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Best Dog Life Jackets (Vests) For Dogs: Ratings & Reviews

Emma Braby

Last Updated: March 23, 2020 | 14 min read

Whether your pooch is a swimming pro or a bit of a scared swimmer, he needs the right gear so that he can enjoy the water as much as possible! Even if you don’t intend to take him swimming it is still important to teach him how to, as it is estimated that around 10,000 dogs die in America every year from drowning alone.

So whether you like to go out on the water, either on your boat or paddleboard, you like a dip in your local lake every now and then, or even if you have a swimming pool in your backyard, trust us (and the figures!) when we say that your pooch needs a life jacket in his life!

There are so many life jackets to choose from, which is why we have whittled them down to just a select few, and not only are they the very best around, we will talk you through exactly why they are the best! This article will also guide you through exactly what to look out for in a high quality life jacket, so you’ll know you’ve found the perfect fit.

At a Glance: Our Favorite Dog Life Jackets

Top Overall Pick: Outward Hound Dog Vest
High End: Ruffwear Heavy Duty Life Jacket
Budget Pick: Paws Aboard Life Vest

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Buyers Guide

Dog Vest Buyers Guide
There are several factors you should consider before buying a life jacket for your dog.

This might be your first time buying a life jacket, or maybe you have already bought one but it just isn’t up to the job, so you need to know what important features to look out for. The following features are the non-negotiables of a life jacket, so if it doesn’t have the following, then move on!

 Buoyancy: Of course, this is the most important feature to consider, because without buoyancy a life jacket would be quite pointless! There are several different life jacket designs, and the flotation units are placed on different areas of the jacket; some jackets have under belly floatation, some have them on the back, and some have them on the sides. Some jackets use them all and some employ a mixture, and some jackets also offer neck support which helps to support his head. Dependent on your dog’s ability or needs, you might want a particular design, but for those who are new to the water, an under-belly flotation design offers much more buoyancy.

Adjustability: It is important that the life jacket offers adjustable straps or points of some sort, because whilst your pooch might fall within a certain size bracket, not all dogs who find themselves in the same size bracket are the same shape. If you cannot achieve a customizable fit for him then he might not be able to move his legs freely to swim, or it may just slip off whilst in the water, so you need to find the fit right for him.

Handle: A handle is an important safety feature on a life safety jacket for two reasons. Firstly, it is important that you can grab hold of your dog in the water, just in case of an emergency. Secondly, if you are teaching your pooch to swim for the first time, or if he has never worn a jacket before, then holding the handle when you first take him into the water will give him that extra bit of stability. Not only will he be more likely to take to the water or his jacket quicker, but it will also allow you to guide him to the exit points of the water, which will increase his confidence massively.

Visibility: Most life jackets come in bright colors, such as yellow and orange, which is another important safety feature as it allows you to spot him easier against the dark color of water. Many life jackets also have some sort of reflective material on them, be that in trimming, patches or stitching, as this helps to see your pooch in the water when visibility is not that great. So, if you like an early morning or late night swim, you will be able to see him clearly!

Other Features: There are other important features to look out for too, such as security and durability, and these things are normally found in high quality life jackets that are well made. Whilst buying the most expensive life jacket doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best around, spending slightly more than the average life jacket generally means that it is much better quality than a cheap and flimsy jacket. So, if you want it to last longer than a few swims, be sure to look for a high quality life jacket, which now brings us onto our chosen ones!

Our Favorite Life Jackets

Top Life Vests For Dogs
There are several excellent options to help keep your pup afloat in water.

There are a lot of life jackets available on the market, but where exactly do you start and how do you know that you can trust them to keep your beloved pooch safe? Well, this is why we have done all the research for you, so that you can rest assured that if you pick a life jacket from our following recommendations, you know that you can trust them.

Not all dogs are created equal, and nor are all life jackets, so let’s take a closer look at our favorites and exactly why they have made it onto our top list!


Ruffwear Float Coat

RUFFWEAR - Float Coat Dog Life Jacket for...
  • CANINE LIFE VEST: A life jacket designed just for dogs; Ideal for...
  • EASY SWIMMING: Strategically placed closed-cell foam panels let...
  • ADJUSTABLE FIT: Telescoping neck closure adjusts to fit different...
  • DURABLE WEBBING: Water-compatible webbing maintains stability in...

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No doggy product list would be complete without a Ruffwear option, as their products are always of premium standard, and this life jacket, or float coat as they call it, is no different! The buoyancy units are strategically placed on both the side panels and under his belly, and the closed-cell foam panels will flip your pooch to his natural swimming position should he find himself in any difficulty. The thick neck panel is adjustable to suit all neck and chest shapes, and it has secure clips that slot into the jacket so that they remain covered throughout the swim, so you can be sure that they will never be released on accident.

The material is made from water-compatible webbing, which allows it to maintain its shape in the water, and it is also machine washable for an easy clean. It has a strong handle between his shoulder blades which means you can lift him out of the water in emergency situations, and it has a discreet leash attachment point for those who prefer to keep their pooch attached to them.

