Which is the Best Dog Life Jacket 2019?


dog life jacket

​​​​​​Life jackets for dogs have become popular for many different reasons. First of all, a dog life jacket is a great way to help your dog to learn to swim. Secondly, it will give your dog confidence in the water.

Thirdly, if you take your dog on a boat of any kind then you will know that they have a habit of jumping into the water. Contrary to popular belief, most dogs are not good swimmers. This was the primary reason behind the design and creation of life jackets for dogs.

That is why many owners like to kit dogs out with a dog life vest. It ensures they are safe when they are in the water and it also helps with getting them back on board as they have built in grab handles.

Many dog owners have hobbies which involve being in or around water and they want to make sure their dog is safe. No need to worry if your dog isn’t the Michael Phelps of the canine world as there are plenty of options and you will find a suitable dog life vest to keep them safe.

Let’s have a look at your options and which are the best life vests for dogs.

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Why Does Your Dog Need a Life Jacket?

People often think of dogs as loving water and being excellent swimmers as they believe that dogs have a natural ability to swim. Many dog owners know that in reality this is simply not the case. Some dogs have trouble staying afloat in water.

When it comes to swimming, dogs fall into 3 categories. Dogs that can naturally swim, dogs that learn to swim and dogs that just won’t swim no matter how much you try to encourage them.

Some of the reasons why your dog can't swim, or can't swim well, will be down to the type of breed you have. Some dog breeds have low body fat (Greyhounds for example) and this means they are not very buoyant. Where as some breeds (Bulldogs & Pugs for example) have large chests which make them top heavy in the water.

Smaller breed dogs can be very capable swimmers (Yorkshire Terriers & Shih Tzus) but due to their size they can get tired very quickly.

For the dogs which do actually love water and are happy to swim, there are still limits to their ability. There are conditions and circumstances which can make it difficult for even the best of swimmers to be safe in the water.

Bad weather conditions, rough water, fatigue and distractions can soon mean that your dog can find itself in danger. Safer locations such as lakes and pools can still pose a danger to your dog so you should consider giving yourself peace of mind by giving your dog a life jacket.

In addition to the safety aspect, you should also consider that your dog would like to enjoy itself when it is in or around water. This is easier for them to do if they are wearing a life vest as this will support them. This will result in them using less energy when swimming and therefore allow them to play for longer as they will not get as tired as quickly.

What Do You Need to Look for in a Dog Life Vest?

A Nice Bright Color

This is more important than you might think. It is easier to see your dog when it is wearing a nice bright color. It is also easier for other people and other boats to see your dog as well. For me, it's a no brainer to get a bright colored life vest.

After all, if you are going to buy a dog life jacket then you may as well buy a color which will help your dog be more visible. Good choices for bright colors include flame orange, bright red, neon green and yellow.

Reflective Material

Reflective material is in human life vests because it adds another level of safety and helps you be more visible when it is dark. It therefore makes sense that you will want the same for your dog's vest.

There will undoubtedly be times when you are around water after the sun goes down. When you are the reflective material will help you keep an eye on your dog.

Handles

You will need handles on your dog life vest as these ensure it is easy to pull your dog out of the water when the need arises. When an emergency situation does arise you want to be able to pull your dog out of the water quickly. A sturdy handle, or handles, will allow you to do this even when your dog is panicking and moving around erratically.

Every dog life vest will have either 1 or 2 handles. Generally speaking smaller sized vests will have 1 handle. Larger size vests will have 2 handles.

If it has 1 handle then this is in the centre of the jacket. If it has 2 handles then one will be near the dog’s shoulders and one will be near the dog’s hind legs.

TIP: Practice pulling your dog out of the water in a calm controlled situation. That way both you and your dog are familiar how to do it when the needs arises.

Straps and Buckles

This is about what you don’t want. You do not want any exposed buckles and you do not want any long straps. Exposed buckles and long straps will catch on rocks or other obstacles and will create problems with the legs of the dog.

Buoyancy

All life jackets do not have the same amount of buoyancy. You will need one with enough flotation material to keep your dog afloat. This will require flotation material under the belly and under the head as this will ensure the head is above the water.

Material

You will want your dog life vest to last so you will want to buy one made from a high quality, durable material. Rip resistant material will ensure that it will stand up to even the harshest of weather conditions. It will also last a lot longer and this will save you money in the long run.

This doesn’t always mean you need to buy the most expensive doggie life jacket. You should put more focus on buying the one which is the best value  A great way to help with this is to read customer reviews as this lets you know how the dog life vest performs in the real world.

