Understanding Life Jackets For Dogs: Which Is The Best?

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dog life jackets

Dogs are some of the most versatile and well-adapting canines on the planet. They are especially good at learning different tasks given the right motivation. One of the best skills dogs have is the doggy paddle which seems to come naturally for many dogs. If you live near water you know how much dogs love swimming, or maybe you have seen your dog play with your sprinkler several times.

Despite their high energy and love for the water, staying afloat can be a little difficult for some breeds. Life jackets for pets come in here. Designed to keep your dog’s head well above the water, the vests will ensure your dog is safe on rough waters. It will also keep your pets on the water longer. Additionally, it is much easier to pull your dog out of the water when it is in a life vest.

The Best Dog Life Jacket Overall

RUFFWEAR - Float Coat Dog Life Jacket 

Ruffwear have made quite the name for themselves in recent years with some of the best life jackets for dogs. One of their best products is at the top of our list. The Float Coat Dog Life Jacket checks all the right boxes, durability, good quality, convenient, and affordable. When you are out on the water a lot with your dog, the float coat dog life jacket offers your dog the floating assist it needs without hampering movement. This option gives you the best value for money; the durable straps help you lift your pets out of the water without damaging the jacket.

Categories of Dog Life Jackets

There are different types of dogs around the world. You can have a large dog or a small one from one or more breeds. There is no limit to the type of dogs you can find. To cater to this demand, there are various categories of pet floatation devices to choose from. Small life vests are meant specifically for use with puppies or other lightweight dogs. These are meant to only accommodate the small bodies of these pets and would be very tight on large dogs hampering breathing.

vivaglory dog life jackets

Large dog life jackets are used to keep larger breeds of dogs afloat. These come equipped with stronger and more durable straps to ensure they can handle the weights adequately. Other kinds of life jackets include those meant for floating, offering greater neck support and free movement. In these dog life jacket reviews, we take a look at some of the best in each category and then some.

Key Features of Dog Water Vests

Before you make a purchase, here are a few things you need to know about. First, pick the right size of life jacket for your dog. To get your dog’s size, use a measuring tape to measure the widest part of the rib cage. If you pick one that is too large your dog will not move freely in the water. If it's too small, your dog's breathing will be hampered, you do not want that. The size of your dog should take into account just how much fat your dog has. Lean dogs tend to need more assist floating compared to fatter breeds. The life jacket you choose should be visible to help you keep an eye on your dog.

Life jackets should last you a long time, if your dog is still growing, be sure to pick one with a variable to accommodate this. The convenience straps offer is hard to ignore, choose straps that can be secured with ease. The last thing to consider when selecting a life jacket for your pets is the material. Pick something durable for the intended environment of use, police dogs use very different life jackets from what you might use in your swimming pool.

The Top 10 Best Life Jackets

To help make your decision easier, this review breaks down and highlights the key parts of every life jacket for your consideration. Here are pet life jacket reviews for the most common categories of life jackets.

#1 Best Dog Life Jacket Overall: RUFFWEAR - Float Coat

ruffwear float coat dog life jacket

Using a float coat provides ample floating assist allowing more time in the water. Available in 4 bright colors, visibility is guaranteed. The covered buckled straps are for safety with added strength. The clip-on buckle is easy to securely remove. The strap safety mechanism is designed as part of the jacket to allow even weight distribution, this lasts longer. There are six different sizes ranging from small dogs, weighing less than 20 pounds to much larger breeds.

The durable material covering the foam pads underneath is lined with reflective edges for higher visibility still. The unique design allows for sufficient neck support to keep its head afloat. These qualities make this the top rated dog life jacket.

Features:

  • High visibility colour options.
  • Durable oxford cloth material.
  • Foam padding.
  • Clip on buckles.
  • Rescue strap.
  • Very visible
  • Dense foam pads for floating 
  • Extra neck support
  • Bulky for small dogs
outward hound granby splash dog life jacket

The first runner up in our list of reviews is this life jacket form Outward Hound. The top box of this check is visibility. Available in bright red and pink, you cannot lose sight of your dog at any time. Available in 5 different sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large, you can use on any dog. The highlight of this life jacket is a lightweight construction. Because it is so light, many users prefer to use this for small dogs. They offer a snug fit and do not hamper movement.

