Best Dog Life Jackets Reviewed 2019

Dog life jackets are essential in deep water and may even save your dog from drowning, but did you know that they also can help you pull your pup back onto your paddleboard and help other water goers spot your dog on the water?

Product Details

Best 2019

Featured Best Dog Life Jacket

Ruffwear K9 Float Coat

  • Snug-fitting
  • Lightweight
  • Very Durable

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Runner Up 2019

Featured Runner Up Dog Life Jacket

EzyDog DFD

  • Very Buoyant
  • Highly Reflective
  • Heavy Duty

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Most Affordable

Featured Best Affordable Dog Life Vest

Outward Hound – Granby

  • Belly Band For Comfortable Fit
  • Under Chin Float
  • Lightweight

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Best For Small Dogs

Featured Best Life Jacket For Small Dogs

EzyDog Micro DFD

  • Specifically Designed For Small Dogs
  • Extremely Buoyant
  • Highly Durable

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Best Inflatable

Featured Best Inflatable Dog Life Jacket

Petleso Dog Saver Inflatable

  • Folds Into A Highly Portable Bag
  • Quick And Easy Inflation
  • Highly Visible

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Don’t let yourself get caught in a sticky situation with one of the most important members of your family when buying a life jacket takes only a few minutes out of your day.

Most dog life jackets are made from a buoyant material and available in high-visibility colors. They are usually put on in the same way you would fit a harness to your dog, with straps that go around the belly and the shoulders/neck.

The dog life jacket was designed to be so much more than a mere flotation device and it works in three main ways:

  1. To make sure that other water goers can spot your dog.
  2. To help your dog swim or allow him to take breaks.
  3. To provide a handle that makes pulling him out of the water easy.

Not all dogs are destined to be strong swimmers, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy some time in the water. Take my pooch, for example – she adores nothing more than heading to the local lake for a game of fetch while wearing her trusty life jacket!

But, just because she has a great time doesn’t mean she’s very good at swimming. In fact, for such a fit dog that can hike for hours at a time, I’m often surprised how quickly she gets tired in the water.

Note – We don’t recommend playing fetch in water for more than a few minutes at a time, as dogs can suffer from water intoxication if this game is allowed to go on for too long.

What Makes a Good Dog Life Jacket?

Each dog is unique, and with so many breeds, cross-breeds, and lovable mutts the world over – it’s up to you, as your dog’s decision maker, to be their advocate and find the products that suit them best.

Sounds like a bunch of hard work, right? Well, fortunately, that’s where we step in as your personal pooch product assistant. We’re going to run through the most important aspects to consider when buying a dog life jacket, so that you’ll better understand what you need for you and your dog.

Each dog is unique, and with so many breeds, cross-breeds, and lovable mutts the world over – it’s up to you, as your dog’s decision maker, to be their advocate and find the products that suit them best.

Sounds like a bunch of hard work, right? Well, fortunately, that’s where we step in as your personal pooch product assistant. We’re going to run through the most important aspects to consider when buying a dog life jacket, so that you’ll better understand what you need for you and your dog.

Sizing

There are a lot of medium-sized dogs roaming the earth, so it’s not surprising to hear that these sizes are the easiest to find. For owners of toy dogs, giant breeds, or pooches with unique body shapes, it can be more difficult to find a life jacket that fits – but it’s not impossible!

Here are a few additional considerations if your dog falls into the last three categories we mentioned:

  1. Toy and small dogs: Life jackets can be incredibly bulky and sometimes even cover a dog’s entire body. For owners of smaller breeds, a life vest with buoyant material that mainly sits on the back and chest, with straps that go down the side of the body and underneath, can work better and ensure that your pooch’s mobility isn’t affected.
  2. Giant dog breeds: Many large breed owners work hard to find a life vest with straps long enough to wrap around their dog’s body. But, they can forget to look for a life jacket with additional buoyant material, which is a necessity given that larger dog breeds weigh more. Opt for a life jacket with a thick flotation layer and preferably one that offers wrap-around coverage or, at the very least, covers the sides of your dog’s ribs.
  3. Unique body types: I know what you’re thinking, what is considered a unique body type? Well, many breeds and cross-breeds can fall into this category and not all dogs can comfortably fit into a standard harness or dog life jacket. This can include short-legged breeds, such as the Dachshund, flat-faced and wide-necked breeds, such as the Pug, and some thin-bodied and wide-chested dogs, such as the Labrador x Basset Hound.

