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7 Best Dog Life Vests for Safety Out On the Water!

You’ve heard of the term “doggie paddle” – an innate swimming skill that helps keep dogs safe even in deep waters. But, while most dogs are born swimmers, some breeds like bulldogs have a body structure that is less suitable for water excursions. Even the best swimmers will find it difficult to stay afloat in rough water.

Investing in a floatation device like a canine life vest is worth every penny to keep your furry friend safe. With so many options out there, each catering to different needs, breeds, and behaviors, finding the right life vest for your dog can be a major challenge! 

That’s why we researched dozens of life vests and fully tested 11 of the best to help you find the best fit for your dog. Here’s our round-up of the top 7 life vests for your aquatic adventures, plus 4 more honorable mentions!

Our Top Picks

  Product Details    
Best-Overall-Outward-Hound-Dawson-Swim-Dog-Life-Jacket Best Overall: Outward Hound Dawson Swim Dog Life Jacket The Outward Hound hit every mark for effectiveness, adjustability, and visibility, plus heaps of convenient features – such as a floating chin bar and reflective trim for dim lighting – all at a very affordable price! Check Price
Runner-Up-RUFFWEAR-Float-Coat Runner Up: RUFFWEAR Float Coat This deluxe life vest has it all: rescue handle, water-compatible straps that don’t stretch even after hours in the water, protected straps, and even an option for a light-up beacon to spot your dog in low visibility conditions.  Check Price
Best-Value-Vivaglory-Ripstop-Life-Vest Best Value: Vivaglory Ripstop Life Vest This sturdy and extremely adjustable life vest is a great fit for dogs of all sizes, shapes, and swimming levels. It has reflective trim for added visibility, plus a leash clip for convenience. This vest is one of the most affordable in our lineup. Check Price
Best-for-Smaller-Breeds-Paws-Aboard-Life-Jacket Best For Smaller Breeds: Paws Aboard Life Jacket This vest has lots of adjustment options to fit your small dog. Plus, it comes with a sturdy grab-handle and lots of bright color options for visibility, all for a very affordable price. Check Price
Best-for-Larger-Breeds-Kurgo-Surf-n-Turf Best For Larger Breeds: Kurgo Surf N’ Turf The Kurgo Surf n’ Turf is sturdy and adaptable enough for your large breed and even features an option to convert the floatation vest into a raincoat when the weather turns foul, or you’re done with swimming for the day.  Check Price
Best-for-Durability-Queenmore-Ripstop-Dog-Safety-Vest Best For Durability: Queenmore Ripstop Dog Safety Vest This floatation vest is nearly indestructible and has adorable shark-fin or mermaid-tail options to make your dog the most popular at the next pool party.  With a reinforced grab handle, you can pull your dog to safety if a real shark or mermaid appears.  Check Price
Best-for-All-Day-Wear-Ezydog-Doggy-Floatation-Device Best For All-Day Wear: Ezydog Doggy Floatation Device Everything from the choice of material to the placement of the buckles is optimized for maximum comfort, and the extra-buoyancy of this vest means that your dog is set to swim all day long in this life jacket.  Check Price

How We Chose the Best Life Jackets 

Dog in a life vest sitting on a dock
Life vests keep your dog safe when you’re out on the water!

For this review, we searched through the top pet brands known for their quality, like Kurgo and RUFFWEAR, to find you the best options for your aquatic adventures. 

We sorted the vests based on how effectively they keep your dog afloat, how many sizing options are available, how visible the vest is in the water, how easy it is to grab the vest in an emergency, and how adjustable the vest is once your dog is wearing it. 

Our BarkVA staff also considered other factors, like affordability and all-day comfort, when making our final decisions. 

We scoured the internet for the best products and reviewed ratings and reviews from hundreds of dog owners on online shopping sites like Amazon, Walmart, REI, and Chewy to decide which life vests we wanted to try out before finally selecting 11 to test fully. Our top 7 are listed here. 

Help your dog feel safe at home, too, with a thunder jacket. Learn How to Put a Thunder Jacket On a Dog and everything you need to know about these jackets in our short guide.

Best Dog Life Vests Reviewed

1. Best Overall: Outward Hound Dawson Swim Dog Life Jacket

Product Ratings

Effectiveness5/5
Sizing5/5
Visibility5/5
Handles5/5
Adjustable Straps5/5

Leash attachment: no | Rescue Handles: 2 | Brand: Outward Hound | Material: Neoprene | Features: Reflective | Dogs: Small to Large Breeds 

What We Liked

  • Front float attachment helps keep your dog’s chin above water
  • Four high-visibility color options and reflective trim for maximum visibility
  • Neoprene padding helps keep your dog warm in cold water
  • Dual rescue handles
  • Very wide range of sizes
  • Great for novice or weak swimmers

What We Didn’t Like

  • Handle seams wear off on continuous use
  • Does not have a leash attachment

Outward Hound Dawson Life Jacket is our best topic for its all-around performance. It features durable construction and premium-quality materials that are flexible, comfortable, and visible. 

