also has a nylon handle on top which is center weighted, but because it’s not as padded as other jackets, be careful carrying your dog for too long. This life jacket would be most suitable for wearing in the pool or other small bodies of water, or in bigger places by confident swimmers.

8. PetCee Dog Life Jacket

This life jacket from PetCee will be a good choice for less confident swimmers because of all of its extra flotation material. It comes in a good variety of sizes, and loads of bright colors. There are even a couple designs with tails or fins! It has a good quality handle on top that’s even padded, and a sturdy plastic D-ring so you can attach a lead. It also has reflective strips so it’ll be easy to spot on poor light conditions.

This one has an extra large neck float that is designed to sit under your dog’s lower jaw so their head will always be out of water. This will be useful for dogs that might get alarmed if their nose goes near water, such as a pug or bulldog. It has three extra chunky plastic buckles and thick nylon straps, all of which are adjustable. This jacket is a bit more bulky than others on the list but it’s worth it for the extra buoyancy. It also has a mesh section underneath for more adjustability. This life jacket will be suitable for all bodies of water, and will be a good choice for helping dogs get used to being in the water.

9. Woo Woo Dog Life Jacket

This buoyancy aid designed by Woo Woo is on the cheaper end of the scale, but it would be ideal for keeping in your car if you enjoy going walking near water. Because it is on the cheaper side, it does have less safety features, but will still keep your dog afloat. It comes in a nice range of colors, including several polka dot ones! It also comes in loads of sizes, from XX-small to XX-large, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting a good fit.

It has two large reflective strips across the body, and combined with its bright color, means it’ll be a good choice for dark walks. It has a small handle on top, but it wouldn’t be suitable for carrying long distance. The neck float is nice and chunky and so should keep your dog’s head above water all the time. The nylon straps are all adjustable, and the large Velcro strap should help keep it in place. While this might not be as good quality as others on this list, it will make a good choice for keeping around for a short-notice walk by the lake.

10. HE&HA Dog Life Jacket

HE&HA have created a high quality life jacket that will be perfect for any off-road adventure! It is made of incredibly durable materials, and is not too bulky, so your dog should be fine wearing it for longer periods. It has plenty of reflective strips, which is good because it only comes in darker colors. It does come in a good range of sizes though, and makes up for its visibility with its quality. It is made with extra buoyant materials, including extra flotation on the belly panel, and this doesn’t even add any extra bulk to the jacket.

The jacket has a chunky center-weighted handle on top, and a D-ring, both of which are held in place with nylon straps. The chest strap secures in place with a buckle, and has an extra chin float to keep your dog’s head up. The mesh panel underneath is breathable and stretchy, meaning there’s a good range in sizing. The belly panels are held in place with high quality nylon straps and buckles, and there is a small ID tag inside, which is always useful! This life jacket would be a perfect choice for anyone planning on taking their dog on a big outdoor adventure, and is suitable for all swimming abilities.

11. Pawaboo Dog Life Jacket

If you’re looking for an ultra-visible life jacket for your dog, this one from Pawaboo is perfect. It’s fluorescent green and has more reflective strips than any other on this list. It’ll be great if you plan on taking your dog sailing or camping, or if you like walking at night. It only comes in three sizes though, so there isn’t as much choice as some others. However, the straps can compensate for a wide range of sizes, so it’ll be worth checking their size charts. It is a nice streamlined life jacket and so shouldn’t affect your dog’s natural movement.

This jacket even comes with two D-rings on top so it can accommodate a greater variety of leashes. It also has a thick handle that is center weighted for easy lifting and handling. It is made of neoprene for extra drainage and breathability, and has a surprising amount of flotation material. It also has an extra chin float to keep your dog’s head above water. The belly panel fixes using Velcro on either side so there is more adjustability, and everything is held in place with secure, fully adjustable nylon straps. This will be a great choice for using on open water.

12. URSKYTOUS Dog Life Jacket

This life jacket from URSKYTOUS is a good choice, with plenty of flotation material and safety features. It comes in a range of sizes, but unfortunately doesn’t come in any bright colors. It makes up for this by having reflective patches to improve visibility. It also has extra buoyancy on the belly panel and a double thickness neck float. While this does have extra padding, it is only really suitable for smaller bodies of water and more confident swimmers.

It features an extra durable rubber carrying handle on top, along with a D-ring to attach a lead. All of the straps are made of high quality nylon and are secured with quick-release buckles. All of the straps are completely adjustable. The belly panel is also held in place with a wide strip of Velcro, meaning it shouldn’t go anywhere. The life jacket is quite streamlined and so shouldn’t affect your dog’s movement. It is made of high quality polyester that drains easily, but is less breathable than other materials. This life jacket is made extra tempting by the travel water bowl and doggy sunglasses included in the deal! As mentioned earlier, this one isn’t suitable for using on large bodies of water, but would be ideal for wearing out on a walk or hike.

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Tom

Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!
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