Handle

Many life jackets offer different types of handles: some have one handle at the top of your dog’s back and others have handles or straps around the entire barrel of your dog’s body. In some cases, there are vests that have multiple handles.

For owners of larger or heavier dogs, it can be a good idea to pick up a dog life vest with two handles, to allow for easier retrieval and to give you the option of having two people lift your dog back into your boat, or onto the pier, etc.

If your dog isn’t used to the water, or you’re an anxious owner, it might be worth picking a dog life jacket that has the full-body wrap around straps, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that you’ll be able to grab your pooch from pretty much any angle.

D-Ring

When your dog is wearing a life vest, chances are that it will be tricky to also have a collar or a harness on him at the same time, not only because it might weigh him down, but because the rings where you ordinarily affix your leash might be obscured by the life jacket itself.

Many manufacturers have eliminated this problem by providing D-Rings on the vest itself, where owners can directly clip their leashes.

This can come in handy for owners that don’t feel their dog is well-trained enough to go off leash just yet and also for those walking in leash-only zones on their way to or from the water.

High visibility

Dog experts suggest that one of the most important reasons to buy a dog life jacket is for visibility in the water – not just so you can spot your dog with ease, but for fellow water goers that may be boating, fishing, or surfing.

Each of these activities can be dangerous if your dog gets in the way, but anyone on the water will find it easier to avoid a collision with your canine pal if they can spot him easily!

Reflective

That evening stroll to the beach seems like a great idea on a hot summer day, but, as the sun goes down and it begins to get dark, it can be tricky to spot your four-legged friend as he dashes in and out of the lapping waves.

Save yourself from that momentary heart attack and buy a life jacket that also has some sort of reflective material.

Quick-release straps

Whether your dog has the zoomies after a fun day at the beach, or he looks as though he may have injured himself – you’ll want to get his life jacket off as quickly as possible.

Quick-release straps mean that you don’t have to fiddle with buckles for several minutes before you can let your dog run off in naked freedom and, for owners that struggle with arthritis or mobility issues in their hands, this can be downright painful.

And, as much as these are great reasons to look for quick-release straps, we’re going to be brutally honest here, another reason is that we don’t want any additional hassle in our lives – there I said it.

Easy to clean

Being in the water is one of my favorite places – whether it’s a lake, the sea, or hanging out in a tropical waterfall – I’m all about that water-based activity life! And my dog and I are two peas in a pod, in that regard.

So, we have a pretty good routine when it comes to getting out of wetsuits and life jackets and hosing them off or shoving them in the washer at the end of a day.

If you’re only planning on making use of your new doggie life jacket occasionally, then ease of cleaning might not be a big deal for you, but, if like me, you’re in the water pretty much every day, you could save yourself a few hours every week by opting for an easy to clean option.

Suitable for puppies

Pups, they’re so cute it’s ridiculous, and seeing them experience all of the things life has to offer is one of the greatest joys for a dog owner.

But, if you’re planning on letting your baby dog join in with the big dogs down at the lake, be sure to measure your dog at their current size, before buying, rather than going with the breed recommended size.

Your dog has a lot of growing to do and it can get expensive if you’re constantly buying new gear to fit with their growth spurts. I would also always recommend buying a dog life jacket that can grow with your dog and that means adjustable straps!

Durability

If you’re planning on being in the water pretty much every day of the summer, you don’t want to deal with straps snapping or material fraying, which could not only spoil the day, but also cost a lot to replace. Try to find a product that will stand the test of time, is made of sturdy materials, uses top-quality fastenings, and boasts plenty of positive customer reviews.

Buoyancy

We touched on this already, but for larger dogs or those carrying a few extra pounds, you’ll want to look for a life jacket that provides enough support in the water to allow your dog to stay afloat.

Some life jackets only provide a helping hand, whereas others are able to keep even the chubbiest of pups afloat, should they fatigue in the water.

Finding A Dog Life Jacket to Suit And Fit Your Dog

When you’re looking for a dog life jacket for your furry friend, there are a few things you’ll want to consider based on size, breed, mobility, style, and personality!