It comes in 4 bright color options, and it has reflective trim across the entire jacket which means he is visible at whatever angle you view him. It also has a webbed loop to attach the Ruffwear beacon light for extra safety, which is waterproof and can be fully submerged in water. No matter how hard we try, the only negative point that we can find about this jacket is the higher price tag, but if you have the budget for this, then it is definitely worth the extra dollars!

We love that this jacket comes with a lifetime guarantee against defects and craftsmanship, so you can rest assured that this life jacket is of the best quality!  Ruffwear also has other fantastic products, including escape proof dog harnesses and no pull dog harnesses.


Vivaglory Sports Style Life Jacket

Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life...
  • Measure Twice, Buy Once: Please refer our size chart picture to...
  • New Sports Style Design: Sports-style design gives your beloved...
  • Safe Material: The materials of Vivaglory dog life jacket have...
  • High Visibility: Designed with bright colors and Reflective...

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Vivaglory have upgraded their original life jacket with a sports style design, which means that it enjoys a closer and more ergonomic fit, which does not restrict his leg movement. The neck strap provides more space and natural movement for his neck and supports a natural swimming position. The jacket is made with a heavy duty 600D ripstop Oxford cloth, which makes it very durable, but also lightweight so that it remains comfortable.

There are plenty of adjustment clips to achieve a perfect fit, and the buckles are sturdy to keep the life jacket secure and in place. There is a strong handle situated between his shoulder blades for an easy grip, and there is a metal leash attachment point placed under the handle too.

This life jacket comes in 10 different colors that are all bright, as well as having reflective trim and reflective panels, which are great for his safety and visibility. This jacket also comes with a 90 day guarantee too, so you have a good window in which to test your product. This jacket can be a little heavy for lighter pooches, so this may be better suited to stronger dogs, however with their guarantee, if you find that it is not suitable you can return it!

We love that this life jacket has the most color options, which makes it a great option for those fashion conscious pooches who love to make a statement by the pool.


Paws Aboard Boating Life Jacket

Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket, Neoprene Dog...
  • CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE - Measuring Body Girth is critical for...
  • KEEP YOUR FURRIEST MATE SAFE - Vibrant colors and reflective...
  • QUALITY MATERIALS - This Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket is made of...
  • FASHION FORWARD - Perfect for your fashionable first mate, this...

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This life jacket is made from neoprene materials, which is often the material used for wetsuits, which makes it quick drying and it insulates his body warmth well. It is also lightweight enough that it allows free range of movement, so your pooch can keep wearing this jacket for long periods of water fun! The underbelly material is also meshed, which makes it extra breathable. There are 2 sturdy clips placed around his chest and belly, as well as an adjustable strap around his neck, which means you can find the perfect fit.

This life jacket has a grip handle situated between his shoulder blades and it has a metal D ring attached to the neck area, which are both great safety features. There are also 2 reflective strips across his ribcage and back so that he can be seen in poor visibility. It also comes in 8 different colors and patterns, most of which are bright and wild.

We love that this life jacket is well suited to smaller pups, offering the smallest chest size, and longer length needed for Dachshunds, Corgis, and other similarly shaped dogs.


Outward Hound Splash Life Jacket

Kyjen Outward Hound PupSaver Ripstop Life...
  • SPLASH WITH SAFETY: Because dogs love to swim and we love to keep...
  • PADDLE AND PLAY FRIENDLY: The Granby Splash dog life jacket is...
  • FIT AND FUNCTION: Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Whether your...
  • IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: When it comes to water, there is no such...

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This life jacket is made with neoprene material, which is not only durable, but it adds a layer of insulation for those smaller or shorter haired breeds. It has side flotation panels that help to stabilize your pooch in the water, and it also offers a neck flotation for those pooches who are less confident. It also has adjustment straps, with 2 across his underbelly, and one across his chest, which means you can find that customizable fit to make this jacket extra secure.

This life jacket has 2 grip handles, situated along his spine, which offers greater opportunity for you to take hold of him in emergency situations. It also comes in 2 colors and it has a reflective trim around the edge of the jacket.  This jacket does not have a metal D ring leash attachment, so it is not suited to those owners who prefer to keep their pooch on a leash whilst in the water.

We love that this life jacket is the best option for those pooches who are just learning to swim in calmer conditions.  Outward hound also makes some other great products, like toys for Labrador Retrievers.


EzyDog Dog Flotation Device

EzyDog Premium Doggy Flotation Device (DFD) -...
  • BEST HIGH-PERFORMANCE FLOTATION DEVICE DOG LIFE VEST JACKET:...
  • ADJUSTABLE DESIGN WITH 50% MORE FLOATION MATERIAL: Adjustable...
  • ERGONOMIC INTEGRATED GRAB HANDLE: The integrated grab handle in...
  • HIGHLY REFLECTIVE INTEGRATED TRIM: The highly reflective...