It comes in bright colors with reflective trim and features two sturdy handles on the top to grab your dog in an emergency. The Dawson comes in a wide range of sizes, and three sturdy sets of buckles let you adjust to give that ideal snuggly, secure fit. 

The vest uses neoprene padding and foam panels to keep your dog warm and buoyant without adding too much bulk or restricting the natural movement of your furry friend in the water. 

One of our favorite features is the front float designed to gently keep your dog’s chin above water! It also comes in at a very accessible price point for most pet owners.

Our only quibble with this otherwise-fantastic vest is that it does not have a dedicated leash attachment, so it’s best for well-trained dogs. Otherwise, this life vest offers the perfect combination of comfort and fun for your dog while providing security and control to you. 


2. Runner-Up: RUFFWEAR Float Coat

Product Ratings

Effectiveness5/5
Sizing4/5
Visibility5/5
Handles5/5
Adjustable Straps5/5

Leash attachment: yes | Rescue Handles: 1 | Brand: Ruffwear | Material: Foam | Features: Reflective, Lightup (option) | Dogs: Small to Large Breeds 

What We Liked

  • Bright colors and an optional attachment for an LED beacon give great visibility
  • Abrasion-resistant material
  • Water-compatible webbing resists stretching and warping
  • Additional beacon light option

What We Didn’t Like

  • Unsuitable for dogs with a wide chest 
  • Only for expert swimmers
  • Expensive

If you and your canine are water-lovers, then you need a life jacket that can withstand the test of time. It should also keep your dog comfortable after hours of wear, and the RUFFWEAR Float Coat does it all. 

Available in a wide range of sizes, the life jacket is well-suited to most dog breeds, and the simple yet functional design allows you to easily slip the vest onto your dog.

RUFFWEAR is well-known for making durable and long-lasting products, and this vest is no exception. The material is abrasion-resistant, and the strategically-placed foam panels are comfortable, effective, and support your dog’s natural swimming posture.  

The buckles are sheltered to avoid catching and slipping, and the telescopic neck makes it fit well for dogs of all sizes. To top it off, the water-compatible webbing is designed not to stretch or warp when wet, ensuring the life vest will fit your dog for hours of aquatic fun. 

We did notice, however, that the vest isn’t as adjustable across the chest as it is along the neck, so it won’t be the best choice if your dog has a broad chest for its size.

The durable rescue handle lets you help your dog to climb back into the boat. The vest is trimmed with reflective material and even comes with a loop to attach a high-visibility beacon (sold separately), so you have lots of options for visibility in low-light conditions. 

It is the most expensive option in our roundup which is the only reason it got bumped out of the top spot. If you have the cash to spare, the Float Coat is a great choice – there’s no doubt you will get your money’s worth with this fantastic vest. 


3. Best Value: Vivaglory Ripstop Life Vest

Product Ratings

Effectiveness5/5
Sizing5/5
Visibility5/5
Handles4/5
Adjustable Straps4/5

Leash attachment: yes | Rescue Handles: 1 | Brand: Vivaglory | Material: Oxford ripstop | Features: Reflective | Dogs: Small to Large Breeds 

What We Liked

  • Multiple color options
  • Easy to adjust and lots of sizing options
  • 90 days warranty
  • Affordable

What We Didn’t Like

  • Single rescue handle makes it difficult to pull heavy dog

The Vivaglory Ripstop Life Vest is an affordable vest that doesn’t sacrifice quality. It features extra padding to make sure it fits your pup comfortably but has sturdy adjustable straps with quick-release buckles around the neck and belly for convenience and security.

The vest features a sturdy grab handle (complete with padding) to haul your dog out of the water in an emergency. On land, the D-ring leash attachment lets you keep track of your furry friend with ease. 

This vest comes in ten color options – and all of them are bright and highly visible in the water. It also features reflective trims for maximum safety even in dim lighting. The brand ensures its premium quality with a 90-day guarantee against manufacturing defects. 

The jacket is suitable for swimming, boating, as well as canoeing. Additionally, the low price point and 90-day warranty make it a great choice to secure your pup’s safety on a budget. 