Weight

When thinking of a life jacket, it’s easy to just think about how it will work in the water, but as your dog will likely be running in and out of the water and you won’t be removing their vest each time, you need to make sure it’s light enough for him to play comfortably.

Size

Never guess the size of your dog when it comes to a potentially life-saving piece of equipment. Some manufacturers will give you a size guide, based on the “average” dog of the same breed, but since having a life jacket that’s too big can hinder your dog’s ability to swim – it’s better to take five minutes out of your day and measure your dog.

Shape

There are a few different shapes of life jacket out there and some work better for different breeds and types.

Short-legged or short-necked breeds usually suit vests that offer buoyancy in the top section that sits atop the back. Larger dogs or those with long bodies will often do better with a life jacket that wraps around their body.

Color/style

The look of your dog’s life vest, other than visibility and reflectivity, doesn’t have anything to do with how well the dog life jacket works. Having said that, as a proud pooch parent, it’s up to you if you want to jazz up your dog’s wardrobe with a snazzy life vest!

In fact, there are even some dog life jackets out there that have a cute mermaid design or a shark fin on top of the back panel – both can have your dog looking either tough or adorable in no time!

Chew-resistant

Do you have a cheeky monkey who likes to chew on his harness or even on the tags of his collar? If so, you might find that a dog life jacket with a lot of padding on the front of his body — notably, around his shoulders — can encourage him to start chewing. This is not good at all, as this will likely affect the buoyancy of the product.

If your pup is a chewer, opt for a life jacket with only straps around the front portion and the padded, buoyant, and oh-so-tempting-to-chew material out of reach, on the back and sides of your dog!

Product Reviews

#1 Ruffwear K9 Float Coat:

Best Over All 2019

  • Made out of:Abrasion-resistant webbing
  • Colors: Red, Blue, Orange
  • Sizes: XX-Small-X-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES
  • Weight:15.2 oz

PROS:

  • Many sizes
  • Easy to adjust
  • Has floatation on sides and underneath
  • Great support when swimming
  • Very sturdy

CONS:

  • Not safe for machine washing
  • Can be hard to get the right size

With the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat, swimming or boating time will be just as fun as it should be because, with this life jacket, your dog will be free to move as he pleases. The straps are very easy to adjust and the design allows for a natural swimming position – does it get any better than that?

Actually, it does because this jacket comes in many sizes, three bright colors, and has a handy dandy reflective trim, which means that you can stay out even longer than before! On top of this (literally), it has a handle, which makes it easy to help your fur baby out, should he need it.

#2 EzyDog DFD:

Runner Up 2019

  • Made out of: Heavy-duty polyester
  • Colors: Green Camo, Red, Yellow
  • Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Provides a lot of buoyancy
  • Highly reflective
  • Many sizes
  • Zip pocket and D-buckle
  • Comfortable fit

CONS:

  • Handle not easy to grab
  • No underneath floatation

These are probably the most well recognized life jackets out there. Used by many of the top dog trainers and services dogs world wide. The reason why is straightforward, they are built to last and offer superior flotation to anything else on the market, making them perfect for dog’s that lack swimming ability or for long journeys in open water.

The EzyDog DFD (Doggy Floatation Device) is great for any kind of water play – it’s easy to adjust, has two straps underneath the belly to keep it in place and comes in lovely, bright colors to make sure you always know where you’re pooch is.

It also has a lot of floatation material, highly reflective parts, and a handle to help you lift your dog. It even has a D-ring, so that you can attach your leash and a zip pocket for treats and other bits and bobs you want to keep within easy reach.

#3 Outward Hound – Granby:

Best Budget Option

  • Made out of: Ripstop and neoprene material
  • Colors: Orange, Fun Fish
  • Sizes: X-Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Two handles that go underneath the belly
  • Neck float
  • Neoprene belly band for secure comfort
  • Reflective and bright color
  • Will stay on

CONS:

  • Big difference between sizes
  • Seams might rip over time

The Outward Hound Granby life jacket is a great way to make sure that both you and your pup can enjoy your water fun to the fullest! It floats, has not one but two handles so that you can assist and restain your dog, and you can opt for their super-cute fish design, too!

This jacket has a belly band for stability and is easy to put on, take off, and adjust, and the neck float is there to make sure that your pooch can easily keep his head above the surface, even when he gets tired. It also comes in plenty of sizes, so you’ll be able to find one that fits just right!

