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5 Best Dog Life Jackets Reviewed

Dog life vest in red by henry and clemmies
Henry and Clemmies Red Life Jacket
Is A Life Jacket Really Necessary For Dogs?

There's no better way to beat the summer heat than a romp in the water to cool down. Whether its a trip to the beach, a lakeside treat or just a dip in the pool, both humans and their canine companions can enjoy strenuous exercise without over heating.  However, pet owners should be mindful of the dangers involved in swimming and boating for their four legged friends. Every year over 4000 dogs drown in swimming pools alone; even the strongest swimmer can become incapacitated in a boating or water and jet skiing accident.

Canine Life Preservers can aid dogs several ways.  The buoyancy of a good life jacket can minimize fatigue on extended play sessions, allowing you and your dog to enjoy water activities longer.  Brightly colored life vests improve the visibility of your dog for boaters, jet skiers and those being towed behind water vehicles.  In the case of extreme fatigue, strong currents or a blow to the head, a well made life vest and keep your pet afloat and strong handles can aid you in rescuing him from the water.

We took a careful look at a variety of the life jackets for dogs that are currently available on the market and compiled a list of the best life vests to make sure every day stays fun in the sun.  Be sure to scroll down to see fitting and use video.

Updated November 23, 2018

Best Value: Outward Hound Granby/Ripstop Life Jackets
Best Value Dog Life Vest by Kyjen Outward Hound
Outward Hound Life Jacket features two handles for easy rescue.

Kyjen, the maker of Outward Hound, is the leader in outdoor and travel gear for dogs. This sturdy life vest is lightweight and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.  We found it had the best price point across the board as it is carried by a large number of online and brick and mortar retailers. The Outward Hound life jackets series boasts: High visibility colors, multiple reflective strips, easy-grab handles, quick release buckles, and outstanding flotation.  The unique, multi-handle design is constructed to add strength and durability for pulling dogs out of the water.  The handles are a one piece sewn strap that wraps around the belly and back of the dog adding strength to the handle.

  • Convenient top grab handles allow easy rescue by hand or boat hook
  • Reflective accents and bright colors for high visibility
  • Fully adjustable chest and neck flaps plus quick release buckles
  • Durable and comfortable neoprene belly-band
  • Front float helps keep dog's head above water
  • Medium, Large and X-Large life jackets feature dual handles for easy lifting and stability
Positives: Affordable, Light Weight, Easy to Fit, Comfortable on the dog, Durable on land and water.

Negatives: Stitching could be stronger in seams.  Frequent lifting of medium and larger sized dogs can put excessive strain on the seams. 

These tend to run a little small, so if your dog is on the line between sizes, go with the larger size. If your dog has a thick or stocky neck, relative to the overall size of his body, go with the Paws Aboard Style life jackets, they are roomier in the neck and shoulders.

On Sale at Wags and Whiskers Gifts starting at $16.99 use Reader Discount Code for an extra 10% off - enter RP2012 at checkout.

Canine Outward Hound Orange Neoprene Life Vest
New Outward Hound Neoprene Life Jacket
Outward Hound Has gone into competition with some of the higher end life jackets, with their new Neoprene Life Vest.  This new vest is sleek and affordable.  We don't have data yet on how well they last, but we do know that they fit well and dry quickly.


  • Not as bulky on the dog, making it better for dock diving.
  • Single sturdy handle makes lifting the dog in emergency situations easier than their traditional model.
  • Well constructed and sewn; no missed stitches or poorly sewn seams have been reported.
  • Under padding helps distribute weight when lifting.
  • Very affordable with pricing ranging from $22-$35.00.


  • The "neck float" tends to move around a lot when the neck strap is extended to its longest position.
  • Flotation is focused on the upper portion of the vest and shoulders, so it will not provide as much buoyancy for heavy boned - heavy muscled dogs such as rottweilers and bull dogs. 

Best New Product: Outward Hound Standley Life Jacket 

The Outward Hound Standley life jacket is designed for more active water sports than the Granby model.  This product has nice styling that allows for more freedom of movement and a closer fit of the jacket.  The mesh across the chest and belly wrap are sturdy and the double handles allow for quick water rescue.   Made with heavy nylon over the yoke, these guys are built to last. Look for sales at specialty stores introducing this new product at rates competitive with those of the EZYDOG life jackets; it also rivals the EZYDOG in customer satisfaction surveys.