The reinforced neck support is guaranteed to keep your pets comfortable and afloat all the time. Your convenience is covered too, two safety straps sewed on for use when pulling or holding on to the dog when on rough water. The two straps allow for an even distribution of the weight across the jacket when lifting the dog. That being said, be careful not to put on the straps unevenly as this will lead to some of the seams weakening as well as loosening the fit.

Features:

  • Highly visible bright colours.
  • Reinforced neck support.
  • Two safety straps.
  • Foam padding on the sides and not the bottom.
  • Can be worn while the dog is leashed
  • Easy to secure
  • Elastic wrap around for added comfort
  • Not true to size

#3 Budget Buy: PETCEE Life Vest

petcee dog life jacket with great buoyancy

PETCEE are the manufacturers of some of the most reliable pet products in the market. Their products range across stylish winterwear to all-season water safety wear. Each of their products is tailor-made to offer the best user experience. For instance, the life vest we look at has three measurements to be taken to get the right fit.

These are largest circumference of the ribcage, neckline and smallest part just in front of the hind limbs. The right sized vest keeps your dog snuggly in place, this ensures the least possible soaking of the fur aiding the buoyancy. The rescue handle at the top has reflective edges for enhanced visibility in addition to the colour options available.

The neck support has an elongated floating belt to ensure the head always stays above the water to prevent choking while swimming. The jacket is made from waterproof oxford cloth covering green foam pads underneath. There is a Velcro strap for easily securing your pet in place. The immediate concern for most people is whether or not that will get stuck on the fur, worry not, it does not get in contact with the fur. The neck has an extra strap to ensure the fit is perfect on smaller dogs.

Features:

  • Reflective edges on the straps.
  • Velcro straps.
  • Rescue strap on top.
  • Durable oxford cloth material.
  • Lightweight
  • Attractive design
  • Easy to strap
  • Does not work well on heavy dogs
vivaglory new sports style ripstop dog life jacket safety vest

Offering five different sizes and 9 colour options, Vivaglory will have you spoilt for choice on which life jacket you should buy. The selection of colours includes very bright colours and some stylish bright camo options as well. The life vest is lightweight and will not be too bulky for your dog. It is made using the best quality oxford cloth and foam for buoyancy.

The advantage that oxford cloth offers includes very strong seams that do not come off when you use the rescue strap. The strap is made from the same oxford cloth and will ensure that your dog stays safe in the water. This does not have the next belt for floating support. However, there is a clip-on buckle on the strap and this can be adjusted to ensure adequate support. It is arguably the best life vests for dogs taller than afoot. This is because the front of the vest is a little heavy and could tip a smaller dog forward.

Features:

  • Durable oxford cloth material
  • High visibility colour options
  • Rescue strap at the top
  • Neck support option
  • Lightweight
  • Very visible
  • Attractive design
  • No support belt

#5 Best Shark Life Vest for Dogs: Petacc Life Vest

petacc dog life jacket pet floatation vest

If you are looking for a fun dog life vest for swimming, shark life vests are a fan favourite. These cool looking life jackets will have your dog looking adorable or fierce. The Petacc life jackets come in two colour options, a bright pink option aptly named mermaid and the shark, our focus, that’s grey with a shark fin on top.

The neck strap has jagged teeth for full effect. To purchase the right size, measure the neck girth and chest girth of your dog. These two measurements and the back length will help you pick the best option for you.

The shark fin on the back is stylish as well as functional offering very high visibility. There is a secure rescue strap just above the chest of the jacket. Velcro straps on the bottom lock the dog in firmly and will not come off easily when you are pulling the dog out of harm's way or back on to your boat. There is a D-ring on the end where you can clip in your leash should you need it.