#4 Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket:

Runner Up Budget Option

  • Made out of: Ripstop 600D Oxford cloth
  • Colors: Blue, Camo Blue, Camo Pink, Extra Reflective Green, Extra Reflective Orange, Extra Reflective Yellow, Pink, Yellow
  • Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Invisible D-ring
  • Removable front float
  • Durable
  • Lightweight and non-restrictive
  • Reflective details and bright colors

CONS:

  • Not always stable
  • Weaker seams

The designers of Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket really seem to have thought of everything: from the durable material to lots of bright, vivid colors! Your pup will always be easy to spot when he’s wearing one of these hues and the reflective trim will make him visible at nighttime, too.

This jacket also has a sturdy handle, a removable front float to release neck pressure, and has a lot of padding, which means great floatation. It’s also easy to adjust and has a sturdy belly band for extra comfort. With such a classy and timeless design, perhaps this jacket can be worn for formal canine occasions, too?

#5 Paws Aboard Life Guard:

Best For Fashion Statement

  • Made out of: Neoprene and breathable mesh
  • Colors: Blue/Yellow, Nautical Dog, Neon Yellow, Pink Polka Dot, Red, Flames, Grey/Orange, Pink/Silver, Blue Polka Dot
  • Sizes: XX-Small, X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Breathable material
  • Easy to adjust
  • Fun colors and patterns
  • Dries quickly
  • Non-restrictive

CONS:

  • D-ring can be weak
  • Slightly unbalanced

The Paws Aboard Life Guard jacket is a great one to consider, not only because it’s stylish and comes in a whole bunch of colors, but also because it has reflective details and can easily be adjusted. It even has a handle, making it easy to assist, rescue, or restain your pup, if needed.

Made with a breathable material that dries quickly, this life jacket also has a belly band made of mesh, making it great for hot summer days, when breathability is key. This versatile jacket also has a D-ring for your leash, as well as a little area where you can write down your name and number, in case your dog travels a little too far afield in his attempt to make new friends.

#6 EzyDog Micro DFD:

Best For Small Dogs

  • Made out of: Neoprene and polyester
  • Colors: Red, Yellow
  • Sizes: XXX-Small, XX-Small, X-Small
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • D-ring for attaching a leash
  • Fits small dogs
  • Easy to adjust
  • Has a zip pocket
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • No underneath floatation
  • Might be a bit heavy for really tiny dogs

The EzyDog Micro DFD was designed specifically with small dogs in mind, which is apparent in the small sizes available and the easily adjustable straps that make sure this jacket will fit your fur-baby without restricting their play and movement.

Made from a durable material, this jacket has a handle, which makes it easy to prevent your furry best friend from getting in trouble, and a zip pocket, as well as reflective details! On top of all this, it comes in bright yet stylish colors and is very lightweight.

#7 Outward Hound Standley Experienced Swimmer:

Best For Experienced Swimmers

  • Made out of: Ripstop and mesh material
  • Colors: Green/Blue
  • Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Two handles facing in different directions
  • Breathable material
  • Great for experienced swimmers
  • Bright, stylish colors
  • Sturdy D-ring

CONS:

  • Not for beginners
  • Flaps might get misaligned

The Outward Hound Standley Swimmer Life Jacket is made with experienced swimmers and lots of action in mind and allows your pup to run, jump, and swim as he would normally.

This bit of kit is made to last and the belly band is made of mesh, to ensure that there isn’t any water sticking around for longer than necessary.

It also has sternum support and two handles, both facing in different directions, which makes it easy for you and a friend to give your larger dog a hand, should he need one. Oh, and it has a D-ring, too!

#8 Petleso Dog Saver Inflatable:

Best Inflatable

  • Made out of: Ripstop nylon
  • Colors: Green
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Inflatable
  • Easy to store
  • Bright color
  • Easy to adjust
  • Breathable

CONS:

  • Not that many sizes
  • Only one color

Another good option is the Petleso Inflatable Life Jacket, which, as the name suggests, isn’t only a padded life jacket, but it also has airbags that you fill yourself, to provide additional buoyancy and some extra security and comfort, too!

This jacket also has a breathable belly band, a wide handle, a D-ring for attaching a leash, and adjustable straps, which make it a great option for a growing pooch! When you’re not planning on swimming for a while, just fold the jacket up and store it in a bag or wardrobe, easy peasy! All you have to do is fill up the airbags again and you’re good to go.

