Do Dogs Have To Wear Life Jackets? [Ultimate Guide]


dog life jacket

Many dog breeds are fond of the water and given a chance, they will instantly jump into a pool, lake, or ocean. One of the joys some of these dog breeds enjoy is a day out in the open water just to sit and feel the breeze in their face.

Is it necessary for them to wear a dog life jacket if they will sit inside the boat all through? Yes, it is important for all dogs’ to wear lifejackets as it guarantees their added safety and prevents them from any harm that may come due to cold. 

Why Is Life Jacket Important?

Most dogs enjoy swimming and sailing. However, should there be any accidents or incidents, which could see people abandoning ship and swimming for their lives, life jackets are the single-most-important item that could see a dog survive the whole ordeal.

dog life jacket


The dictionary defines a life jacket as a sleeveless buoyant or inflatable jacket that keeps a person afloat in water. When in water, the jacket prevents a person from drowning by keeping their heads above water. It will also ensure that the person does not suffer from hypothermia when a rescue team is slow on coming. As it is for humans, so it is for dogs. 

Why Should A Dog Wear A Life Jacket?

If your dog is accompanying you on a boat, then a personal floatation device (PFD) is essential for yourself and the dog. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Even professional Swimmers get tired

Though a dog may be a perfectly good swimmer, it is always important to ensure that they wear a life jacket. We all know that even professional swimmers get tired.

Moreover, they are not immune to incidents that may see them drown or have trouble staying afloat or keeping their heads above water.

The same goes for dogs. Even though most breeds are natural swimmers, it is important to ensure that the dog wears a life jacket while on a boat.

Wearing such a life jacket protects the dog and elongates its lifespan should there be an accident where the dog falls overboard and needs to swim to safety. 

2. Accidents, Incidents or Injuries could be experienced while in The water

dodogs need a life jacket on boat

Open waters are not empty. They are filled with unseen and unanticipated dangers. A dog could be happily swimming and accidentally be injured by another living or non-living thing below the waters.

In such an event, the life jacket is a sure way to ensure your dog stays afloat until help arrives. 

3. You can save your dog easier and faster (The Grip element)

Have you ever tried to hold your dog down while wet? So imagine trying to save your dog while they are soaking wet and still in the water.

It is much easier to save your dog when it is wearing a life jacket, as there are handles that allow you to grab and drag the dog to safety. 

4. Some dogs need extra help

There are dog breeds whose body types are less suited for swimming. Such dogs are unable to swim for too long and hence need assistance to stay afloat. 

5. For warmth

Another reason why dogs should wear life jackets is for warmth, as argued in the article Buzzwoof by Outward Hound. In the article, Outward Hound makes a valid argument.

Unlike humans who have skin and can easily dry off, dogs have thick fur coats that often need to be blown or sundried to dry. While in cold water, it is quite easy for a dog’s body temperature to fall.

As the temperature falls, the dog’s bodily functions can become impaired, and hypothermia sets in. 

do dogs need life jacket on boat

Swimming and Non-Swimming Dog Breeds

All dog breeds are divided into two categories when it comes to swimming, natural swimmers and non-swimmers. Before you take your dog for a boat ride, identify which category it falls under and what kind of life-jacket is suited for it. 

1. Natural swimmers

A proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian suggests that dogs that are medium to large-sized breeds that have water-resistant coats and webbing between their toes are typically strong swimmers. Such dogs have been bred for waterworks. 

dog swimming

Dogs under this category include:

  • Most retrievers, including the Labrador, Golden and Chesapeake, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling, Curly-Coated, and Flat-Coated Bay retriever 
  • Dogs that have water in their name, e.g., the Portuguese, and Spanish Water Dog, and the Irish and American Water Spaniel
  • Boykin Spaniel
  • Newfoundland
  • English and Irish Setters
  • Standard poodle
  • The Schipperke
  • Barbet
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Otterhound

2. Non-Swimmers

These are dogs that are not designed for swimming. According to Erica Puisis’s article, this category includes dogs that are top-heavy breeds, flat-faced (brachycephalic breeds), or short-legged dogs. 

Dogs under this category include:

  • Boxer breeds
  • Bulldogs
  • Dachshunds
  • Pugs
  • Boston Terrier

When in water, Brachy breeds tend to tire quickly due to their abnormality of their respiratory organ structure.  Small dogs can be taught and become very good swimmers, however, due to their small bodies; it is easy for them to get chilled or frightened quite easily. 

Best Life-Jackets for Dogs

There are various factors considered when selecting a life-jacket for your dog. 

Do Dogs Have To Wear Life Jackets? [Ultimate Guide] | Retriever Pets
  • Handle Having a handle on the life-jacket will ensure that you have a better grip of your dog while they are in and out of the water. It is also useful when you are trying to teach your dog how to swim. 
  • D-ring this allows you to attach a leash
  • Color Having a bright color and a reflective strip allows easy visibility when in the water

With these tips for a good life-jacket, the following have been identified as the best dog life jacket picks. 

The Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

The Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket is a product that is loved by many. It is designed with our qualities mind, buoyancy, visibility, handles, and floatation.

It comes in five different sizes, from Extra Small (XS), Extra Large (XL), Small (SM), Medium (MD), and Large (LG). This allows pet owners to have a chance of finding the right fit for their pup.

dog life jacket

It is fitted with dual rescue handles, that is, belly buckles and chest straps, guaranteeing your dog is well secured. It also has foam panels and a secure neck float. The life-jacket comes in bright orange and pink reflective piping which allows easy visibility. 

Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

The Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket is highly rated on amazon. It comes in five different sizes, from Extra Small to Extra Large hence ensuring all pet owners can find a fitting size for their pups. The life-jacket also comes in eight bright colors which vary from blue to yellow.

It has fastening systems around the neck and stomach areas to keep the dog secure. It also has extra padding to ensure the dog remains buoyant without restricting any motion. Additionally, it has a handle, a D-ring, adjustable straps, and quick-release buckles. 

Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket

The Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket is another product highly recommended on Amazon. It boasts having durable abrasion-resistant webbing that is water-compatible and ensures stability in wet environments.

It also has an adjustable neck fits that allow different dog sizes to be attached and securely placed with the use of clip buckles and straps.

It also boasts of excellent buoyancy with closed-cell foam panels that promote easy swimming. Additionally, it has a reflective trim that promotes low-light visibility. It comes in four different colors ensuring your dog is visible throughout. 

Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket on Amazon

Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket

The Paws Aboard Life Jacket is one that is widely recognized for its various sizes. They have sizes ranging from Extra Extra Small (XXS), fit for puppies.

The Life Jacket is also available in four different colors that ensure your dog is never out of sight. It also has a mesh underbelly which supports the dog and promotes buoyancy. Lastly, it has a D-Ring and a Grab handle. 

The Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket on Amazon

Conclusion: Do Dogs Have to Wear Life Jackets on Boats?

dog life jacket

A life-jacket is important and crucial to a dog’s survival while on a boat. Investing in a life jacket could mean guaranteeing a safe boat trip without the possibility of accidentally losing or harming your dog, through either drowning, accidents, cold resulting in hypothermia, or depletion of strength.

The four aforementioned life jacket brands are the most common and highly rated products on the market guaranteeing that your pup can have a fun day out with you. Take time and invest in your dog’s safety and ultimate survival. Ensure he always has a lifejacket when going on a boat. 

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