Features:

  • Velcro safety straps.
  • Two rescue straps with a D-ring.
  • Neck support piece.
  • High visibility
  • Stylish design
  • Firm Velcro straps
  • Leash has to be taken off before dog wears it

#6 Large Dog Life Jacket: Paws Aboard Dog Vests

paws aboard dog life jacket vest for swimming

This is the best dog life vest from Paws Aboard. It has an excellent design that allows it to open up completely for easy cleaning and can be folded up for storage as needed. Plenty of colour choices to pick from, the vests are made out of foam covered in durable oxford clothe with clip-on buckles. The ease of use and right-sizing makes this the perfect choice for large dogs. Not only can the straps handle the weight of the dog they can also be the part where you leash the dog. The right measurements are taken from the neck and chest girth. Using the Paws Aboard size chart will help you find the best size for your pet. 

This best life vest for dogs is surprisingly light despite having being made for large dogs as well. It offers great visibility for all colours and the breathable buckle straps allow for some degree of freedom for the dog in the water as well as enabling use over a longer period of your dog's life. The material allows water to drain away immediately leaving little wetness or discomfort if the jacket stays on out of water. 

Features:

  • Durable material (oxford cloth and foam).
  • Buckle and snaps for safety.
  • Rescue strap with D-ring at the top.
  • Water resistant material.
  • Extremely breathable
  • Fashionable
  • Water resistant therefore does not soak through
  • D-ring webbing can become dangerous when it fails

#7 Neoprene Dog Life Jacket: Vivaglory Premium Neoprene

vivaglory neoprene life vest with superior buoyancy and rescue handle

Neoprene is one of the best synthetic materials used to make swimwear. It is elastic over a wide temperature range and durable with little eater retention ability. It is the perfect material for water sports equipment. These dog life jackets made from neoprene have unique body conformity that results in a stylish fit for your pet. The jacket has a well thought out design with two straps on the top in line with to avoid straining the buckle clip-on at the bottom and on the neck when lifting your dog.

The elasticity of neoprene allows unhindered movement when wearing the jacket. Neoprene is light and this means the jacket will not be a burden. Take care to ensure the rescue straps not torn as the seam work on the straps at the top has been done on a thin strip of neoprene without any form padding offering little support. This tends to stretch out a bit, as is the nature of neoprene when you pull on the straps.

Features:

  • Durable and light neoprene.
  • Sealed foam cells for buoyancy.
  • Two rescue straps.
  • Buckle and belts for safety.
  • High visibility colour options.
  • Light due to neoprene content
  • Attractive colors
  • Double belts for added safety
  • Straps may stretch too much

#8 Best Small Dog Life Jacket: Outward Hound Dawson

outward hound dawson dog life jacket

Owning a small dog will have your perspective on different products changed quite a lot. You cannot just buy any leash or collar. You have to always consider the size of your pet. The two important things for smaller dogs is the weight of the vest and floating assistance offered by the jacket.

The Dawson dog life jacket has great features that help with this. The first if the light oxford cloth material with foam padding on the sides. The second is a foam pad just below the neck attached to the neck strap. The added buoyancy from this will keep the head above the water adequately.

There are five sizes available with two colour options. You can get this in orange or bright red. Needless to say, visibility is guaranteed. There are two in-line rescue straps on the vest. The point of concern for some would be the light material at the bottom. It is only meant for safety, to close the jacket. Most of the padding is on the sides, this guarantees free movement for your dog.

Features:

  • High visibility colours.
  • Two rescue straps at the top.
  • Adjustable sizes.
  • Neck support.
  • Durable exterior fabric
  • Extra foam on the sides increases buoyancy
  • Easy to save due to rescue handles
  • May not fit true to size

#9 Cute Dog Life Jacket: HAOCOO Dog Vest Saver

haocoo dog life jacket vest saver

Stepping out to the pool or a lake with your dog should be more than just functional. A cute life jacket on your dog will enhance the aesthetic of your day out. This is why HAOCOO offers a wide selection of ten colours to choose from. Each colour comes with a different aesthetic design, based on the same functional base. There is adequate neck support with belts and buckle straps around the neck and bottom. This allows you to secure a snug and adjustable fit.

If you want to let your dog have some free-range in the water, attaching a rope or leash on the D-ring on top of the jacket should do. The rescue straps are strong enough to withstand the tugging pull and keep your dog upright in the water. The vest is made from a variety of materials including oxford cloth and nylon. The vests come in three sizes; small, medium and large.

