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8 Best Dog Life Jackets – Floatation For Furry Friends

Updated: June 23, 2021

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.

The best life jacket for dogs doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be 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 8 Favorite Dog Life Vests

best-dog-life-jacketRuffwear Float CoatPremium63
best-life-vest-for-dogsEzyDog DFDEconomy53
cheap-dog-life-vestPaws AboardPremium68
life-jacket-small-dogsVivaglory SportsEconomy38
neoprene-dog-life-jacketOutward HoundEconomy52
large-dog-life-jacketKurgo Surf N' TurfPremium51

Dog Life Jacket Reviews

#1 – Ruffwear Float Coat Canine Life Vest

best-dog-life-jacketWith six sizes available you can get a Ruffwear 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.

Unlike some of the cheap doggie life jackets, the stitching and quality construction will allow the Float Coat to last for years. It’s no wonder resale value is so high on these.

border collie wearing PFDMore 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 currently available in red, blue, and orange.

Ruffwear Float Coat review

All color options feature reflective trim, making them highly visible in any conditions. Even the bright blue color is easily noticeable, unlike other shades of blue that life jacket manufacturers use. This flotation aid is perfect for just about any water-loving dog.

>> Check current price <<


#2 – EzyDog Doggie Floatation Device (DFD)

best-life-vest-for-dogsFalling midway between the Float Coat and Paws Aboard in both price and features, the EzyDog 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. Like the Float Coat, it also has a strong back grab handle and hi-vis reflective detailing.

Compared to lower cost options, you’ll quickly notice the EzyDog has more floatation material to allow your pup to be in the water longer without getting tired. It’s currently available in a bright yellow or red, and a camo green is available for hunting dogs.

>> Check current price <<


#3 – Paws Aboard Neoprene Dog Life Jacket

cheap-dog-life-vestAnother 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.

Available in 8 colors with reflective trim and 6 sizes, you should have no problem finding the perfect dog PFD for extra piece of mind when he or she is out in the water.

>> Check current price <<


#4 – Vivaglory Sports Ripstop Dog Life Vest

life-jacket-small-dogsVivaglory’s new sports style dog life jacket comes in three sizes to fit dogs of all shapes and sizes. The clever design includes three fully adjustable quick-connect comfort straps around the neck, chest, and stomach to ensure the perfect fit.

This jacket has been specifically designed to keep your dog in a swimming position in the water without restricting his natural movement.

One of our favorite things about this life vest for dogs is that it comes in a variety of bright, fun colors with reflective trim, so it’s fashionable while providing excellent visibility both in and out of the water.

For your peace of mind, the Vivaglory is made of extremely durable, heavy-duty 600D oxford cloth so you’ll never have to worry about your dog tearing it, no matter where he roams.

We also appreciate the superior buoyancy of this flotation device that ensures your pup will stay afloat even in rough waters. A sturdy rescue handle is also included in the design, which is great for pulling your dog out of the water or lifting him out of the boat.

This jacket has a sports style design that’s nice and roomy around the neck to accommodate a wide variety of activities, including swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and hunting.

Dog owners love the comfortable, yet secure fit and adjustability of Vivaglory’s dog life vest. Be aware that this jacket seems to run a little small. If your pooch is close to the maximum measurement for one size, the manufacturer recommends going with the next size up to ensure a comfortable fit.

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#5 – Outward Hound Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket

neoprene-dog-life-jacketThe Outward Hound is a cheaper option than a lot of the competition but almost just as safe, making it one of the best selling dog life jackets of all time.

While it isn’t quite as neat as a premium life jacket such as the Ruffwear above – there are quite a few external straps – it’s available in five 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, with a neat under-chin front float to help your dog keep its head above water even in rough conditions.

If the Ruffwear or EzyDog vests are 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 or your puppy seems to be doubling in size every other month, it may be a good idea to start with a lower price option such as this one.

>> Check current price <<


#6 – Vivaglory Original Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

dog-life-jacket-reviewsVivaglory has another winner on their hands with their original Ripstop dog life vest. It is designed to be extremely durable and includes extra padding for good buoyancy in the water.

This life vest also includes three adjustable straps at the neck, chest, and belly. Each one has a quick release buckle and a heavy-duty Velcro closure to ensure a secure and comfortable fit without restricting your dog’s ability to swim.

Vivaglory makes this floatation device in five sizes to fit almost any dog. It also comes in 9 bright and fun colors. The reflective trim provides extra visibility both in and out of the water.

This design also includes a grab handle for safety and convenience, as well as a D-ring for attaching your dog’s leash.

