Do Dogs Need Life Jacket? Find The Answer Here


You might have a dog that loves to be in the water and will jump off the boat as soon as you give him the command. If you are an avid duck hunter and you own a spaniel, then you know just how much of a strong swimmer your spaniel is.

But even the best canine swimmer can get tired in the water, or be dragged downstream by a strong current. Other breeds such as bulldogs or corgis have short stubby legs and are simply not built to be in the water.

So, do dogs need life jackets? The short and simple answer is YES! Dogs will require a life jacket when you take them with you on your watery adventures. Let’s discover more shall we?

Some dog breeds are just too lean

Greyhounds, Salukis, or the Rhodesian ridgeback may run like the wind on dry land, but their lean athletic build means that they lack buoyancy in the water. This makes them struggle to stay afloat which necessitates the need to wear a dog PFD.

You might prefer such breeds for different types of activities such as hunting, camping, hiking, or backpacking with your dog. In such a case then you might need a dog backpack for your pooch to allow them to help you carry some essentials.

Other breeds are simply not built for endurance. Think of the Shih Tzu or Yorkshire terrier. They might start very strong in the water but quickly lose their breath and tire. Different dog breeds have different characteristics and physical abilities which will hinder their ability to swim for very long.

A dog PFD is, therefore, essential.

Any great swimmer will tire at some point

Some dogs like the golden retriever or the Portuguese water dog are bred to get into the water. But as much as these dogs are excellent swimmers, they do not have unlimited stamina and will get tired at some point.

If they swam further out in the lake, the swim back to shore can be a struggle. That is why the dog needs to wear a life jacket even if you feel that your dog is a confident and strong swimmer.

Some dog life jackets have an open design that allows for a full range of motion and is specifically designed for dogs that enjoy swimming.

Accidents can happen

Sometimes, you and your dog might find yourselves in a strong current and your canoe might capsize leaving you under the mercy of the water. The dog might struggle to keep their head above water as the current tosses them every which way.

If you’ve been wondering, should my dog wear a life jacket, then you should know that it can help keep your pooches head above water until you can find a way to pull them out.

And that is not the only thing that could happen. There are stories where dogs have had seizures while in the water. Without a dog life jacket, they would simply drown. However, the dog’s life was saved thanks to their owners having put life jackets on them.

You don’t know what lies underneath the surface

The water might seem calm and safe for your dog to swim in, but you may not know what is under the surface. Lakes and rivers may contain debris that the dog could get caught up in. While they try to free themselves, they could tire easily and the life jacket will help keep their head above water until you can reach them and set them free.

Swimming in the ocean could also get the dog caught up in seaweed or kelp and a strong current may push them further out to sea. This could also drain their energy. Without the life jacket, they will struggle to remain afloat and end up drowning.

Staying warm

Some dogs have thicker coats that keep them warm in cold temperatures. While swimming, however, the coat can absorb water which will bring their body temperature down significantly. A dog’s normal body temperature should be between 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Swimming in cold waters might bring it down to less than 99 degrees Fahrenheit and hypothermia might set in.

This condition will impair the dog’s ability to swim to shore. A life jacket, on the other hand, will help your dog maintain its core temperature in the water. It will not only offer buoyancy but act as great insulation as well.

If you love kayaking with your dog, then ensure that you get the best kayak for dogs that you can find.

Easily spot your pooch

Dog life jackets will often feature bright colors that will help you spot your dog in the water especially in case they swim further out.

If there is a strong current, and the light is fading fast, a bright colored dog PFD can help you spot them and get to them quickly before things get worse.

Life jackets help to pull the pooch out of the water


Dog PFDs have handles on the back that are designed to help grab the dog and pull them out of the water. During a strong current or if the dog falls into white waters, it can be a real struggle to access them, grab them, and pull them out.

A life jacket will also allow you to keep hold of your dog in turbulent water to prevent them from slipping and falling into the water in the first place.

Peace of mind

Your water adventures with your pooch best friend should be fun and free from worries. To make the most of your time, you don’t want to be worrying about your dog getting in the water and drowning.