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This life jacket, or dog flotation device as the manufacturers call it, is made from heavy duty polyester which is very durable and strong. It has adjustable neoprene straps and buckles placed around his chest and neck which create a customizable fit for every pooch, as well as being very secure. It also has a contoured neck strap which fits snugly against his chest. Other flotation units can be found along the side of the jacket, which is a great position to keep him upright in the water.

It has a strong grab handle placed across his back, and it also has a leash attachment ring so that you can keep him leashed whilst in the water. This life jacket has reflective trim and stripes across the body, and in conjunction with the 3 bright color options, it is a very visible jacket for those poor visibility swims.

We love that this life jacket offers the largest size for dogs, which makes it a great option for those extra-large swimmers.  EzyDog also makes some great harnesses for running with your dog and smaller harness options for dogs like Pugs.


He & Ha Pet Life Jacket

He&Ha pet Dog Life Jacket Dog Life Vest XL...
  • HIGH BUOYANCY dog life jacket XL. Flotation is achieved via...
  • STRONG DURABLE HANDLE OPTIMALLY POSITIONED dog life vest XL. The...
  • ENHANCED MULTI-REFLECTIVE TRIM life preserver for dogs. Special...
  • 100% SAFE FOR YOUR DOGS. Advanced breathable mesh underbelly for...

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This life jacket boasts under belly flotation units which offers extra support and buoyancy, which makes it a great option for those who lack confidence in the water or tire easily. It also has a chin float too, which is another great buoyant support feature for his neck and head. There are three adjustable straps and buckles, all of which are sturdy and strong. The material is meshed throughout, which offers breathable fabric that dries quicker too. It has a metal D ring leash attachment so you can keep him close to you, your boat or your board.

This life jacket has an extra-large grip handle placed across his shoulder blades, which allows for greater control in emergency situations. It also has reflective trimming and straps across the jacket, which offers visibility from any angle. It comes in one color, but this bright orange option ensures your pooch is extra visible.

We love that this life jacket also has an inner ID tag, which means you can write your emergency contact details on just incase he swims a little bit too far.


Kurgo Surf ‘n’ Turf Life Jacket

Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Life Jacket |...
  • Doubles as Dog Jacket and Raincoat - This 2 season coat can be...
  • 2 Control Handles - Dog jacket has 2 transverse handles for quick...
  • Reflective Trim for Visibility - Bright colored life vest is...
  • Size & Fit - Size Medium fits dogs with 24 to 32 inch girth, 18...

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This life jacket is a multi-purpose jacket, and you can remove the floatation panels for a more slim-lined fit when using it as just a raincoat. It is made from ripstop material, which means that it is durable and can withstand pulling and tearing. It has 3 adjustment straps, 2 on his chest and 1 on his neck, which is great to find that tailored fit that is important for a secure life jacket. This jacket can be machine washed, which makes it easy to clean.

This life jacket has 2 transverse handles, so you have extra control when you need to take hold of him, and it also has 2 metal D rings which can be used as a leash attachment point. It comes in chili red, which is bright enough for him to be seen from afar, as well as enjoying reflective trim throughout, so he is extra visible both day and night.

It also has a concealed bottle opener, which is great for those days out when you fancy a drink by the water, but just be sure not to give your pooch any! This jacket also comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can be sure that it is made with the best material and craftsmanship, and if not, you can get your money back!

We love that this life jacket doubles up as a raincoat too, so it is great for those pooches who love a walk in the rain and a dip in the lake. Kurgo is well known for their Pitbull harnesses as well as longer harnesses for Corgis.


Frequently Asked Questions

We field quite a few questions here at Love Your Dot when it comes to picking a life jacket or vest for your pup. We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions with answers, and if you feel we’ve missed something please drop us a line in our comments section!

Q: How do I teach my dog to swim?
A: Rather than explain it here, this guide by WikiHow does a fantastic job of explaining the steps needed to get your pup in the water.

Q: Do dogs like Labradors really need a life jacket?
A: You might not think that a Labrador needs a life jacket, but the reality is, even breeds like Labradors who are excellent swimmers can find themselves in a bit of trouble.  They can inhale water or find a limb caught up, so it is always best to give any dog, of any swimming ability, that extra bit of support when in the water.

Q: How do I know if the life jacket is the right fit for my dog?
A: Firstly, you need to take his measurements as described by the product description. Many manufacturers even suggest that you take his measurements twice on different days, just in case he has had a large meal and his belly is larger than it normally is. Most manufacturers have a return policy, but it’s best to measure upfront to save yourself the inconvenience of doing so.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you are now convinced that whatever swimming ability your pooch is, he needs a life jacket in his life, if not just for your peace of mind!  With one of these life jackets, not only can you, and your pooch, enjoy the water all day long, but he will no longer feel like a fish out of water!

So, whichever float coat or doggy floatation device you chose (vest, jacket or otherwise), if you select one from our favorite list, know that you are getting one of the very best, and safest, for your beloved pooch.

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