Features:

  • Rescue straps with D-ring.
  • Strong and durable oxford cloth.
  • Highly visible colors.
  • Nylon offers greater buoyancy.
  • Stylish design options.
  • Available in various sizes
  • Quick release buttons increase convenience 
  • Enhanced visibility
  • Does not fit true to size

#10 Bulldog Life Jacket: iChoue XL Dog Life Jacket

ichoue dog life jackets saver swimming vest

Bulldogs are a special breed of dog which many dog lovers adore. They are adorable and can be fierce-looking too depending on the size. Bulldogs also have a unique physique which necessitates a different kind of life jacket specifically for them. This is where iChoue comes in.

Offering incredibly detailed stitching on the straps and oxford cloth and nylon material, this is one of the most durable life jackets you can buy. Given how bulldogs tend to grow big, strong rescue straps and belts with fastening buckles add the extra support need for large dogs.

The excellent buoyancy offered by the padding on the sides does not hamper movement. It also has a floating piece on the neckpiece for support making it one of the best pfd for dogs.

Features:

  • Durable oxford cloth.
  • Side padded for greater movement.
  • Rescue straps with reflective edges.
  • Easy to wear
  • Lightweight
  • Strong rescue straps
  • One has to buy a size up to ensure proper fit

Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Floatation Devices

  • How do you wash a dog life jacket?

Depending on the kind of environment you use them in, dog life jackets will need to be cleaned every once in a while. Using cold water and detergent, you can scrub off any dirt or fur that is stuck in the vests.

  • What is the best material for dog life jackets?

There is no perfect material for a life jacket for dogs. There are a few boxes that can be checked to find out whether a life jacket material is good. These include visibility, water-resistance/waterproofing and durability.

  • How do you size a dog life jacket?

He best way to size a life jacket is to know your dog’s size. This involves measuring the neck girth, chest girth and back length. Be sure to check the adjustability of life jackets before you buy them as the sizing differs between brands.

  • How often must a dog life jacket be replaced?

It is entirely dependent on the state of the life jacket. If it is worn out, it is no longer usable. Ensure you start looking for replacements as soon as you start noticing any signs of wear on the life jackets.

  • Should my dog wear a life jacket?

Yes. Wearing a life jacket ensures that your dog is safe in the water. Some institutions also require your dog to have a jacket while in the premises.  

  • How should a life jacket fit a dog?

A life jacket should fit to size. That is, it should not hang loosely off but also should not be too tight that it constricts airflow.

  • Why do dogs have life jackets?

This is for their safety. Dogs that cannot swim properly can easily drown hence the need for life jackets.

  • Can all dogs swim?

No. Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Some need to be trained to get used to the water.

life jackets for dogs
  • Do corgis need life jackets?

Yes. Due to the shape of their bodies, corgis are not good swimmers. Therefore, one should always take extra safety measures.

  • Do Labs need life jackets?

Although labs are natural swimmers, having them wear a jacket serves as extra precaution in case of any accidents.

  • How often should life jackets be replaced?

Lifejackets should be replaced occasionally. When you see signs of wear and tear, it is time to buy a new one.

  • What is the lifespan of a life jacket?

Any foam filled jacket can last for maximum of 10 years. After this, it must be replaced.

What to Look for When Buying Life Jackets for Pets

Before you add a dog life jacket to your cart on Amazon, ensure that it meets all your functional and aesthetic criterion. The material should be durable, not prone to tears and can withstand the weight of the dog. It should be a visible colour to enable easy use in rough water bodies and visibility at night. The material should provide sufficient buoyancy and water resistance to keep the dog afloat. Lastly, the dog life jacket you choose should offer adequate support based on the needs of your dog. An elderly dog will need more floating assistance rather than mobility whereas it is the opposite for plump younger dogs. Do you have any thoughts on the life jackets for dogs listed above? Let us know in the comment section below.

Author

Paul is an entrepreneur and marketer for the pet industry who works out of Chicago. He teaches people how to break free of the 9-to-5 grind by blogging for a living. Currently, Paul runs the HerePup along with the team of dedicated experts – so you know he has the knowledge to help you make the right choice.

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