Another great answer to the question “should my dog wear a life jacket?” is that it gives you that peace of mind knowing that even if the dog gets into the water, they are safe to swim and have fun.

And if that is not reason enough, then you will agree that your pooch just looks cute and awesome wearing that life jacket. If you will be spending the evenings camping next to the river, then it’s important to ensure that you bring along some essential dog camping gear.

Dogs are not exactly aquatic animals

Let’s face it, dogs are similar to us in many ways one of which is the fact that they are not designed for aquatic life. If we need PFDs, then so do they.

We have continued to modify the behavior of our beloved pooches to suit our lifestyles. We take them out fishing, canoeing, and paddleboarding. All these activities increase their chances of falling into the water.

If you are an avid kayaker, then you should find out everything you need to know about kayaking with your dog.  A life jacket ensures that the dog is safe to enjoy time in the water with us.

How to choose a dog life jacket

Choosing a life jacket for your dog shouldn’t be too hard as there are no specifications or standards. Note that some breeds such as chihuahuas or pugs are simply too small and have such small body structures that they are better off out of the water.

That said, here are some of the things you will need to consider.

First, check for a life jacket that has a handle. It will help you easily pull the dog out of the water if he falls off or if you notice he is beginning to tire. Also, it is a great way to offer support to the dog when you are teaching him how to swim.

Another feature to look for is a D-ring. This will enable you to attach a leash. In case the pooch falls in the water during a strong current, he will not be dragged too far from the boat and you can pull him back.

Ask yourself—do dogs need life jackets or a life vest? The latter has less surface area, is lighter and more suited in a swimming pool. The life jacket, on the other hand, covers more of the dog’s body and is best suited for rough waters and while swimming in the river or lake.

Ensure that the dog life jacket has bright colors. These make it easier to spot your pooch in the water if the two of you are separated by a large distance as well as during low visibility. Also, check for reflective strips. When it gets dark, shining a light on the strips will reflect helping you spot your dog more easily.

You want your dog to feel comfortable when wearing a life jacket. Ensure that it fits snug and allows for a full range of motion so as not to hinder the dog when out in the water.

A front floatation pad will keep the dog’s head above water in case he is unable to swim. An abdominal floatation pad is an extra feature that will help boost the life jackets’ buoyancy.

The different types of dog life jackets to consider

Dog life jackets come in different designs, shapes, and sizes. These include;

1. K-9 float coat from Ruff Wear

These feature a telescopic neck closure system that is adjustable to fit different sized dogs. Another feature is the strongly build handles that enable you to easily pull the dog from the water as well as reflective trim for greater visibility. The k-9 flat coat also comes with closed cell foam panels.

2. Outward Hound Ripster life jackets

The life jacket comes in bright colors, well-designed handles that are simple to grab, plenty of reflective strips for added visibility in the dark as well as quick-release buckles.

3. PAWS Abroad neoprene life jackets

One of the best features of the neoprene life jackets by PAWS Abroad is the breathable underbelly mesh. This helps to drain the water quickly when the dog gets out of the water.

4. The he&ha pet quality dog life jacket

It features a top grab handle, D-ring or leash attachment, meshes holes for air circulation and ventilation as well as vibrant colors for visibility.

Teaching the pooch to use a life jacket

Do dogs need life jackets? The answer is an obvious YES! However, the first step to using a life jacket is ensuring that your dog is adept at swimming in the first place. Start them off in a swimming pool or a shallow body of water. Include their most favorite toys in the water so they get comfortable getting in.

You can also get in the water to help your pooch become comfortable getting in. After spending time wading, come out and put a life jacket on your dog. Next, practice the same routine while the dog is wearing the life jacket.

Soon the pooch will start to realize that swimming is easier with the life jacket. After this step, it’s time to take things up a notch and take them to the river or the lake. If you have to hike there, then always have a good dog harness for hiking. Get in with the dog to build their confidence and soon they will have turned into great swimmers.

Globo Surf Overview

It’s important to ensure that your dog wears a life jacket when out in the water. It will help keep them afloat and make it easier for them to swim towards you or the shore. It also allows you to easily pull them out of the water. When choosing a dog life jacket, ensure it fits your dog perfectly.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!