We really love the stretchy underbelly of this PFD for dogs because it conforms to the shape of the dog and ensures a good fit even on breeds with a very deep chest. The padding isn’t bulky, so it’s comfortable enough for your dog to wear for a full day of swimming or boating.

Owners are for the most part quite happy with the fit of this life jacket and found the size chart to be extremely accurate. The reinforced stitching at all stress spots ensures durability, and the elastic strap keepers keep any excess strapping secure and out of the way.

Most dog owners were very happy with the Vivaglory life jacket’s ability to help their dog stay afloat in the water, but some reported that it flipped their pups over on their back. This is likely due to incorrect sizing so measuring carefully and following the size chart is extremely important.

>> Check current price <<


#7 – Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket

large-dog-life-jacketThe 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 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 red color is bright and the trim is highly reflective. 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 and max girth of 45 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.

>> Check current price <<


#8 – Queenmore Doggie Life Vest

dog-flotation-deviceIf you want a life vest for your dog that’s super cute, yet functional, the Queenmore dog floatation vest might be just what you’re looking for.

This dog life jacket comes in gray and features an adorable shark design with a fin that sticks up out of the water when your pooch is swimming. Alternatively, a cute pink fish design is also available.

It comes in five sizes with adjustable straps around the neck, belly, and chest to ensure a perfect fit.

For safety and peace of mind, the manufacturer has included a super-strong, low profile grab handle for emergencies. There’s also a durable D-ring for attaching your pup’s leash. The buoyancy of this vest is superb and lots of reflective accents are included for added visibility.

Our favorite feature of this dog life jacket is the breathable mesh lining on the underbelly to help your dog stay cool and dry fast. This jacket is made of high-quality oxford cloth and polyethylene foam, which we found to be very durable.

The quick connect buckles paired with heavy-duty Velcro closures ensure that the jacket won’t come off in the water.

Dog owners love how easy this life vest is to put on and take off of your dog. The adjustability ensures that it doesn’t restrict your dog’s ability to move in the water, and many users love it for teaching puppies how to swim.

Unfortunately, Qeensmore has not included a way to secure any extra strap length, so it just hangs underneath, which could be annoying if there’s a lot of extra strap hanging down. Unless you plan on reselling it or using on another dog, you can simply cut off the extra length.

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Sizing Information

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?

how to measure for dog life jacketAll 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.

Paws Aboard10-14"14-18"18-27"18-27"27-38"38"+
Vivaglory Sports18-20"19-23"22-26"26-31"31-40"
Outward Hound11-15"16-20"21-27"28-32"33-44"
Vivaglory Original13-16"16-20"20-24"24-31"31-39"

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 SizeApprox. GirthBreeds
Tiny13 to 16 inchesHavenese, Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier, Papillon, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Chihuahua
Extra Small16 to 23 inchesBoston Terrier, French Bulldog, Jack Russell Terrier, Pug Pomeranian, Shih-Tzu, Schnauzer, Dachshund
Small23 to 29 inchesBasenji, Beagle, Puggle, Brittany, Coker Spaniel, Corgi, Irish Terrier, Australian Shepherd
Medium29 to 35 inchesBulldog, Basset Hound, Border Collie, Boxer, Chow, Dalmation, Goldendoodle, Husky, Pit Bull, Poodle, Pointer
Large35 to 39 inchesLabrador, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher
Extra Large39 to 45 inchesSaint Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff

34 thoughts on “8 Best Dog Life Jackets – Floatation For Furry Friends”

    • I’d say the Outward Hound would be a good choice. It’s a lot more flexible which is better for smaller dogs. In your case, the K9 jacket would be way too stiff.

  1. I have a beagle/cocker spaniel mix that has a missing right front leg and a highly deformed left front leg. We are trying to find a life vest that will help keep his head afloat….. Any suggestions?

    • The Paws Aboard is favorite of Boxer owners since it’s very non-bulky (and inexpensive). The Ruffwear Float Coat also works well for most boxers but the higher quality comes with a higher price.

  2. I have a ShihTzu and I’m looking to get him a life jacket since soon he will start his swimming classes. He’s length is 15″, chest 17-18″. What would be the best for him to start?

    • Really any of the options above would work but if I had to choose, probably the Ruffwear Float Coat or Paws Aboard would be my top choices for a Shih Tzu.

  3. My son has a 74 pound Golden Retriever, 1 and 1/2 years old. He is in great shape. Which of these vests would likely be the best option for a larger dog? He can swim but is looking to take him kayaking and wants the added protection.

    Thank you!