4. Best for Smaller Breeds: Paws Aboard Life Jacket

Product Ratings

Effectiveness5/5
Sizing5/5
Visibility4/5
Handles4/5
Adjustable Straps4/5

Leash attachment: yes | Rescue Handles: 1 | Brand: Paws Aboard | Material: Neoprene | Features: Reflective, Quick-Dry | Dogs: Small to medium breeds

What We Liked

  • Various sizes and color range
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Ideal for small dogs
  • Dries off quickly
  • HD Velcro fastening system

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not buoyant enough for large dogs
  • Unsuitable for dogs with long furs

Paws Abroad is a great option for small dogs due to its lightweight, durable construction. Its slim design avoids looking bulky, and the HD Neoprene materials make for the perfect combination of durability and comfort. 

The vest comes in six different sizes and features many sizing options, with adjustable nylon straps, quick-release buckles, and a velcro strap around the neck and belly. With all those options, you’re sure to find an incredibly comfortable and snuggly fit for your canine. 

The vest is lightweight, flexible, and buoyant enough for small and medium-sized dogs. Its low-profile design ensures non-restrictive movement and flexible use for smooth swimming, and the neoprene dries quickly and conveniently once you’re out of the water. 

The top-grab ensures maximum safety and easy pull without the chances of tearing off. The reflective trims offer enhanced visibility, while the D-ring gives you maximum control.

The only drawback to this vest is that the velcro straps on the neck and belly can get caught in the hair of longer-haired breeds. 


5. Best for Larger Breeds: Kurgo Surf n’ Turf

Product Ratings

Effectiveness4/5
Sizing5/5
Visibility5/5
Handles4/5
Adjustable Straps4/5

Leash attachment: yes | Rescue Handles: 2 | Brand: Kurgo | Material: Nylon, Neoprene | Features: Reflective, Convertible | Dogs: Medium to large breeds

What We Liked

  • Durable materials
  • Can convert to a rain jacket
  • Adjustable construction
  • Highly visible
  • Sturdy dual handles

What We Didn’t Like

  • Limited buoyancy
  • Inadequate flotation for small dogs
  • Unsuitable for deep-sea or strong current waves

The Kurgo Surf n’ Turf life jacket is the best multipurpose vest to keep your mutt safe in every wet environment, be it a beach or a boat. If you want a jacket that is comfortable enough for all-day wear and works as a raincoat too, then Kurgo is your best bet.

The jacket is made out of ripstop material and offers excellent durability and lifetime use. It features a detachable floatation layer as a life vest and rain jacket for dual-purpose use. 

It has lots of sizing options and is very adjustable, but we especially love this vest for big dogs because it features two grab-handles instead of one, making it much easier to haul big dogs out of the water. 

The bright-colored collection keeps your dog visible even at a long distance, while reflective trims are great for nighttime visibility. It comes with a D-ring leash attachment for use in and out of water. 

Moreover, every Kurgo product is backed with a lifetime warranty, ensuring the premium quality of the materials. It allows hassle-free claims on manufacturing defects when the item is purchased from authorized dealers.


6. Best for Durability: Queenmore Ripstop Dog Safety Vest

Product Ratings

Effectiveness5/5
Sizing5/5
Visibility5/5
Handles4/5
Adjustable Straps4/5

Leash attachment: yes | Rescue Handles: 1 | Brand: Queenmore | Material: Nylon and foam | Features:  | Dogs: Small to Large Breeds 

What We Liked

  • Funky design
  • Premium quality
  • Robust construction
  • Magic sticker fastening
  • Maximum flotation
  • Waterproof

What We Didn’t Like

  • Unsuitable for dogs with a big chest size

Don’t be fooled by the fun shark-fin and mermaid-tail options because this life vest is built to last. Made with premium oxford fabric, polyfoam filling, and mesh lining, it is our lineup’s most robust life vest. 

The sturdy handle offers a secure grip when pulling the dog out of rough water, making the rescue process quick and safe.

The jacket features a heavy-duty D-ring to connect the leash for ample control on dry land. If you love spending time in the water but need maximum safety for your pup, Queenmore is packed with all the right features.

The decorative options add a fun touch to the overall design, but also make it easy to spot your pup. The materials are water-resistant and quick-drying for convenience, and the adjustable straps with quick-release buckles and magic stickers provide secure fastening and a snug fit. 

The neck, belly, and back flotation pads are filled with polyfoam, which provides excellent flotation – making it buoyant enough for a wide range of dog breeds. 


7. Best for All-Day Wear: Ezydog Doggy Floatation Device

Product Ratings

Effectiveness5/5
Sizing4/5
Visibility5/5
Handles4/5
Adjustable Straps4/5

Leash attachment: yes | Rescue Handles: 1 | Brand: EzyDog | Material: Nylon and Neoprene | Features: Reflective | Dogs: Small to Large Breeds 

What We Liked

  • Bright colors and ultra-reflective trim offer great visibility
  • The most buoyant life vest we tested
  • Comfortable enough to wear all day long 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Neck design places slightly too much pressure on the throat for some dogs
  • Only one rescue handle

If you have an active dog that spends a lot of time in the water, he needs a high-performance life jacket. While it’s not cheap, EzyDog delivers: this is one of the warmest, most secure, and most buoyant dog life jackets you’ll find. You get what you pay for!