Dog Life Jacket Sizing?

Getting the right fit for your dog life jacket is important. You need to ensure that your dog is comfortable while wearing it and you also need to ensure it is a secure and snug fit. You do not want it to slip off your dog when it is the water.

Life Jackets for dogs sizing ranges from XXS to XL. Each size relates to specific measurements of length, girth(chest), neck and weight. It is these factors which will dictate which size life jacket you will need.

Be aware that different manufacturers have different sizing charts so you will need to pay attention to each manufacturers criteria. Also, not all manufacturers offer all sizes so you may need to shop around, depending on the size of your dog.

How Do You Measure Your Dog for a Life Vest?

Dog Life Vest

There are up to 4 key measurements you may need to ensure you get the correct size life jacket for your dog - Length, Girth (Chest), Neck and Weight. Take your time when taking these measurements and a top tip is to measure them twice as this will ensure you don’t make any mistakes.

Not all manufacturers require all these measurements but these are the most you will need.

How to Measure the Length of Your Dog

Measure from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. Keep in mind the jacket will not completely cover long-bodied dogs such as corgi's and dachshund's. This is acceptable as the main girth of the dog will be supported.​​​​​​

How to Correctly Measure the Girth (Chest) of Your Dog

Measure the widest part of the ribcage but keep in mind that the life jacket will need to be a snug fit, just like a human life jacket. This is to ensure proper flotation. Take the measurement up close to the dog’s front legs and going around their body in a circle at the widest part of the chest

How to Measure the Neck of Your Dog

Measure the widest part of the neck while keeping in mind it should be a snug fit while not restricting their breathing.

How to Weigh Your Dog

If you are able to pick your dog up then you can simply use the scales you have at home. First you need to step on the scales on your own to obtain your weight. Then you need to step on the scales while holding the dog. The difference between the two weights is the weight of the dog.

If you are not able to pick your dog up then you can get them weighed by using the scales at your local pet store. You can also take them to the vets or a local dog groomer.


Dog Life Jacket Size Charts

Outward Hound Life Jacket Size Chart

Outward Hound Life Jacket Size Chart

Outward Hound is a company housing 5 brands which are all related to dogs and pets. At the helm are people who love dogs so they have the passion and experience to make great products. This shows through in the high quality dogs life jackets they make and sell.

XSSMLXL
Weight5 - 15 lbs15 - 30 lbs30 - 55 lbs55 - 85 lbs85 - 100 lbs
Length 8.5 - 10.5 inches10.5 - 12.5 inches12.5 - 14.5 inches14.5 - 16 inches16+ inches
Neck6 - 8 inches8 - 10 inches10 - 14 inches14 - 18 inches13.5+ inches
Girth11 - 15 inches16 - 20 inches21 - 27 inches28 - 32 inches33 - 40 inches
Ruffwear life jacket size chart

Ruffwear Life Jacket Size Chart

Ruffwear has been producing outdoor dog gear since 1994 and it has a pedigree which speaks for itself. They are passionate about both the outdoors and everything canine related. They started the outdoor dog gear market with the collapsible drinking bowl. The rest is history.

XXSXSSMLXL
Girth13 - 17 inches17 - 22 inches22 - 27 inches27 - 32 inches32 - 36 inches34 - 62 inches
Paws Aboard Life Jacket Size Chart

Paws Board Life Jacket Size Chart

Paws Aboard life vests are by Indianapolis based Fido Pet Products. Their mission is to deliver high quality pet products with a focus on the active lifestyles of pets and pet owners. Dogs are the inspiration to develop innovative and functional products which are also extremely safe.

XXSXSSMLXL
Weight1 - 6 lbs7 - 15 lbs15 - 20 lbs20 - 50 lbs50 - 90 lbs90+ lbs
Girth

11 - 23 inches

23 - 35 inches

36+ inches

EzyDog Life Jacket Size Chart

EzyDog Life Jacket Size Chart

EzyDog make a range of active dog gear which focuses on the outdoor lifestyles that dogs love and enjoy. Comfort and style are at the forefront of everything they do which is why dog owners love them. They simply want you and your dog to be able to make the most of the outdoors and be safe while doing so.