#9 HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket:

Best For Fashion Statement

  • Made out of: Polyester, oxford, nylon and mesh
  • Colors: Pink Mermaid, Shark, Lobster and more
  • Sizes: Small-Large
  • Reflective: YES
  • Handle: YES
  • Quick release straps : YES

PROS:

  • Cute design
  • Dries quickly
  • D-ring for leash
  • Handle
  • Adjustable straps

CONS:

  • Can be hard to get the right size

We can all agree that safety is at the top of the list of vital things when it comes to water fun and one of the best ways to keep your pup out of danger is to get a good life jacket. So, what’s second on the list? Well, looking fashionable, of course!

With the HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket, you’ll not only keep your pooch happy and healthy, but you’ll also get your own little pink mermaid pet, too. The jacket has a pretty scaley pattern in pink and purple and it even has a little tail. How adorable!

The jacket comes with a useful handle, a D-ring for your leash, and it dries quickly, making it very convenient for those mermaids that want to roam the land, too!

If the beautiful pink color isn’t vibrant enough for you to spot your pup, not to worry, because this cute jacket has reflective trim, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

When and why should I use a dog life jacket?

If you’re planning on allowing your dog to go into any kind of water that is deep enough for them to be unable to stand in – they should be wearing a life jacket. If you’re wondering whether you should make your dog wear a life jacket when swimming in the ocean, the answer is a resounding yes.
Not only does a life jacket allow your dog to swim with ease, take rests when necessary and hopefully avoid possible risks associated with swimming, it also makes them much more visible to all other parties in the surrounding area.
If those nearby are boating, jet skiing, fishing, or taking part in a similar activity – it’s important that they can spot and avoid accidentally getting too close to your dog, which can cause injuries to both parties.

How do I get my dog accustomed to his life jacket?

Training your dog to get used to a life jacket can be simple and straightforward. Much like training your dog anything new, it requires time and patience. If you’re planning on taking your dog out on the water, a good rule of thumb is to begin getting them accustomed to wearing a life jacket for at least one week in the run-up to your outing.
An easy way to train them to be comfortable with the jacket is to have them associate it with something positive, for example placing the life vest on them prior to feeding them.

How do I measure my dog for a life jacket?

With different fits of life jacket available for the active dog owner, it’s best to check the specific measurement requirements for the life jacket you ultimately decide is the one for you.
To give you a rough idea of the measurements you might need, measure your dog’s body girth, neck, length, and check their weight too – this should give you a reasonable starting point!

How should a dog life jacket fit?

As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s body and the secured straps of the life jacket. This should allow the jacket to be secure enough to do its job, without limiting his ability to move while wearing it.

Why won’t my dog move with a life jacket on?

When your dog is first getting used to wearing his life jacket, he may feel a little uncomfortable or unsure about moving with it on. The key is to allow him to do this slowly, perhaps with the straps loosened a little bit, and allow him to build up his confidence.
You can offer treats to encourage some forward motion and, of course, use plenty of praise when he takes a step in the right direction!

Which dogs are most likely to need a life jacket?

While many dog owners assume that only those canines that aren’t terribly strong swimmers are the ones that require life jackets, this is actually a myth.
All dogs that will be swimming in any body of water should wear a life jacket to ensure their safety as, the sad reality is, accidents do happen and many loving dog owners have lost their beloved pets because of this.

How do I clean and maintain my dog’s life jacket?

That depends on the life jacket you ultimately choose to buy and the material it is made of. For example, some doggie life jackets need to be washed by hand, whereas others can just be hosed off.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your dog safe while still allowing him to have fun is definitely high on every dog owner’s priority list!

But, it was surprising to find out during the course of our research for this piece, that many dog owners didn’t realize the importance of a dog life jacket, or understand the risk that your fluffy friend is susceptible to without one.

While most owners assume that a dog life jacket is used to aid in swimming or flotation, few are aware that many accidents involving canines in water actually occur from boaters, fishermen, surfers, and other water goers not being able to see a dog in time to avoid a collision, due to the lack of visibility.

Please don’t put your dog at risk this summer. Instead, pick up a canine life vest – it’s as easy as pie to leave in the car for those hot summer days when heading to the lake or dog beach is a must!

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