Between the extra-buoyant filling and the tough neoprene straps, this is the most buoyant vest in our lineup. Whether your dog is a weak swimmer, or you just want them to be able to play for hours without getting tired, this keeps your dog afloat and comfy all day long. 

This vest doesn’t come with the widest range of color choices, but you can’t go wrong with functionality here. The rescue handle is sturdy, and the vest comes in five sizes with a wide range of adjustment options in the straps. 

We do feel it is best suited for middle-to-large breeds, and if you have a small dog, you may not have as much nuance in sizing as you need.

Keep in mind that if your dog has a thick neck relative to its body, the neck design may not adjust outward enough to be comfortable. Be sure to measure your dog and check against the manufacturer’s sizing chart, particularly if your dog is a stockier breed.


Comparison Chart

ProductsBest OverallRunner-UpBest ValueBest for Smaller BreedsBest for Larger BreedsBest DurabilityBest for All-Day Wear
Overall Rating5/54.8/54.6/54.4/54.4/54.6/54.4/5
Effectiveness5/55/55/55/54/55/55/5
Sizing5/54/55/55/55/55/54/5
Visibility5/55/55/54/55/55/55/5
Handles5/55/54/54/54/54/54/5
Adjustable Straps5/55/54/54/54/54/54/5

The Winner

Our clear favorite was the Outward Hound Dawson Life Jacket. It offers incredible versatility and safety at a great price point, is adjustable enough for dogs of all sizes, is especially suited to cold water, and is durable enough to last for years. It’s a fantastic option for any dog owner. 

How to Choose the Best Life Vest

Dog wearing an orange life vest
The right life vest will fit your dog snuggly while keeping them comfortable.

Consider Your Dog’s Needs

Your dog’s swimming ability is just one factor to consider. What kind of waters do you take your dog into? How long are your outings? Are other dogs around? 

Read More: Best Dog Pools for Hot Summer Days. We tested the top doggie pools to keep your pup cool during the summer!

Dog Breed

You need to also consider your dog’s breed when choosing a coat. Yes, some dogs are water dogs, and some get scared at the sight of a puddle, but there are many differences even among dogs that love the water. 

If your dog has low body fat and a thin coat, you’ll want a life jacket that offers additional warmth. If your dog is especially large, it’s important to buy a life jacket with two sturdy grab handles to help him out of the water.

Material

Take comfort, reflectiveness (or lack thereof), breathability, durability, and cleanability into consideration when choosing a life vest. Also, check that the straps are sturdy enough to hold up if you have to pull your dog out of the water in an emergency. 

Sizing Your Dog

Each product you look at will have a sizing guide and/or chart for you to reference when choosing a size for your dog. Always take your dog’s measurements before buying a vest to ensure the best fit.

Check out this vet-approved guide for more information: How to Pick the Right Life Jacket for Your Dog

Honorable Mentions

Here’s a brief look at the 4 options that didn’t make our list.

1. Yoyoung Camo Life Vest for Dogs – Considered for Best Value

This affordable vest comes with many sizing options and a very detailed manufacturer’s fitting guide. The velcro straps are easy to adjust, the top handle is sturdy, and the vest includes a leash connection – it has everything you need to keep your dog safe. 

However, the Velcro can snag fur and get waterlogged, so we found the Vivaglory Ripstop Life Vest to be more durable, adjustable, and comfortable for the price. 

2. HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket – Considered for Smaller Breeds

This fun vest comes with many color options and a heavy-duty leash connection. The belly even has a quick-release button to adjust the fit quickly. However, the fit generally wasn’t adjustable enough for the smallest breeds. 

Overall, we found that the Paws Aboard Life Jacket was more adjustable and durable so it won the spot in our top picks.

3.Outward Hound Granby Dog Jacket – Considered for Larger Breeds

This affordable jacket is the second Outward Hound we considered. Its high level of buoyancy and the dual grab handles make it perfect for managing larger dogs, regardless of their swimming skill. 

However, the strap setup is very cumbersome to adjust and we prefer the Kurgo Surf n’ Turf for its more user-friendly fit. 

4. Landshark Pet Life Jacket – Considered for All-Day Wear

This neoprene life vest is comfy and warm enough for all-day wear, and it features a very convenient zip-top closure for easy on-and-off action. It even features an endearing shark-fin attachment and size adjustments that cater to all dog breeds. 

However, the higher buoyancy of the Ezydog Doggy Floatation Device allows your dog to swim for longer and in more turbulent waters, so it’s a better choice for extended use in and out of the water. 

5/5 - (4 votes)

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