  • Leash ring for quick and easy hook up
  • Double handles for easy reach and rescue
  • Durable water resistant materials
  • Extra bright materials and reflective piping for added safety and visibility
  • Adjustable buckle and velcro-style fasteners for a snug and comfortable fit
  • Superior flotation padding for head and torso support
  • Mesh belly wrap for rapid drainage
  • Not as bulky as the Outward Hound Granby Splash model

  • Positives: Sturdy nylon in canvas weight material across yoke, Runs true to size, Comfortable

    Negatives: Slightly more pricey than their other models, but less expensive than the similarly styled Kurgo and EZYDOG flotation devices.

    Best Looking Life Jacket Runner-Up: 

    Paws Aboard Neoprene Lifeguard Jacket

    life jackets for dogs with big necks
    The Paws Aboard Neoprene Life Vest Come in a Variety of Bright Colors

    From the makers of the Paws Aboard Boat Ladder for dogs comes this delightful series of life vests. The Paws Aboard life jacket is sturdy, cute and above all affordable.  Comparably priced with the Outward Hound and Henry and Clemmies models, we love the styles of the life jackets made by Paws Aboard.  This series also includes some day-glow colors including the yellow and blue combination below.


    • Two reflective strips for maximum visibility
    • Bright designer colors for improved visibility 
    • Sturdy handle on top for quick and easy grabbing and lifting
    • Adjustable nylon straps and quick-release buckles
    • Heavy-duty yet more comfortable velcro fastening system around the belly and neck to keep securely fastened
    • Advanced breathable mesh underbelly for proper draining and drying, which provides your dog more comfort and healthier conditions than traditional pet life jackets, which can cause exhaustion and chafing
    • Available colors: Red, Blue and Yellow, Yellow, Blue Polka Dots, Pink Polka Dots

    paws aboard blue and yellow neoprene life jacket
    Paws Aboard Neoprene Life Jacket in Blue and Yellow

    Positives: Extremely visibly in water, the neoprene is not as stiff as the nylon life vest. Provides more room in the neck that the Outward Hound Model, for dogs with bulky shoulders and thick necks relative to girth size.

    Negatives: In some instances stout dogs such as pugs had difficulty staying upright.

    Best Looking Life Jacket: K-9 Float Coat

    highest quality life jacket for dogs

    The Ruffwear Float Coat comes in current red & dandelion yellow all sizes $67.00 & free shipping.

    This jacket provides all of the safety your dog needs in the water in one sleek, high fashion package.  Boasting an innovative flotation core made of several layers of closed-cell foam., the K-9 Float Coat, made by RUFFWEAR, packs a hefty price tag as well.  It runs nearly twice the price of the Outward Hound and Henry and Clemmie's models, but who cares when it comes to your canine diva.  The K-9 Float Coat comes in 2 colors, Red Currant pictured here and a vibrant Dandelion Yellow.

    • Flotation is achieved via several layers of closed-cell foam - instead of one thick one. This allows a sculpted shape that enhances comfort, won't impede movement, and supports  horizontal canine swimming.
    • The belly panel foam boosts underside flotation. For optimal safety and fit, the fully-connected, telescoping collar ensures the jacket stays in place even after long sessions of dock jumping or frolicking in the surf. 
    • Buckles are protected and straps have tail keepers: everything is streamlined so there's less to dangle or snag.

    Positives: Comfortable, great for Dock Diving, No loose straps to snag in the environment.

    Negatives: Hefty price tag for the occasional swimming outing, good value for swimming hole regulars and dock diving competitors.

    Highest In Customer Satisfaction - EZYDOG
    life jacket for dogs highest in customer statisfaction
    EZYDog Life vest come in Red, Yellow and Flame Pattern Starting at $42.00 with Free Shipping
    Buy it Now

    Considered the Cadillac of canine outdoor equipment products, EZY DOG is the leader in agility harnesses and has a loyal following among it's customer base.  Customer product reviews consistently give this life vest 5 star ratings, and its price is not too bad either at 50% more than the best value life vests. These life jackets come in 4 colors: Yellow, Red, Camo Green and Camo Pink.

    Positives: Sturdy, Well Made, Attractive Design

    Negatives: None to speak of!

    If you love being outdoors with your dog, checkout these Backpacks for hiking.

    The Best Backpacks Reviewed

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