Extra SmallSmallMediumLargeExtra Large
Weight15 - 25 lbs20 - 45 lbs40 - 60 lbs60 - 90 lbs90+ lbs
Length 10 - 13 inches13 - 16 inches15 - 20 inches17 - 24 inches20 - 26 inches
Girth19 - 32 inches21 - 35 inches25 - 39 inches27 - 44 inches30 - 48 inches
VIVAGLORY Life Jacket Size Chart

VIVAGLORY Life Jacket Size Chart

VIVAGLORY have been designing and making pet products for over 12 years. They have their own research and development team who are focused on designing the best pet products for every season of the year. They may not be as well known as some of the other brands but the customer reviews speak for themselves.

Extra SmallSmallMediumLargeExtra Large
Girth12.6 - 16.5 inches16.5 - 20 inches19.9 - 24.4 inches24.4 - 30.7 inches30.7 - 38.6 inches
Neck9.4 - 11.8 inches11.4 - 15.9 inches15.4 - 20.7 inches19.7 - 27.6 inches27.2 - 36.6 inches

Best Life Jackets for Dogs


The Outward Hound Granby Splash Life Jacket (formerly known as Ripstop) provides a comfortable and secure fit for tons of fun in the water. Extra durable ripstop material provides comfortable buoyancy in the water but doesn’t restrict their movement on land.

A front neck float helps keep the head and neck above the water while a neoprene belly band securely supports their chest and stomach.

The Granby Splash is available in high visibility colors with multiple reflective strips. Easy-grab handles, quick release buckles & outstanding flotation make this one of the most popular dog life jackets.

The unique, multi-handle design adds strength and durability for pulling your dog out of the water.

A front neck float helps keep their head and neck above the water while a neoprene belly band securely supports their chest and stomach.

The Granby Splash is available in high visibility colors with multiple reflective strips. Easy-grab handles, quick release buckles & outstanding flotation make this one of the most popular dog life jackets.

The unique, multi-handle design is constructed to add strength and durability for pulling your dog out of the water.

The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is the ultimate in canine flotation and water safety.

For dogs that love to join their humans rafting, kayaking, boating, surfing and paddle boarding. This life jacket is suitable for dogs of all shapes and sizes.

This is a premium, fully-featured life jacket. The strong handle is optimally positioned to lift dogs out of the water while the reflective trim ensures enhanced visibility in or out of the water.

The K-9 Float Coat is available in 6 sizes - XX-Small, X-Small, Small,  Medium, Large, X-Large

The Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket has extra padding which gives it additional buoyancy in the water. However, it does not restrict the movement of your dog in any way. It is kept securely in place with a velcro system which wraps around the belly and neck.

A D-ring enables you to attach the dog leash and the high quality grab handle allows you to pull your dog out of the water in an emergency.

Adjustable straps and quick release buckles means you can achieve a perfect fit which ensures the vest stays securely on your dog.

Fo those who like choice, it is available in 8 bright colors. The those who like safety, it includes reflective strips to enhance visibility.

Available in 5 sizes, ranging from XS to XL.


The Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket draws it's inspiration from Colorado’s Dawson Reservoir. This life jacket is ideal for novice swimmers.

It has foam neoprene side panels which offers maximum buoyancy while naturally insulating dogs. This keeps them warm while they swim.

High visibility red coloring with reflective piping and emergency lifting handles ensure your dog has a safe and fun time in the water.

Designed for maximum functionality and safety, the new vest offers you the key benefits of buoyancy, comfort and ease-of-use.

It allows dogs to maintain unparalleled flexibility, mobility and visibility while in the water.

The EzyDog Doggy Life Vest (DFD) lives and breathes innovative design. Constructed with high performance materials which allow your dog to play just as hard as they want. Keeping them safe and comfortable wherever they roam.

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Vest boasts up to 50% more ultra-buoyant material. This is strategically placed to keep your dog in a natural, easy swimming position at all times. A sturdy nylon D-ring means you can clip a leash to the vest.

This has been through rigorous tests to ensure that they give your dog the most ergonomic and comfortable fit possible.

The easy to adjust neoprene straps means you can put this life vest on in a matter of seconds.

EzyDog life vests won’t hinder or restrict your pooch’s natural movement, so you can play on lake or land.

The Paws Aboard Fido Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket offers ultimate safety for your pet while they are out in the water. Believe it or not, dogs also get tired while in the water.

Your pet can be in and out of the water all day, while staying safe and comfortable. Allowing you peace of mind while you're hanging out at the water.

Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jackets provide the ultimate buoyancy with a cozy secure fit and provides high visibility to keep pets safe.

It features an advanced breathable mesh underbelly for proper draining and drying. This gives your dog more comfort and healthier conditions than traditional pet life jackets, which can cause exhaustion and chafing.

Sizes Available - XXS to XL