    • Both the Ruffwear and Outward Hound are good picks and popular with Goldens and Labs. Even though they are naturally good swimmers, they’ll eventually get tired and realize they can just float there.

  4. What choice would be best for 22 lb goldendoodle. Her legs are long but body wt. is low. We are sailing for 3 mos spring 2017. Any suggestions?

  5. I have a 4lb chihuahua… what’s the best option for her? i need her to not be able to wiggle out of it or not wiggle paw to neck area where she would clearly be in trouble.

  6. We have a small female German Short-haired Pointer with a girth 34″, length 22″ and weighs around 40 lbs. She loves to go out with us on our jon boat, which vest would you recommend for her? Thank you!

  7. Reading this super late, but I have a french bulldog puppy that will need a life jacket in the next month and a half for our vacation. We are going to Tennessee and will be doing hiking and there will be rivenes and ponds to swim in. She is 12 pounds right now. I’m leaning towards the Float Coat as that’s what most frenchie owners use and love. Right now, she would be an XXS in it, but I’m having trouble buying a $80 life jacket that she is going to grow out of. Does the Ruffwear Float Coat adjust enough to fit her as she grows? Or am I better off buying a cheaper one now and upgrading to the Float Coat when she is closer to full grown? Breeder estimated she will be 18-22 pounds full grown.

  8. Hello I am in desperate need of guidance and information for my beautiful 5 year old German Shepard. What life vest would be best for her size and weight? She is taller than most German Shepard. Every time we go swimming she wants to come and play with us but has always been weary of water. Slowly she is making progress but as soon as she can’t touch the ground anymore she freaks out and this breaks my heart. I simply want her to enjoy herself with us she deserves it after all she just a great girl! Any information on which life vest would be best fitted for her and the most comfortable as well would be extremely appreciated! Thank you!

    • All of the above life jackets would work but I’d recommend the #1 Ruffwear. The large size should be perfect for even taller German Shepards. Even if she’s taller than average, dog life vests are according to chest girth. She will absolutely love it!

      • We have a 24 lb. Mini-doodle, w/a 20” girth who loves to swim, but we’re on Lake Michigan where the water can get rough Very quickly. What life vest would you recommend that doesn’t impede his swimming, but keeps him safe when his energy is depleted? Also – if he falls in the water from a kayak out in the middle of the lake?

    • You really can’t go wrong with the Ruffwear for safety and comfort but the Outward Hound Kygen is a good budget option. Depending on his size (measured by chest girth), you’d want either a medium or large.

  9. Which life jacket would you recommend for a lab/pitt bull mix? She has a deep, but thin, chest and then narrows out toward the end of her ribs. I bought the Ruffwear K9 (medium) and there is way too much space/gapping on the top posterior end of the life vest but the rest fits perfectly. I’m hoping to find one that fits her body size without having to try out and return too many.

    • The EzyDog above is popular with pit bull owners since it’s a bit more flexible/form-fitting than the Ruffwear. Or another option would be something like the MTI Underdog which is designed differently to promote easier swimming, but might also fit better in your pup’s case.

  10. Hi – Any recommendations for a Boston Terrier? I wasn’t sure what style is best for flat faced breeds. Girth is about 19 1/2″, 18 pounds.

  11. My olde english bulldog loves t swim, he charges the water, goes in waves, etc….he is about 75-80 pounds….he has walking harnesses, needs something for swimming.
    My 3 choices are the Ruffwear (have their walking harnesses for my other dogs, have 5 dogs-too many!), the EZ float and the Kurgo surf n turf.
    Want something that will not bind, ride up/choke in neck, allow him to swim w/o device riding up anywhere, on the back, etc. and keep him horizontal in the water.
    What would you suggest? thanks roberta

    • Hi Roberta. If money is no object, the Ruffwear would be ideal for your pup. It’s super safe and allows for good mobility. Check out any bulldog online forum and you’ll find it’s commonly recommended. The only problem is that inventory is a little difficult to find. Ruffwear is supposedly redesigning it for next spring (hopefully they don’t change it too much).

      That said, your other two are also good options for english bulldogs.

      • Thank you for the lead……I will try and contact them to see how they will be changing the design for this RWear jacket…hope its not major changes as I would like to get is sooner than later!

  12. Well can’t find the ruff wear in a medium …the company suggested a med vs large as he is right on the border and to go one size smaller…I will try and search but most places are out like you said…..
    The company said that most likely the style will remain the same, may have slightly different colors, fabric may be a bit different..seems like nothing major was change but I can’t wait until next spring.
    So what would be your next choice? the ez dog? style is similar…..but…thanks…


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